Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Eminent Domain and Privatization, California style

Here's another criticism of the use of eminent domain for private purposes. But this one takes place in...get your stutters ready...m-m-m-my Pomona.

Well, not my Pomona, but John Clifford's Pomona.

[T]he city has prepared environmental documents, before there are any entitlements, is that this project is planning to use eminent domain to force the sale of the property. The properties that we're talking about are a mini-car wash, 7-11 store, Coates Cyclery, and Giovanni's Men's Suits. All of these appear to be thriving businesses and would not be what I would consider "blight" (one of the requirements for using eminent domain for redevelopment), however there are other properties within the site, the vacant motorhome sales site especially, which could be considered blighted and the argument will be made that the project requires the other properties to be viable and eliminate the blighted area.

While the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Kelo v. City of New London , No. 04-108 on June 24, 2005 that this is legal, as the increase in property taxes is a benefit to the community, I have some serious problems with this particular project.

Goddess of Pomona previously discussed one of the affected businesses:

Anyone else have an opinion on Mayor Torres' plan to buy up the property that currently houses Coates Bicycles at Towne and Foothill in order to build a large retail center?...

I've had great experiences with Coates. It's another labor of love business that should be cherished, not given it's walking papers.

If this development has to happen at that corner, why not figure Coates and their retro sign into the design of the new project?

M-M-M-My Pomona provides additional detail on the plight of Coates Bicycles:

[Coates Bicycles] have been doing business in Pomona since 1934 and at its current location since the mid '50s. They are basically being forced out of their business. They have been offered space in the new center (subject to an agreement with the new owners, Lewis Homes) but it would be at a price approximately 3x what they pay now. Here's a business that has been paying Pomona taxes for over 70 years, and now the city wants to potentially put them out of business.

So why do these things happen? Because city planners all have a vision of converting their city - even if it's Baker - into Rodeo Drive, or a similar upscale area in which people in limos will drive by and toss money in the air.

Too bad if existing business have to be mowed down in order to realize this vision.

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