Condo Cash

Eminent domain abuse


In 2005 National City, California, threatened to use its power of eminent domain against the Community Youth Athletic Center, a local outfit that takes at-risk youths off the streets and away from the lure of gangs through organized boxing leagues and other activities. Thanks to the notorious example set by the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, officials in National City realized they could collect more tax revenue if the property was in the hands of a private developer who wanted to put luxury condos in the community center's place.

In March, after years of legal wrangling, the community center's case finally went to trial in California Superior Court. So far, National City has stuck with its initial designation of the gym's neighborhood as "blighted," the state of extreme disrepair required to trigger an eminent domain taking under California law.

"This will set precedent," community center spokesman Salvador Rivera told San Diego's on March 14. "Cities and municipalities around the state are not going to be able to just say, 'Hey, we like those properties. We can make them into really nice condos.' They just can't do that anymore if we win this case."