Roy Fowler has been forced to shut down his family business, after two years of fighting the City of Azusa’s threat to seize his property by eminent domain. City council members want to replace his furniture business with a restaurant, grocery store, and other businesses they like better than Roy’s.
The city council slapped Roy’s thriving business with a “blight” label a few years ago, in order for it to be included in their “redevelopment” plan for the area. Roy fought to save his business by challenging the blight designation and the inclusion of his property in court. His efforts were all for naught. Last fall, the judge ignored the evidence that Roy’s property was not “blighted” and rubberstamped the inclusion of the city’s redevelopment plan.
Upon hearing the judge’s decision, Roy’s attorney, Christopher Sutton, compared California redevelopment trails to the Salem Witch Trials. “‘It is like the government declaring you a witch,’ Sutton said. ‘An accusation of blight is the same as an accusation of witchcraft. You have no ability to rebut it.'”
Ironically, even though the city is forcing Roy to close shop before the end of April, the city council has not yet selected a developer to carry out their big plans. The lot will now sit vacant until the city goes through this lengthy process. Even then, there is no guarantee the city will be able to attract the businesses the city prefers.
Be sure to check out Redevelopment Wrecks, 20 Failed Projects Involving Eminent Domain Abuse, which documents how “plans” similar to Azusa’s often fail to produce the development and subsequent windfall of tax revenue politicians expect.