City paves way for eminent domain: Victorville CA Daily Press, 6/2/07

By Tatiana Prophet

While [Victorville] officials say they have no immediate plans to use eminent domain, the City Council is set to pave the way for the day they will need to use it in Old Town and other parts of the city.

“We have no plans to use eminent domain whatsoever at this point,” said Councilman Bob Hunter. “That doesn’t mean that at some point we won’t have to use it, but as always, we negotiate with individuals before we consider eminent domain.”

A state law passed in 2005 puts a time limit of 12 years on eminent domain powers in redevelopment areas.

Before extending the time limit, cities must demonstrate that significant blight still exists in the areas, and that the blight cannot be eliminated without the use of eminent domain.

The time limit expired in the 1980s and 1990s on the areas in question.

According to a City Council agenda item, the city is extending the powers on the Bear Valley Road Redevelopment Project Area, an area bounded by Bear Valley Road on the south and Ottawa Street on the north, next to Foxborough Industrial Park.

The powers would also be available at the Hook Boulevard Redevelopment Area, which runs around the area at Civic and Roy Rogers drives.

Finally, if the measure passes, eminent domain powers would be available for the Old Town/Midtown Redevelopment area.

The city has already approved its Old Town Strategic Plan and is courting private developers to help turn the area into a pedestrian-friendly environment.

Part of the Old Town strategy would involve creating “catalytic” sites along Seventh Street, permeating the four-block grid from A to D streets.

According to the strategic plan, housing is a critical component of the area’s rebirth.

With plans for artist’s lofts priced at about $240,000 per unit, the city’s development partners will likely need to acquire land in the area.

But city officials have come out adamantly against using eminent domain for private use — only for government use such as roads and required infrastructure.

The last time the city used eminent domain was in March, when it took an 1,800-square-foot corner from a half-acre lot at Nisqualli Road and Seventh Avenue to be able to install a drain, sidewalk and street signal for the street’s widening.

Victorville CA Daily Press: http://www.vvdailypress.com