Martinez Property Owners Vow to Keep Up the Fight

The City of Martinez, Calif., is at it again.

Despite local property owners having passed a referendum in 2004 to prevent the city from creating a redevelopment agency in Martinez, Vice Mayor Lara DeLaney is once again trying to force one through the city council.[1] And once again, is facing stiff opposition.

The State of California recently announced they will be taking billions of dollars from local redevelopment agencies to help plug the state’s budget deficit. Yet DeLaney continues her enthusiasm for creating such an agency in Martinez.[2]

Earlier in May, the city council held a meeting to discuss the creation of a redevelopment agency. Property owners that attended the meeting were decidedly against the council’s proposal because of concerns about eminent domain abuse. City officials have tried to convince residents their concerns are unwarranted because the council would not include residential property within future redevelopment areas. But residents know this puts their livelihoods on the chopping block.[3]

OPEN Martinez, the same group of concerned property owners who fought the agency’s formation in 2004, has vowed to fight the city council again. IJ’s Christina Walsh, director of activism and coalitions, traveled to Martinez in March to train them to be effective advocates against eminent domain abuse. A month later, State Assemblyman Chris Norby spoke at the group’s community meeting, where he explained how Proposition 99 fails to protect private property like the city alleges.[4] He pointed out that state law has multiple loopholes that allow redevelopment agencies to use eminent domain to seize homes, even if council members claim they will not use it.

Be sure to visit the OPEN Martinez website for more information on their ongoing efforts.

[1] Lisa P. White, “Same players, same debate at redevelopment kickoff,” Contra Costa Times, March 31, 2010.
[2] Lisa P. White, “Martinez slows push for redevelopment,” Contra Costa Times, May 6, 2010.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Lisa P. White, “State representative blasts redevelopment,” Contra Costa Times, April 20, 2010.