Good Guys Win in California

We haven’t read the court’s statement of decision yet, but it appears that the good guys at the Institute for Justice have scored another victory for the other good guys — the beleaguered property owners in National City, California.

A California trial court has ruled that the redevelopment agency of National City failed to establish that the subject property was blighted and as such subject to redevelopment. This is a particularly morally satisfying decision because the subject property has been used as a boxing club catering to poor kids in the area and its taking would deprive them of a recreational opportunity.

We should note that this is not the first time that National City got its knuckles rapped. In Sweetwater Valley Civic Ass’n. v. City of National City, 18 Cal.3d 270 (1976), the California Supreme Court held that National City’s attempt to “redevelop” a golf course into a shopping mall was improper, holding also that in establishing blight a city must demonstrate that the subject property is presently blighted, and the city’s argument that its proposed [re]development would make the subject property better was insufficient to demonstrate that the golf course was blighted as of the time of taking.

So it looks like the bad guys in this matter have not learned their lesson. But then again, as one of our favorite lines goes: hey, man — it’s California. So who knows what the appellate courts will say? Let’s stay tuned and hope for the best.

Follow up. This news item has made its way onto the Associated Press wire service, from which we learn that ”

“National City wanted to make way for a 24-story, mixed-use condominium project that has since been derailed.”

And so, another redevelopment project bites the dust.

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