Eminent Domain Case Dismissed on Technicality, Gym Will Appeal

John Kramer
John Kramer · February 15, 2008

Arlington, Va.—Citing a technicality, a California Superior Court judge today dismissed a major legal challenge brought by the Community Youth Athletic Center (CYAC), a nonprofit boxing and mentoring program in National City for at-risk inner city youth. The CYAC brought suit in September 2007 under the U.S. and California constitutions and state law after National City reenacted a blight designation covering hundreds of properties, including the gym, and reauthorized the use of eminent domain for ten more years.

The Superior Court dismissed the CYAC’s entire lawsuit because a legal notice published in the back of two area newspapers contained a date that was off by one business day.

“The Court made a serious error in concluding that some incredibly minor technicality is more important than the CYAC’s constitutional and other legal rights,” said Dana Berliner, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice.

The purpose of National City’s blight designation and eminent domain authority is to allow National City to transfer valuable property from rightful owners, like the CYAC, to private developers for the latter’s private economic benefit. By replacing modest property owners like the CYAC with wealthier ones, all for the benefit of private developers, the city hopes to generate more tax revenue.

“National City’s reliance on a tiny technicality shows just how badly the city wants to avoid anyone seeing that its bogus blight designation is illegal and unconstitutional,” added Jeff Rowes, staff attorney with the Institute for Justice.

Berliner concluded, “This is the first round of this fight, but we’re ready to go the distance. The CYAC intends to appeal and we will win the next round and this entire fight.”