Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Will Eminent Domain Be On The Ballot In Sierra Madre Next April?

Lots of talk around town about this one. The idea of eliminating Eminent Domain once and for all as a redevelopment tool in Sierra Madre by putting it to a public vote has apparently acquired quite the buzz. And according to the rumors I've been hearing it could even be agendized for City Council consideration, with a vote on whether or not to put the question on next April's ballot being held before the end of this year a good possibility.

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:


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.

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.


  1. the damage done by mosca, buchannan, lambdin, webb-martin and friends continues.

    as i argued in the run up to measure v, the initiative was bad law. it was, however, made necessary by the failure of this group to kill the DSP.

    the Moscaite's continued refusal to give up their dream of endlessly flipping condos from one end of SMB to the other now leads to this. an initiative to kill ED (eminent domain, not erectile disfunction). ED, used responsibly, is a valuable tool for responsibly redeveloping a town. the problem is no one trusts this bunch to do anything responsibly.

    if mosca and friends are on the ballot, i will vote for this measure as a defense against their continuing onslaught on our way of life.

  2. Interested ActivitistNovember 18, 2009 at 7:13 AM

    We must inform people about eminent domain NOW and gather together people to organize and inform our citizens of the DANGER to SIERRA MADRE.....there IS nothing responsible about politicians forcing people to move out of their homes and business' with a fake smile, to create overdevelopment! Before the election fever, let us begin organizing a committee now....many people do not know

  3. I agree with 6:52. We need to protect ourselves. The state
    government sees towns like us as nothing more than
    development fodder, and an opportunity to pay off lobbyists.
    We have what is probably the worst state government in the
    country, and the crap just keeps piling up.

  4. Anybody who wants to learn about Eminent Domain should download Chris Norby's book on redevelopment. It is linked in this article. Pretty much the best primer on what the fight is all about.

  5. Canyon house on market as a probate sale WAS listed in the $189,000 range is now somewhere around $360,000. What changed? Realtors buy up these in a bundle and up goes the price. Good that there is a building moratorium in place as this historic cabin in need of tender loving restoration would be torn down by the "build, flip and flee (fleece)" greed-mongers among us.

  6. A little recovery in the real estate market is apparently enough to get Frankenstein stirring again...

  7. I'm so pleased to hear about Chris Norby's win.
    We need more people like him in Sacramento.
    I really hope the city council puts eminent domain on the ballot. We need to send a message...dare the dirts to fight us again with big out of town money.
    Considering the coverage the New London, Conn. eminent domain case had on major cable news stations, same thing will happen here in Sierra Madre. This will hit the news, dirts. So go after us with big development money at your own risk.
    People are sick and tired, but ready to fight to preserve their liberty.

  8. Great news about Mr. Norby.

    Thank god for Sir Eric

  9. Great quote from Norby's book:

    "This unknown government currently consumes 10% of all property taxes statewide. It has a total indebtedness of over $51 billion. It is supported by a powerful Sacramento lobby, backed by an army of lawyers, consultants, bond brokers and land developers. Unlike new counties, cities and school districts, it can be created without the vote of the citizens affected. Unlike other governments, it can incur bonded indebtedness without voter approval. Unlike other governments, it may use the power of eminent domain to benefit private interests. This unknown government provides no public services. It does not educate our children, maintian our streets, protect us from crime, nor stock our libraries. It claims to eleminate blight and promote economic development, yet there is no evidence it has done so in the half century since it was created. Indeed, it has become a rapidly growing drain on California's public resources, amassing enormous power with little public awareness or oversight."

  10. Overheard at a scholarship award, in El Monte about a month and a half before the arrest of John Leung of the Titan Fiasco..

    "Now if we can get John what he wants," E. Clarke Moseley El Monte City Attorney to Emily Ishigaki, Councilperson...Yes we want to do the best for El Monte, she replied

  11. Perfect example, Witness, of the double speak that is such a curse in politics.

  12. Even without the power of eminent domain, a City Council comprised of DIRTS or their supporters (e.g., John Buchanan and Joe Mosca) poses the biggest threat to the continuing survival of Sierra Madre as a small town.
    Are Don and Kurt running for re-election in April 2010?

    If not, we need to ensure that qualified preservationist candidates run and succeed them on the Council!

  13. 11:14. I'm with you. Joe, John and whomever else the DIRTS decide to run in 2010 are a greater threat to small town SM than eminent domain.

  14. Eminent domain and all the rest of the strange shenanigans are possible consequences of a dirt run city council. You KNOW that won't happen with Kurt, Don and MaryAnn in charge.

  15. The thing is that f we can outlaw eminent domain, we have neutralized a weapon in the arsenal of the develrealconstruction greed mongers.
    That would be helpful.

  16. Speak up and ask for this at the the next council meeting during public comment. Request for it to be on the next agenda. Write Maryann, Don, and Kut. They will listen. Public comment is the place you will be heard not only by the readers of the Tattler, but all the Channel 3 viewers. Everyone in the city must hear this request. There is still time for it to be on the next ballot. Stop typing and start yapping.

  17. i'm trying to figure out where and why Sierra Madre would need to use eminent domain? the city can't even manage itself at this size, why would it need to seize private property for a developer

    what exactly is john and joe's rationalization for not supporting eminent domain in Sierra Madre? those two, along with the realtors won't stop until SM is a cavern of ratty condos

    where in the world does john buchanan or joe mosca or the rest of that crowd believe that they are more enlightened or smarter than the rest of us, i've never heard two guys speak so much and say so little...oh yeah, they are lawyers

    next election, i will only vote for a person who will follow the will of the people, not a pandering politics as usual backstabber like joe and john

  18. The problem is that with SB 375 the state is as much involved with local planning issues as our own city. They're the ones driving development now. This isn't just a Sierra Madre vs. Bob the Builder and Rhoda the Realtor kind of issue any more. Those simpler times are apparently over.

  19. I'm sure people will speak up about wanting protection against eminent domain, and our candidates should offer a "contract with the people of Sierra Madre" signed, promising to protect Sierra Madre from eminent domain any way they have to.
    We can't trust another Joe Mosca type, that told us he would protect us against the DSP, betrayed us and cost us, time and money, not to mention the grief of being betrayed.
    We need to let Sacramento know we are going to fight eminent domain, which is a stone cold certainty to come about sooner than later due to the horrible SB375 and AB32. It has to happen to make their evil scheme work.
    We have good people to run, win and keep their promise. How many people in other cities can say that?
    We can do this Sierra Madre!

  20. Fiat government to fiasco government!

  21. You know what gets to me? Sacramento just set another record for debt today, and they have the nerve to tell us how to run our city?

    Tar and feather 'em!

  22. We need a way to monitor who and how our legislaters vote. Then we can know who to complain to, and perhaps get them voted out of office. Keep them accountable !
    Right now, how do we know who is working for the people and who is working for the development interests.
    We never get news about issues from Sacramento until they hit us with some outlandish mandates they pass.

  23. I agree, 3:43, but we do know who is working for the people and who is working for development.

    MacGillivray, Zimmerman and Watts work for the residents of Sierra Madre.

    Joe Mosca, John Buchanan and the Bart Doyle gang of ex-mayors work for development.

    That is very clear. So, Sierra Madre, there is NO EXCUSE to vote for any DIRT in any ELECTION.

    They are not serving on our council for the people. They have proven this over the past 10-12 years.

  24. Would anyone post the names of the crooks, I mean politicians who voted in favor of AB32 and SB375?
    The voters need to send these people back to real jobs.
    Sir Eric? How about a list, for all the out of city folks who read the Tattler?
    You out of town readers: Please spread the word around if any of these bums shows up on your ballot.

  25. Ever look at Henry Amos's Facebook page? Has a grinning skull wearing a German battle helmet as his picture. Brrr.

  26. Old Kentucky I was wondering if you ever eat in town or ever do your business there? I mean the restaurants, clothes stores, liquor stores, banks and so on?

  27. Uh oh. I sense a new Sierra Madre patriotism test. "Where do you shop?" In order to get back into the community, will citizens now be forced to produce a credit card bill at the border?

  28. 4:48: You neglected to mention that it's a copy of a picture or poster used by many fans of the Oakland Raiders football team. It clearly shows the words "Raider Nation for Life". It also depicts the Oakland Raiders insignia. There is no German helmet in the picture. Quit trying to stir up crap!

  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  30. This eminent domain issue has constitutional implications, as we all know. It has tremendous opportunities for abuse, but in our case, the greatest potential for abuse would be in the redevelopment area. But if the City were to take One Carter as a park, that wouldn't be so bad would it? I mean, they'd have to pay for it and that's always the rub--what is the value, what should be the price. But as a basis for a "taking" to meet some politicians view of an upgrade, I think that would be an abuse.

    Probably my favourite reason to put an eminent domain initiative on the ballot would be the opportunity to highlight the issue and use it as a collateral hammer on Joe-Boy. Think of the political opportunities that provides . . . Hmmmm, I'm liking the sound of that . . .

  31. 5:21,

    Yes, I do most of my business in town.

  32. 4:03,

    I can tell you that Don Barton Doyle is an immigrant investor regional manager, US customs and immigration program overseen by the department of homeland security. He is cheif executive officer and Barry Sedlik is cheif operation officer. there is a web site USCIS-Immigrant Investor Regional Manager and it has a long list of people that seemed to as interested in SB 375 as its authors and stakeholders are. I asked a council person the other day if they knew that and the individual recoiled with shock, since apparently that was withheld in the Titan presentation and said no I thought he was a little real estate man.

  33. speaking Of a form of eminent domain I have just been informed that a staff meeting concerning a
    motorhome parked on brookside which was turned in
    by a builder and his property owner who does not live in town will be forced to remove it even tho
    the law they site does not aply. The city is siding
    with a spec house builder over a long time resident. If
    this is allowed to stand 100's of other people around town will have the same fate

  34. 904: I'd like to talk with you about this if you don't mind. Email me your number at the site email address


  35. Comment from a professional city planner, formerly of Pasadena and now a consultant to cities, who responded to my note to her with respect to Chris Norby's site and book:

    "A Redevelopment Project Area is enabled locally and has to conform to the local General Plan. That is why there has been an effort over the past 10 years to water down the General Plan and Specific Plans (all words, no drawing, etc.) so that most anything can get approved - just interpret the words and blow it on through."

    This discussion is making the rounds of very interested and influential folks in participation with their Pasadena General Plan...

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