Eminent domain is repealed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By a 4-0 vote, the council repealed an ordinance passed in October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
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.
CHANGE OF MIND
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