Eminent Domain, We Need You!

No, this isn’t about the prolonged pissing match between stubborn Moe Mohanna and stubborn city officials and stubborn homeless people along K Street.  This is about my hood, the ‘Cade, Arden/Arcade that is.

The former home of Tower Records and Tower Books on Watt Avenue at El Camino is slowly turning into a commercial property nightmare, replete with graffiti, homeless folks, and that harbinger of property worthlessness, the Spirit Halloween Store.

It’s true, the site of former greatness, where I bought my first J.J. Johnson album is now just a dirty shell, attracting crime and dragging down the neighborhood.  I, as a citizen, want to do something about it.  Here’s the problem though, I have no idea what to do.  Do I start showing up at those worthless Arcade cityhood meetings?  Do I start an “action group”?  Do I call Marcos Breton? Or even better, Carlos Alcala?  Tell me, readers, for I am lost in a sea of citizen action.

35 thoughts on “Eminent Domain, We Need You!”

  1. Do I get political here? You know what, it’s the Thursday before Christmas and I just got done with a White Elephant exchange in the office. I’m feeling festive and don’t want to get too uppity.

    Get on your city council to A) bring a nuisance claim against the landowner for leaving an abandoned property to attract blight, B) convince the city to purchase the property from the derelict landowners (which won’t happen because the city ain’t going to be playing the real estate game unless they can guarantee themselves a win); or C) persuade your Best Buy/Urban Outfitters/Borders/Other Big Brick’n’Morter to purchase said land and develop it for themselves.

    Mrs. Scooter and I just had a serious discussion about the slippery-slope implications of using Eminent Domain to take from the crappy property owner to give to the pretty property owner because it better suits the aesthetic of the neighborhood.

    Or choose D) purchase the land and open up a Sac Eat’s Hof Brau.

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  2. The real question is what would best complement the existing bowling alley and Hof Brau that are the bookends to the former Tower site?

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  3. I know a certain music loving food critic who could open a dandy independent record store in a place like this. One with, well, records (unlike some other “record” stores around”, and real ones at that, not the cast off Donna Summers, Crystal Gayle, Helen Reddy, Saturday Night Fever, everyone had’em thrift store recoveries, good records. Jazz, Comedy, Blues, Classical, etc. $1.00 each, or 12 for $8.00. .

    I learned about music by inheriting records from family and friends and the occational purchase from the record store or aforementioned record store. I would listen to a few songs and decide if I liked the music and if I did I kept it, and if I didnt I passed it along somehow.

    We need a place like this for our youth to learn about music. A place with a mile long row of turntables with earphones and, and, records that aren’t sealed shut. In fact, they have the worn cover and faint musty smell of well loved music. Sure at Borders or B and N you can listen at a “listening station”, which is great if you want to become a lover of the six CD albums corporate music marketing big wigs want you to love (this month), but it’s no where near as fun, or educational as browsing around, picking out a few vinyl albums, sliding one out of its worn paper cover, blowing across it (even though it’s not really dusty, thats just what you do with albums) and settling in on a worn diner barstiool at “your” turntable for a few hours (thats right, loitering, we love loitering) and enjoying music, the company of other people who love music, and a pack of those cheddar cheese sandwich crackers with peanut butter in the middle and a cup of fresh Peets Coffee (did I mention you had a Peet’s Coffee counter). Oh by the way, I’m talking about you Sac-Eats. Open this place. If you build it (or renovate) they will come.

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  4. I’m flattered, but, sans the Peet’s counter (and who doesn’t need a Peet’s counter) that type of environment already exists a few doors down from the ‘Brau at Esoteric Records on El Camino. Speaking of which, they deserve their own post.
    What about live music? Hmmmmm, that’s an idea.

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  5. Is that part of Watt Avenue even within the Sacramento city limits, or is it in the unincorporated “uncity” area? You may not have a city councilmember to hassle. In the county, you’re pretty much doomed. Talk to your county supervisor.

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  6. Do I start an “action group”? Do I call ….

    I’d suggest an arsonist. Heh … just kidding.

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  7. Please do something with that space if not only to remove the cliche hybrid, “All things must pass”, sign out front.

    Hmmm, that’s not a bad idea. I wonder if http://www.clichehybrid.com is available. People love anything hybrid. I could author a blog about it. “You can lead an old dog to water, but you can’t make him do new tricks”

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  8. Hey,
    Mr. Eats, I think it would make a dandy eating establishment. Think of all the creativity you and Mrs. Easts could apply.
    And, if all else fails, it would be nice to bring an ExtremePizza to the neighborhood.

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  9. What Fauxpaws said. Everything else will only take years and years. You could always call code enforcement, or file your own nuisance suit against the owners.

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  10. psst… it is County-From-Hell area…no city jurisdiction. (And I know… I spent many of my juvenile years hanging around “Tower of Posters” watching posters ebb and flow after injesting various marijuana-influenced substances.) In other words, unless you get the media involved (flashes her own tarnished CSUS journalism degree from 1983 in dismay) no one will get involved. My suggestion is to contact one of the columnists, or one of the editorial staff (Ginger Rutland is a good bet) and see what you can stir up….

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  11. Many, (or most), specialty stores sell things that people can do without… crafts, sporting goods, (even records and CDs)… Stores such as Wal-Mart and Target sell a lot of junk, but they sell some useful things too. I guess eventually some store will be there… which will sell a lot of junk that people can buy and stuff into their closets.

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  12. sac-eats, what the hell do you know about eminent domain??

    Why don’t you learn more about it before you proclaim so loudly that it is the absolute best solution to your problem.

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  13. See, was that so hard? You could have just said that to begin with.
    Merry Christmas to you too, too. May Christ, our Lord, bless you in this our celebration of his birth by the virgin Mary, with patience, tolerance, good-judgment, and regular bathing.

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  14. Bahahaha- “tell your counselperson.” Yeah- and write your senator while you are at it. Maybe protest out in front too? Oh- and don’t forget to “boycott” the owner’s other businesses! You’d have kids and send then through 15 years of grad school before you saw any results that way. I’m not saying burning the place down is the RIGHT (or legal) thing to do, but its the only thing that will cause any changes within the next 10 years– other than you buying the place and fixing it up yourself. Which is the socailly responsable thing to advocate. Ergo, you should buy it. How ’bout a Starbucks and “Nails by Brandi”?

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  15. I didn’t write “tell your counselperson” and if I did I would have spelled “council” right. I wrote “listen and see what’s really going on” i.e. be informed instead of ignorant. The devil is in the details (and in other places..that’s why you need Christ our Lord and the virgin Mary and all the saints too).

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  16. Also, here’s the shortlist of tenants that I would love to see at the old Tower spot:

    1. Either of the Berkeley music behemoths, Rsputin Records or Amoeba Music.

    2. Adult playground Dave & Buster’s

    3. It’s about time we had some gelato in the AA. Bring it on, and since the beauty supply joint is closing, the small retail spaces between the two Tower stores is wide open.

    4. Chicago Fire or equivalent pizza purveyor.

    5. Or, if you want to think way way outside the box, how ’bout a small two screen art house movie theater, with one screen dedicated to pre 1980 films.

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  17. This could also be the perfect spot for the veggie/vegan casual diner-type place that is lacking and would certainly be popular. It would be a nice complement to the Hof Brau (try the turkey sandwich with the roll dunked in au jus with a side of German potato salad.)

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  18. Eminent Domain is a very unfair law because of its creation and relationship to the state….big brother $$$$$

    When the Pilgrims moved here from England, they moved to get away from the King and his laws. They left most of his laws behind. Eminent domain is one of the laws that they did not leave behind.
    Eminent domain may need to be used in a dire emergency, when there is no other way around the issue, but when they use this law as a “tool” to get property for pennies on the dollar and use strong arm tactics,abusing their power in doing so, the law is being misused and abused.
    More and more people are being abused under this law.
    In 1993, my husband, two young children and I were put out of our beautiful home into the street without another home to go to, court ordered to get out by the judge who took our home to begin with. One hundred and ten homes were taken to enable the City of Fort Myers, Florida to put in a spring training facility for the Boston Red Sox. We were railroaded by a crooked political system and severely abused. Sincerely, Angela
    Odessaday@aol.com

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  19. FYI: as someone who has also been personally involved in eminent domain, there are usually months, if not years, of notice that the action is being pursued and personal notice is given to all residents being affected. Given that Florida is inherently a crooked state (or does anyone remember the Bush/Gore election?) where developers have stacked the deck and have govt. folks in their pockets (my ex’s father was a prominent developer of golf resort subdivisions, and he had quite a few stories) it is possible that for you the system did not work there in Florida the way it usually does here in CA.

    In my case, the City of Citrus Heights bought the duplex my g/f and I were renting, along with about 30 other properties, to widen Greenback Lane. The project was actually in the public interest, given the number of accidents that occur on that street due to overcrowding and people driving like maniacs trying to pass one another. We knew it was coming for about 12 months prior to our move; there were also a number of public hearings, and so the plan was modified due to input from the neighbors. The owner of the property where we lived received about $80,000 over market value (I saw the escrow documents) and we received about $34,000, plus moving expenses, since finding a comparable dwelling — a three bedroom duplex — based on our combined income (she had cancer was unable to work) would be an economic hardship. So in my case, it worked out fine, and there certainly was plenty of warning to us and to everyone else being relocated.

    Another example of “good” emininent domain are some of the properties in Oak Park (liquor stores that were havens for gangbanger and drugdealers) that were taken over by the City of Sacramento, through the use of emininent domain and either demolished or sold to new, more responsible owners.

    There are always bad stories we hear about emininent domain, but there are good ones too.

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  20. Angela,
    a) Thanks to your family’s sacrifice, the Boston Red Sox have won two World Series titles and women in Newton, MA can now rest easy at night knowing their men won’t beat them due to latent rage in their baseball team’s futility.
    b) The reason the Pilgrims left England was because nobody could put up with their sanctimonious crap anymore.

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  21. “and women in Newton, MA can now rest easy at night knowing their men won’t beat them due to latent rage in their baseball team’s futility.”

    Sac-Eats….. I know this was meant as a lighthearted joke, but as someone who has been a past victim of domestic abuse… not so funny. But I’m sure you’ve already heard this from Mrs. Eats.

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  22. FYI: Supercuts has now moved into the old Tower of Books locale on Watt… See, eminent domain may not be necessary. We can have “Supercuts” for hair, “DermaCuts” for skin peels; and “BrisCuts” for circumcisions. Who said Watt Avenue and El Camino had to be a wasteland?

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  23. In response to NotMablibuBarbie. If the rental property was taken by the DOT ..Department of Transportation, that is a whole different aspect of taking than when private property is taken for private gain, when one property is taken from one and is given to another. This is a form of stealing, cut and dry.

    This is in response to Sac-eats. The next time you watch a baseball game just remember that the taxpayers are the blind being led by the blind, because the taxpayers are doing this to themselves by taking their own homes away from themselves, their children and grandchildren, because it is THEIR TAXPAYERS MONEY THAT IS DOING THIS WITH their own TAXPAYING DOLLARS. We have all been duped! Welcome to the club of fools Sac-eats. What good will baseball games be, if you don’t have any property rights in the future? Commercial value…..sits over family value.

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  24. I may be in the club of fools, but at least I’m not in your club of batshitcrazypantsrunonsentences. Ever heard of a possessive apostrophe?

    Can you tell I’m in a pissy mood?

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  25. Beware of buying and investing your money into cities. Cites are BIG targets for eminent domain. It seems that Code Enforcement does not do their jobs properly in cities and they let areas get run down (maybe on purpose?) which creates “redevelopment areas” and eminent domain. Also there is a lot of abandoment in cities because they can’t sell their properties. Dark clouds hover over these properties as people are leery buying property downtown. People don’t travel downtown anymore as they once did, to do their shopping. Now they only go downtown primarily to use City Hall, the courthouse and some office buildings. Angela

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