By Brooke Edwards

VICTORVILLE — Three property owners may be forced to sell to make way for the long-awaited Nisqualli Bridge, if the City Council approves the controversial use of eminent domain.

“The properties are necessary for the project,” states a city staff report. “The City has made every reasonable effort to acquire the properties by negotiation but has been unsuccessful.”

Staff has recommended the City Council authorize eminent domain, giving the City Attorney permission to begin action in court against the owners to condemn the properties.

All three properties are zoned commercial and lie along Mariposa Road, which is the site of the proposed off ramp for a bridge over Interstate 15 connecting Nisqualli and La Mesa roads. Two smaller properties are assessed at roughly $390,000, including the vacant lot on the corner of Mariposa and Nisqualli roads. The third parcel, further down Mariposa, is valued at more than $620,000.

The off ramp for the new bridge will either bisect these properties or landlock them, making them inaccessible when Mariposa Road is rerouted.
Councilman Mike Rothschild said he has no problem using eminent domain as long as no one is displaced from their home.

“Eminent domain always gives the property owner a bit more than what it’s worth,” said Rothschild, with the city paying top dollar primarily for “raw land.”

When it comes to the Nisqualli project he said, “In my opinion, eminent domain is appropriate in that situation.”

Discussions between the property owners and the city’s negotiating agent Epic Land Solutions have been “cordial,” the report states, but the owners have so far rejected fair market value offers.

The city already used eminent domain once for development on Nisqualli Road, when it took 1,800 square feet from a half-acre lot to widen the street in March of 2007.

The city is also proposing to use half of its $1.6 million in Proposition 1B funds to construct the second phase of Nisqualli Road improvements, towards a total projected cost of $8.7 million. The remaining money will come from other local funds.

Both the budget item and the proposal to use eminent domain are scheduled to be voted on during the City Council meeting starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall at 14343 Civic Drive.

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