Eminent domain discussed in today's City Council meeting: Orange County CA Register, 7/2/07

Eminent domain discussed in today's City Council meeting
City Council will consider adopting a new ordinance to comply with new state law

By Cincy Carcamo

"Eminent domain" is always a hot topic. That's why those words may raise some eyebrows when coupled with the introduction of a new ordinance set to be considered at today's [Huntington Beach] City Council meeting.

The agenda item reads:
"Approve for Introduction Ordinance No. 3771 Authorizing Execution and Recordation of the Revised Plan Statement Pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 33373, Which Affirms the Redevelopment Agency's Restrictions on the Use of Eminent Domain in the Huntington Beach Redevelopment Project Area…"

Say what?

At first glance, some may think the city plans to change its rules, making it easier to forcibly take some prime city property. I can already hear the sharpening of knives.

Not so fast. Rip through the government jargon.

The new ordinance really wouldn't change anything at all, said Stanley Smalewitz, director of Economic Development. He said the adoption of the new rule would be just a technicality to comply with relatively new state laws.

City officials have ordered local governments to review their eminent domain policy to comply with the new legislation, Smalewitz said.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling a couple of years ago essentially made it easier for municipalities to enforce their power to seize private property. The 2005 Kelo v. The City of New London ruling allows government to take property for "economic development" purposes, expanding the reasons for use of such a power.

In reaction, California legislators set rules that basically negate the ruling to protect property owners.

With or without the new state protections, there are those lucky enough to live in an area that has been exempted from city takeover for a couple of decades now.
  • Within the Yorktown-Lake Area and Talbert-Beach Area.
  • Within the Main-Pier Area.
  • Within the Oakview Area.

It's unclear why. Most of these designations happened in the 1980s when some feared the gentrification of the areas.

Orange County CA Register: http://www.ocregister.com