Renewing eminent domain authority in Seaside

Tonight at 6 pm, there will be a townhall meeting at City Hall in Seaside, Calif. The eminent domain authority in part of the city’s West Urban Village redevelopment area is set to expire in April, and, assuming the city renews the authority, the next time Seaside officials are required to hear objections of residents will be in 2020! Right now, they are in the process of choosing an advisory committee. According to the Monterey County Herald, the agenda of tonight’s meeting concerns the election of 13 of the 15 members of the advisory committee. The election takes place later this month.

The city of Seaside approved the current project area in 1996 when it merged seven redevelopment areas into one, and with the project approval came eminent domain authority. California’s tepid eminent domain reform mandates that eminent domain authority for such projects expire within 12 years of approval–essentially a procedural inconvenience for municipalities. All a city needs to do, however, is to renew that authority by amending the redevelopment plan, and there is no limit to how many times it can be renewed. Nevertheless, any time one of these eminent domain authorities needs to be renewed, it is a precious opportunity for residents to object and attempt to prevent the renewal of eminent domain authority in these redevelopment areas.

So far, there is a growing opposition to the effort to renew the authority for eminent domain in the area, in part because of a couple of development proposals already in the works, including a hotel and conference center designed by former MLB player Reggie Jackson and his team of developers. The city seems to have few qualms about exercising eminent domain for private development. In the case of the Jackson plan, the city has promised to give Jackson “help” should he need it. So, should any property owners who own the 17 homes, four business and one church not agree to sell, the city will simply condemn the properties and give them to Jackson.