9/16/2006

Palm Springs may use eminent domain to purchase a parcel: Palm Springs CA Desert Sun, 9/13/06

Lois Anderson is wedged between a Hard Rock

By Stefanie Frith

Eminent domain could be used by the city of Palm Springs to purchase a parcel to help the proposed Hard Rock Hotel expand and rise up to 100 feet, sources said Tuesday.

Owned by Lois Anderson of Anderson Travel, the property is the last piece Nexus Development needs to complete a 10-acre parcel at Tahquitz Canyon Way and Calle El Segundo. Nexus is working to bring the Hard Rock hotel and condo combination to town, something the city has touted as a way to help revitalize downtown.

The city of Palm Springs stepped in when it became clear Anderson didn't want to sell her land, said City Manager David Ready. While the city hasn't made a decision about eminent domain yet, it is something it "could do," he said. [As of now, the City of Palm Springs understands that Nexus Development and Lois Anderson are still negotiating for the sale of her property and that the city has only sent a letter to Anderson to make her aware of tax incentives if she sells her property.]

"They (the city) said it was very important I help Palm Springs by doing this," said Anderson.

[Lois Anderson has a web site to gain support for refusing to sell her building at http://psnoeminent domain.typepad.com]

Eminent Domain
Eminent domain is the right of a government entity to acquire private property for public use. The property is acquired through condemnation — a court action during which the court deems the use is a public use and decides the price to be paid to the owner.

How does it happen?
A government entity expresses interest in a property and gets it appraised; an offer is made on the property.

A “resolution of necessity” is adopted by a two-thirds vote (in Palm Springs’ case, by four of five council members) that allows the eminent domain proceedings to begin. The entity then has six months from the adoption of the resolution to file a condemnation case.

After an eminent domain case is filed, it could take anywhere from three to four months before the court orders that the condemning agency may take possession of the property after depositing funds with the court.

If a settlement is not reached, the eminent domain case continues. Litigation of an eminent domain case could take a year or more, depending upon courtroom availability.

At any point, the municipal entity and owner could settle.

Cathedral City
[Separately, Cathedral City] officials recently approved a 23-acre residential and retail project in downtown that initially proposed to demolish two landmark restaurants — El Gallito and Red Tomato. The property would have been taken via eminent domain laws. Following a grass-roots movement initiated by the restaurant owners, the city backed off of its plan and members of the City Council now say that the project will be built around the two eateries.


Palm Springs CA Desert Sun: http://www.thedesertsun.com