In February, more than 30 threatened property owners and activists joined IJ staff members in Long Beach, Calif., for a Castle Coalition activist workshop.
IJ’s Director of Community Organization Christina Walsh equipped attendees with effective and practical grassroots and media strategies that residents from Long Beach immediately applied by forming a new coalition, Long Beach Citizens Against Eminent Domain Abuse. Officials there recently reauthorized the city’s power of eminent domain, putting more than 5,000 acres of homes, businesses and churches on the chopping block for 12 more years. The city is taking advantage of a huge loophole in Prop. 99 (the very weak eminent domain reform tax-hungry government officials sponsored last year to detract support from more robust reform) by requiring new homeowners to submit to ongoing inspections of their property and to meet absurd criteria in order to be exempt from condemnation.
IJ Washington Chapter’s Executive Director Bill Maurer explained this convoluted abuse of power in his talk on preparing for legal action in California, where the state’s complex redevelopment laws are nearly impossible to traverse and, as demonstrated by Long Beach, open to manipulation by the powers-that-be.
Attendees also heard from Marko Mlikotin of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights and Cruz Sembello, a leader of an activist group in Baldwin Park, which successfully fought the seizure of more than 100 acres for private development by using strategies outlined in the Castle Coalition’s Survival Guide.
IJ will continue to train and equip activists across the country to fight to keep what they have worked so hard to own until every person’s home is once again their castle.