Sierra Madre Lets Voters Decide Breadth of Eminent Domain Power

Sierra Madre will allow its citizens to decide whether the city can use the power of eminent domain for private purposes.  According to a Pasadena Star-News article, "Sierra Madre resident[s] will vote on eminent domain," the city council agreed to put a proposed measure on the April 2010 ballot which would prevent the city from (1) condemning property and turning it over to a private developer, and (2) funding or cooperating with any other city agency using eminent domain (such as the Redevelopment Agency).

According to the article, City councilman John Buchanan is quoted as saying:

Taking one person's private property to hand it to another is morally questionable, to say the least.

Wondering why the city does not simply pass an ordinance prohibiting the use of eminent domain for private purposes if the board members are against such use?  The answer, apparently, is that the board considered doing so in reaction to Kelo, but ultimately determined such an ordinance could be overturned by future city councils.  If the measure is passed by the voters, it would be much harder to overturn.

Sierra Madre is not the first city to consider prohibiting the use of eminent domain for private purposes.  In fact, its proposed measure is modelled after the City of Yorba Linda's 2008 Measure BB, which was passed with nearly 80 percent approval.  And in 2007, Arcadia voters banned the use of eminent domain in the city's downtown redevelopment area.

  • Bradford B. Kuhn
    Partner

    Brad Kuhn, Chair of Nossaman's Eminent Domain & Valuation Group, guides private and public sector clients through complex real estate development and infrastructure projects – particularly with eminent domain/inverse ...

California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain in California. We cover all aspects of eminent domain in California, including condemnation, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings. We also keep track of current cases, project announcements, budget issues, legislative reform efforts, and report on all major California eminent domain conferences and seminars.

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