By Anna Bakalis

On the heels of a report suggesting one-third of the properties in Moorpark’s project area are blighted, the City Council is set to vote Wednesday night on reinstating eminent domain authority.

The council is expected to consider and adopt eminent domain authority over the city’s project area — about 1,200 acres, including downtown High Street, Walnut Canyon Road and south to the Arroyo Simi. Extending as far east as Condor Drive and west to Gabbert Road, city officials are hoping to rehabilitate the area for more cohesive development and economic growth.

A Redevelopment Agency staff report concludes there is a significant amount of blight in the area and it cannot be eliminated without the use of eminent domain.

This week the council will consider reinstating the agency’s lapsed eminent domain authority, also known as Amendment No. 2, as set by Moorpark voters in 1989. If it is adopted, the Redevelopment Agency will be able to acquire commercial and industrial properties only. Moorpark will not have authority to acquire residentially zoned property and certain other properties being used for residential purposes.

The five council members make up the Redevelopment Agency. They will be using the blight report, which details physical and economic neglect in the project area, and other documentation to reach their decision on reinstating the agency’s eminent domain authority for another 12 years.

Eminent domain is the power of a public agency to forcibly acquire private property at fair market value for public use.

One of the main goals of the city’s redevelopment plan includes eliminating blight. The agency’s eminent domain authority expired in 2001, and city leaders have ramped up efforts to get the issue to a council vote for the past two years.

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