By A.J. Hazarabedian

An eminent domain case filed in September 2007 was finally resolved in Cathedral City this month.  As reported in the Desert Sun article, Cathedral City council votes to pay $535,000 in eminent domain land deal,” the city wants the land for a 23-acre project which would include a 39-unit commercial center.

The article states, “the City Council unanimously voted in closed session on Jan. 13 to pay a landowner $535,000 from the  redevelopment fund for two parcels on Grove and Dawes streets east of the Civic Center.”  Eminent domain proceedings began September 26, 2007 and the lawsuit was filed in May 2008 against the landowner.  According to the article, negotiations had been ongoing for months between the city and the landowner.

However, Cathedral City has some concerns about the timing of the project, as redevelopment funds to the state were cut to help balance the state budget.  Cathedral City City Manager Don Bradley explained, “This ($535,000) was money that was set aside and was budgeted, and so it’s not directly affected by the state’s (action).  However, the state’s action of taking additional money is where we run into the problem of going forward.”

Councilman Greg Pettis mentioned it was too late to delay court proceedings once everything had been put into place.  Also, property values were noted, as real estate values could potentially increase in the future,  thereby costing the city even more money.

The land being acquired has about 10 tenants in apartments, some of which have lived there for 35 years.  A relocation company has been hired by the city to provide relocation assistance to the tenants as required by state law.

The two other lawsuits have mandatory settlement conferences scheduled for April 5, 2010.