And it makes a world of sense. When you consider the heavy RHNA demands that will be made upon cities such as ours once SB 375 starts rolling, the timing couldn't be better. And while there is no immediate threat of Eminent Domain being used right now, consider that SCAG is already down on paper as saying that we need to start planning for the inclusion of 140 new households in our already built-out city. And the only way anyone will be able to make room for that kind of redevelopment is through the use of a bulldozer.
The argument against putting this to a vote is that nobody has any plans to use Eminent Domain right now, so why go to all that bother? Two very good reasons come to mind:
1) With the rule book having been completely rewritten by Sacramento with the passage of SB 375, how do we know what the future holds? With this bill Sacramento has now seized much of the planning power that used to reside within cities such as ours. And since central state planning is almost always out of touch with the needs of local governance, how can anyone be certain we won't get hit with an immense RHNA number in a couple of years? Any large number would take a lot of currently unavailable land to accommodate, and the only way anyone could free up that kind of space would be to either buy it or, should owners be reluctant to sell, seize it. SB 375 is a massive statewide undertaking, and it will be difficult reaching the goals set for it by Sacramento without the help of Eminent Domain.
2) A document has now been found on the internet showing that the Sierra Madre Community Redevelopment Agency had indeed applied for Eminent Domain approval in 2004 as part of the run up to the Downtown Specific Plan. Here is how it reads:
ONGOING ACTIVE PROJECTS FOR WHICH AQMD HAS OR WILL CONDUCT A CEQA REVIEW:
TITLE/DIST. LOG: LAC040406-01CD AMENDMENT NO. 4 TO THE REDEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR THE SIERRA MADRE BOULEVARD REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: THE PROPOSED PROJECT WOULD PROVIDE THE SIERRA MADRE COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY THE AUTHORITY TO USE THE POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN ON PROPERTIES WITHIN THE 140-ACRE SIERRA MADRE BOULEVARD REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT, AS AMENDED, THAT ARE DESIGNATED IN THE GENERAL PLAN OR THE ZONING ORDINANCE FOR COMMERCIAL OR INDUSTRIAL USES.
Face it, if old regime folks within our City government in 2004 wanted to use Eminent Domain for the DSP, those of a similar bent today could very well do the same for any SB 375 RHNA conflicts. Ask yourself this: would you trust a Mayor Joe Mosca to protect the property rights of owners here who refuse to sell when Sacramento comes calling for what it thinks is its due? Knowing where Joe's real loyalties lie, I certainly would not.
Chris Norby Wins!
A hero in the fight against Eminent Domain abuse won an election last night, one that will help send him to the California State Assembly once a runoff is held in January. And Chris Norby did it in the face of a heavily funded smear campaign that rivaled in intensity the garbage the "No on V" people threw at us a couple of years back. Here's an early breakdown from the Orange County Register:
Norby holds commanding lead in Assembly race - Republican Chris Norby was poised to advance to a runoff after Tuesday's special election to fill the Assembly seat vacated on Sept. 9 by Mike Duvall, who resigned after being caught bragging about extramarital sex ... Early returns and a large mail ballot tally showed Norby, a county supervisor, more than 15 percentage points ahead of fellow Republican Linda Ackerman, who outspent him in a vicious campaign battle but could not neutralize the better name recognition he had from the outset of the race.
Chris Norby is the founder of Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform (MORR), and the author of Redevelopment: The Unknown Government.
Considering that two "independent committees" spent over $150,000 to defeat Norby, you have got to believe there are a lot of people in both the redevelopment field and Sacramento who are none too pleased about the results of this one.