By A.J. Hazarabedian

West Oakland may amend their eminent domain policy to include commercial properties.  This potential change came about due to the rising need for a new grocery store in town.

The San Francisco Business Times blog Bay Area BizTalk featured a posted titled, “Talks of Eminent Domain Stirs Fears in West Oakland,” discussing the possible acquisition of a “five-acre piece of land at the corner of West Grand Avenue and Filbert Street that currently has an industrial warehouse and an auto body shop sitting on it.”  This land would be used by Foods Co. which is part of Kroger, for a grocery store in a town which has been dubbed “a grocery desert.”

According to the blog, Foods Co. has been attempting negotiations with the property owners to purchase the property, but has not been successful.  The post also mentions residents fears that if the eminent domain policy has changed to include commercial properties, residential properties may not be too far behind.

The redevelopment agency will discuss the potential amendment in a hearing on October 5, 2010.

It should be noted that this is precisely the type of exercise of eminent domain that has created a great deal of public distrust in recent years.  That the City may want to see a grocery store in the area is understandable.  To take private property from its owner to turn it over to a private grocery chain, however, is quite another thing.