By A.J. Hazarabedian
Claremont’s city council has extended the city’s eminent domain authority to include nonresidential property.
According to the article, “Claremont renews its eminent domain power,” from the Daily Bulletin, the city had to amend their redevelopment plan in order to extend their eminent domain authority for 12 more years.
In the article, Councilman Sam Pedroza explains, “This isn’t extending (the ordinance) into any new areas, it’s only extending the time. And one question keeps coming up…but there are no residential units that are within our eminent domain powers.”
Claremont’s city council voted to approve this action on Tuesday, November 24, 2009.
Commentary from A.J. Hazarabedian
Although the power of eminent domain in a Redevelopment Plan is limited by law to 12 years unless renewed, Redevelopment Plans themselves can last decades. This is one of the recurring potential problems with redevelopment. An area can be deemed “blighted” in a Redevelopment Plan, and then not acquired by eminent domain until decades later. Within that time, sometimes, the area – or specific properties within it – have either rehabilitated through private development, or have worsened due to the cloud of potential eminent domain hanging over the properties in the area. It is this author’s belief that while eminent domain may be appropriate in limited circumstances to cure true “blight,” sometimes the power is exercised where not truly necessary to cure “blight,” as in the example of properties declared blighted decades earlier which have since been rehabilitated on their own. This is not an indictment of Claremont; this author is unaware of the conditions of the redevelopment area at issue. Rather, it is a general comment as to the workings of redevelopment in general.