Eminent domain is repealed

Staring in the face of a referendum that would have overturned its

decision, the City Council changed its mind Monday about buying Downtown

residential properties by force.

‘The council is responsive to the will of the people,’ City Councilman

Tom Harman said. ‘They’re getting what they wanted.’

By a 4-0 vote, the council repealed an ordinance passed in October

that would have allowed the city to use the power of eminent domain over

nine apartments above El Don liquor store in the 400 block of Pacific

Coast Highway. City officials are still negotiating a decision on what to

do with an apartment behind Papa Joe’s pizza.

Those rental units stand in the way of a multimillion dollar hotel,

restaurant and retail complex that the council favors.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, council members Ralph Bauer,

Dave Garofalo and Pam Julien abstained because they own property near

that area and could benefit financially from the project.

City officials hope that the owner of the spared building cooperates

with the project’s developer. But even if he doesn’t, the project can

work around his property, said David Biggs, the city’s director of

economic development.

Fearing other homes would be threatened in the future, a group calling

itself Huntington Beach Cares gathered more than the 10,000 signatures

needed for the referendum, according to a letter from the county’s

registrar of voters dated Dec. 3. That would have set the stage for a

ballot election either in March or November.

But because of the council’s reversal, that’s no longer necessary.

Resident Ralph Peck regrets not having the opportunity to ‘embarrass’

city officials at the polls.

‘We’ve been denied our ultimate victory,’ he said.



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