Civil Liberties

Major Property Rights Victory in California


Great news out of California last week, where Superior Court Judge Steven R. Denton struck down National City's attempt to use eminent domain against the Community Youth Athletic Center, a local outfit focused on keeping at-risk youths off the streets and away from gangs. As the San Diego Union Tribune reports:

In this case, National City was trying to renew its eminent domain authority over the city's redevelopment zone for another decade, affecting some 692 properties, to clear the way for a 24-story mixed-use condominium development proposed by a private developer.

Landowners, led by the [Community Youth Athletic Center], sued in 2007, arguing the city didn't have the evidence required under the law.

In his ruling, the judge agreed with almost every contention that the landowners made, saying the city did not provide "specific, quantifiable evidence about the location and prevalence of the alleged blighting conditions."

It's also worth noting that this is the first decision to apply California's post-Kelo eminent domain reforms, which were designed precisely to prevent abusive situations like this one. Government officials and development agency bureaucrats around the state can't be very happy with this one—which is always a good sign when it comes to eminent domain cases. For more, check out's 2007 report on the case, "National City: Eminent Domain Gone Wild."