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Fountain Valley ready to part with more parcels for 405 Freeway expansion

Fountain Valley ready to part with more parcels for 405 Freeway expansion
The city of Fountain Valley owns the land under Mike Thompson’s RV, off the 405 Freeway at Ward Street, and could sell some of it to the Orange County Transportation Authority for freeway widening. The city leases the land to the motor home dealer. (Photo by Hillary Davis)

Fountain Valley is mulling selling swaths of city-owned land near the Ward and Euclid street exits of the 405 Freeway to make way for the freeway’s expansion.

If approved by the City Council, the land sales would net the city about $1.4 million.

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The parcels include a small segment along the drainage channel between the northbound 405 and the Euclid Street off-ramp and a 15,726-square-foot rectangular strip on the southbound side that the city leases to Mike Thompson’s RV as a piece of its motor home sales lot and service center.

The Orange County Transportation Authority filed an eminent domain case last year against the city and Mike Thompson’s to acquire the Ward Street property. Neither the city nor Mike Thompson’s contested OCTA’s right to take the land, only the valuation.

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Eminent domain is the power of a governing body to take property for public use for “just” compensation to the owner.

OCTA eventually settled with Fountain Valley on $1.2 million. The agency is negotiating separately with Mike Thompson’s on its share of the loss, which OCTA appraised at about $1.67 million.

Work at Ward Street is expected to begin in 2020.

The city’s Euclid Street property, which would sell for $180,000, is a more straightforward transaction. The city said it doesn’t need the land and called OCTA’s offer reasonable.

The City Council will vote on the two potential sales at its March 5 meeting.

The acquisitions are among hundreds expected along the 405, which is in the early stages of a long-planned $1.9-billion expansion project on a 16-mile portion between the 73 Freeway in Costa Mesa and the 605 Freeway near Rossmoor.

The OCTA board voted last year to acquire a sliver of an industrial parcel, also near Euclid in Fountain Valley, and pieces of apartment and medical office properties in Huntington Beach for the widening. In all, OCTA has said the expansion is affecting 305 properties along the project’s length.

Construction kicked off last year and is expected to be completed in 2023.

The plan includes a new general-purpose lane and a new “express” toll lane in both directions. The existing carpool lane in each direction will be converted to a second toll lane. The project also will widen or replace nearly 20 bridges and renovate various freeway ramps.

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