May 19, 2006

Editorial:

City of Chula Vista: Prop. C – Eminent Domain

Eminent Domain has become the boogeyman for private property owners and business owners ever since the Supreme Court gave its approval for Eminent Domain to be used by a City Council to choose one private business over another. The fear of Eminent Domain has been further exasperated by the threat of use in the Espanada Project in Chula Vista, as well as its proposed use by our neighboring cities of National City and San Diego. It makes perfect sense that the citizens of Chula Vista want to define and outline its use and eliminate the abuses of Eminent Domain.

The problem with Prop. C is that it goes too far. It states: There shall be no taking of private property for private redevelopment unless there is a public vote and that the City cannot participate in anyway, shape, or form, in particular the use of City funds, when it comes to issue of Eminent Domain. This proposition is specifically drawn up for the Westside of Chula Vista where redevelopment is in its infancy. For the City of Chula Vista to continue to grow and increase its tax revenue stream it will need to change the makeup of the City Core, in particular the Broadway Corridor.

The Broadway Corridor is a gauntlet of rundown businesses, fringe businesses with high turnover ratio, bars, second hand stores and a mixed bag of auto related businesses. The area is an eyesore in many spots, conducive for crime, and a deterrent for families. As one of the main corridors into the city of Chula Vista it is uninviting and is indicative of a slum. Prop. C would make it next to impossible to change this area.

In terms of protecting private property – homes - Prop. C makes sense. Unfortunately Prop. C ties itself to a private business proviso which creates a problem for this proposition. And, while the proponents of this Proposition state that the City’s use of Eminent Domain is still allowed for the public good, it does not define what public good is. Does the expansion of Scripps Hospital which is a business, come under the banner of public good or is a private for profit business?

Eminent Domain has been a tool for cities to use as a matter of last resort. In the City of Chula Vista, with the exception of the Españada project, it has not been an issue of abuse by city officials. Prop. C is an overreaction to a perceived threat that at this time has not developed. State and Federal lawmakers are at this time working on laws that promise to fix the mess created by the Supreme Court. Let us wait to see how these laws come out before we decide to tie the hands of the City from making the Westside of Chula Vista a wonderful place to live and work in. What we need to do is elect officials who will best represent the citizens and their desire for comprehensive and sensitive redevelopment plan for the City.

Vote No on Proposition C

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