Protesters Gather to Oppose Expansion: Santa Clarita CA Signal, 6/26/07

By Kristopher Daams

The [Santa Clarita CA] City Council is scheduled tonight to take another look at - and adopt - the process it would follow to use eminent domain, the acquisition of private property for public use.

State law is mandating cities produce an ordinance describing their eminent domain program and approve it by July 1. No public hearing is required for the ordinance and the council hasn't scheduled one for it. The ordinance had its first reading by the council on June 12.

The program under consideration could have the city come into possession of a property during litigation between a property owner and the city. Litigation does not have to conclude before a property is acquired.

The program would mandate an appraisal process with an appraiser hired by the city. If a property owner wishes, an independent appraiser could also undertake another appraisal process and the city would have to pay $5,000 of the entire cost.

A 30-day negotiating period is included and if eminent domain is the city's course of action, a public hearing is required as well as a two-thirds majority vote by the council.

Assistant city engineer Chris Price, one of the city officials overseeing the redevelopment process for downtown Newhall, described the item as "a restating of existing state law in a local ordinance.

"If we didn't do this, nothing would change," he added.

The city's eminent domain policy as laid out in the ordinance would essentially be similar to its existing one that is based on state law, Price said.

Santa Clarita CA Signal: http://www.the-signal.com