Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eminent Domain returns to Anaheim as White House celebrates 100 years!

Today's post is the official notice of the upcoming meeting for High Speed Rail, scheduled to carve up Anaheim like Sherman's March to the sea. No, I am not kidding. If the plan remains to build the system At Grade, as described in the Alternatives Analysis, there will be right of way takings under eminent domain. I spent the other day photographing the properties that will be lost, and will post those with the pertinent portions of the AA, as my time allows. For now, I would enourage you to open and save the notice here, and please share it with anyone you know who needs to hear about these plans. I am especially concerned about the lack of notice to those businesses and homes that are directly in the path of the project. The State's consultant team has done what can only be described as an information-light job of public outreach to date. Oh yeah, they have done meetings, we have all seen the slick, glossy sales pitch of bullet trains zipping across the screen. My gripe here is that I cannot recall that presentation saying anything about private property takes, or night time construction in residential areas. Nor can anyone I know recall that message being conveyed to us. Heck, checking over the City's listing of workshops and presentations to City Council, I cannot find evidence that the Council has even been told of the Alternative Analysis, and its impact on properties in the City. The last HSRA workshop to the Council was here http://anaheim.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=357 and it was essentially the same presentation we saw. At least Parsons Brinckerhoff did bother to share one sentence with Council, that if they could not get shared track they may have to widen the right of way with takes. I cannot find any evidence that they notified anyone that this is indeed the case, nor that they have already selected the properties they wish to take.

Part of the communication breakdown has been the decision to break the largest transportation project in California history into many mini-projects, each with their own project teams. The purpose was to make a large and unweildy project more manageable, much like eating an elephant one bite at a time. The result has been a complete obsufucation of information, as the State's right hand does not tell the State's left hand what it is doing. To avoid any slight of hand in that handshake, some volunteers have been transcribing the public meetings into written form, which comes in handy, should you need to remind an elected official that they did indeed promise you the sun, moon, and stars. I understand that anyone with the ability to use a keyboard can do this, and there is a tremendous need for more helping hands to transcribe the meetings. If you can spare some time, and you are one of those sick individuals like myself who actually LIKES sitting through these meetings, watching the political chess game unfold, your people need you. Contact me directly and I will put you in touch with folks who know what they are doing (don't look at me, I can barely text message).

In happier news, Bruno Serato shared his new "West Wing" (which sits on the East Lawn, but I digress) with the people of Anaheim, as we celebrated the 100th birthday of the historic Gervais-Truxaw house, now the White House Restaurant. http://www.anaheimwhitehouse.com/ Bruno was quite relieved to see that Mayor Curt Pringle arranged for Bruno's name to be set in a larger font than the Mayor's, on a plaque for the building. While technically the construction of a new, non-contributing structure set in front of a National Register structure would be a violation of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, I am told that the West Wing banquet center is temporary, and portable, and there are plans to move it as soon as additional space can be purchased on the block. That means that the party pavilion is a reversible change, and I am going to encourage the preservation community to give a little wiggle room, as long as it remains a temporary fix. I am far more interested in preserving the house itself. Not everyone knows that the White House Restaurant received the very first Mills Act contract in the City of Anaheim, qualifying for that property tax reduction as a National Register property. Bruno clearly has a lot more work to do on the house, and we are grateful for any of the innapropriate changes that Bruno is able to reverse on this wonderful landmark property!
The Anaheim White House feeds a hot dinner to every child in the Boys and Girls Club, every week night. For many of these kids, this is the only hot food they will eat all week.  Here's best wishes to the man with the biggest heart in Anaheim.


Unknown said...

Eminent domain is a sobering experience -- the equivalent of legal theft. And private property owners facing it quickly learn that they are not standing on a level playing field legally, economically or ethically.

That is where social media come in, like Anaheim Life. You become the equivalent of a Neighborhood Watch Group.

Among other lessons, there is a lot of play in the “just” of “just compensation.” The power of eminent domain brings with it a sense of entitlement. At that point, property owners are merely an obstacle to be swept aside — when, in fact, they possess the key asset coveted by government and the corporation.

But property owners can fight back. Our two-year battle against Houston-based Spectra Energy which seized our property rights for an underground gas storage field led to the development of a website which has begun to attract whistle blowers inside the energy industry. We are collaborating and helping property owners in many states. For info, visit the site: http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/

By the way, our new neighbor, Spectra Energy, has received two Notice of Violations for “unlawful conduct” related to emergency shutdowns and emissions at its storage field in Bedford County, PA. Reports of contaminated water supplies are on the rise since they began operations.

Like Kelo, the ripple effects of eminent domain are never over.

Spokker said...

I certainly hope you refuse to drive on the Santa Ana Freeway, as eminent domain was used to further divide the city when it was widened to nearly 350 feet in some places. I'm sure that those of lesser means, who must rely on their feet or a bicycle to get around, really appreciate it.

Of all the injustices occurring in Southern California, I doubt that taking 35' of land to widen a 1.5 mile segment of a railroad to complete a major infrastructure project is going to break a lot of hearts. People knowingly move next to railroads and then are surprised when plans to upgrade them develop. It boggles the mind.