Eminent domain extension facing strong opposition: San Diego CA Union-Tribune, 6/20/07

By Tanya Sierra

Dozens of community members last night spoke against National City's proposed extension of its eminent domain authority, but officials said the tool is crucial to their redevelopment plans.

Several speakers before the City Council said the extension, which tightens up language to exclude all residential property, is too broad and lasts too long.
The council's public hearing was required before it could renew the city's condemnation power. The council will vote on the eminent domain extension next month.

In response to three hours of complaints last night, during which not one person spoke in favor of the renewal, Councilman Luis Natividad suggested the power be reduced from 12 years to six.

It was the only sign Natividad showed that he was moved by comments that otherwise irritated him. Most speakers, who were rallied by members of the city's popular youth boxing program, blasted officials as being against youth and characterized the council as wanting to force the program out of the city.

Officials have said repeatedly they want the program to stay and have provided more than $200,000 in funding over the years.

The Community Youth Athletic Center's building is targeted for replacement by a 24-story condominium tower.

“I don't scare very easy,” Natividad said. “So if anyone thought bringing 1,000 people was going to scare me, they're wrong. I'm not going to sit here and get insulted by anyone.”

The city can use eminent domain to obtain blighted commercial, industrial or vacant and abandoned properties. It negotiates to buy at fair-market value. If an owner refuses to sell, the city can get a court order forcing a sale. The city's eminent domain authority expires in August.

San Diego CA Union-Tribune: http://www.signonsandiego.com