If at First You Don’t Succeed, Fail, Fail Again

Don’t miss the LA Times story by Angel Jennings, L.A. County Wants to Take Blighted Property, April 23, 2018, at p. B1. It tells the story of a land owner who stands to win our “lucky Pierre” award for being the subject of not one, but two eminent domain actions seeking to take his large plot of land that has been sitting vacant since the 2005 riots, and which — according to its owner — was blighted by the city’s activities, so it became an invitation to homeless folks’ encampments, and generally not what comes to mind when you speak of an area to be redeveloped with a mall, entertainment facilities, a restaurant, etc.

Long story short, the owner actually broke ground 2005, for a project of his own. But nothing came of it. He blames the city for this result. Anyway, nothing came of the city’s intention to take and redevelop the place, because California, in a rare stroke of common sense abolished redevelopment, whereupon the condemnation had to be abandoned (and attorneys’ fees and damages totaling $5.2 million paid to the owner).

Now, starting in 2017, the county filed another condemnation action seeking to do what the city couldn’t, and wants to take the property for assorted public uses like stores, entertainment facilities and — are you ready? — a facility for NASA lectures. The owner is resisting the taking on a variety of grounds, and the fight is on. In the meantime the subject area is known to local cops as “death alley” because of its high homicide rate.

We can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Stay tuned. And do read that lengthy LA Times piece cited above.

Follow up: The blog la.streetsblog.org reports that the Los Angeles Superior Court (trial court) has ruled in favor of the County’s right to take. Sahra Suleiman, County Wins Control of Vermont/Manchester Lots in Superior Court Ruling, April 26, 2018. So the condemnation can now proceed to its next stage which is the determination by a jury of the “just compensation” payable to the owner. We can’t wait.

Other than these hard facts, the just cited post is a classic redevelopment puff piece that holds out the hope of the equivalent of urban sugar plum fairies. And a fine piece of PR BS it is. Among other things it says that the process of eminent domain is subject to “tight constraints” — no, we are not making it up — and in noting how the area was devastated by 1990s riots, it uses the term “unrest.” It doesn’t get any more politically correct than that.

Of course, as the proverb goes, there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip, so what will actually be built on this site, if anything, is yet to be seen. Stay tuned!