Eminent Domain Hollywood Style
November 3, 2005, 1:24 PM
Filed under: City Commission, Development

November 3, 2005

Earlier post on seizure of the Mach property here.

On Nov. 2, the Hollywood City Commission adopted a resolution providing a set of procedures to govern the use of eminent domain.  Procedures, in general, are a good thing and somewhat lacking in Hollywood City Government.
However, absent from these eminent domain procedures are two crucial protections, both of which have been addressed by more progressive cities grappling with the public outcry that arose after the Supreme Court’s Kelo ruling.    Missing from Hollywood’s procedures are the following:

  • A prohibition on the use of eminent domain that would result in seizure of owner-occupied homes for the use of a private developer, and
  • A prohibition on the use of eminent domain for development that evicts people from their homes with no provision for alternative affordable housing for them to occupy.

The newly adopted procedures will enable to city to seize private property under the following conditions:

  • Prior to initiating an eminent domain action, the City Commission must conclude a finding of “public purpose.”
  • Determination of “public purpose” shall be considered through an advertised public hearing with individual notices to all affected property owners a minimum of 10 days prior to the hearing date.
  • A 5/7 vote of the City Commission shall be required for a determination of “public purpose.”

Subject to a finding of “public purpose” the use of eminent domain shall only be applied after the City Commission finds that all reasonable efforts to acquire the subject property shall have been exhausted. Such efforts shall include:

  • informing the property owner of the proposed plans for the property, and
  • having an appraisal completed and provided to the property owner, and
  • submitting a written offer to the property owner of record for at least the appraised value, and
  • making a good faith effort to negotiate with the property owner to purchase the property, and
  • receiving a rejection of the offer or no response to the offer, and
  • a showing that the City has exhausted all reasonable efforts to acquire the property through negotiations, as well as showing that the acquisition of the property is essential to the proposed project.

These procedures will apply to both the City and the City’s Community Redevelopment Agencies, according to the resolution adopted by the City Commission.

The City’s claim that these procedures “balance private property rights, public purposes, and community interests” seems more fiction than fact given its neglect of protection for home owners and displacees — and it is the sort of statement that feeds the public cynicism so detrimental to a healthy society.  The City’s continued use of eminent domain may feed the public anger as well, as the next municipal election or prior recall efforts may demonstrate.

Sara Case
November 3, 2005

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