In a sweeping move aimed at assuming ownership of land for the proposed Santa Ana Auto Mall, the city has filed seven eminent domain lawsuits against six property owners.
Six of the suits were filed Thursday, the seventh on Friday.
The suits seek to exercise the city's right to acquire property through condemnation. The city has put on deposit about $2 million to cover the cost of the land purchases, deputy City Atty. Robert Wheeler said.
A legal battle could arise over two of the properties. Last month, property owners Oris and Dorothy Matkin filed a suit against the city in an effort to ward off the takeover attempt.
That suit has not yet been served on the city, Wheeler said. Attorneys for the Matkins were unavailable for comment Friday.
The Matkins own Soil and Plant Laboratory Inc., 1530-34 S. Trotter Ave. Other properties named in the suits are in the 2000 and 2100 blocks of East Edinger Avenue.
The Matkins' suit against the city challenges the validity of contracts and agreements between the Redevelopment Agency and automobile dealerships planning to locate on a 44-acre site near Edinger Avenue and the Costa Mesa Freeway. It also questions the legality of the $21-million price the city would pay for the property.
Most of the sprawling Auto Mall site is owned by the Santa Fe Land Improvement Co. in the South Main Street redevelopment area.