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What's Worse Than eminent Domain?
Sad Day on Main Street
Chain of Events
Project Objections
Opinions and Editorials

Scott Weimer 1-17-08
Mike Silva 2-7-08
John Scott 2-14-08
Harry J. Krebs 2-14-08
Lennie DeCaro 2-21-08
Peter Katz 2-28-08
Newspaper Articles
(Newest Listed First)
GG Journal 9-18-08
OC News Story 2-20-08
GG Journal 1-17-08
GG Journal 1-10-08
OC News Story 1-4-08
OC Register Story 1-3-08
Real Estate Journal 10-8-07
GG Journal 10-4-07
OC News Story 10-3-07
GG Journal 7-26-07
GG Journal 6-28-07
OC Weekly Expose' 4-26-07
OC Register 4-26-07
GG Journal 4-12-07
OC News Story 4-11-07
OC News Editorial 4-11-07
OC News Editorial 11-17-06
GG Journal 10-26-06
Whats worst than eminent domain?
The taking of property without any compensation...That's what!
  And that is exactly what happened when the City of Garden Grove's Redevelopment Agency decided to sell off a community owned parking lot at a discount to one of their campaign contributing developer friends.
  Recently, the mayor and members of the Garden Grove City Council voted to demolish the Main Street parking lot serving the merchants and businesses of the Historic Main Street shopping District. They have voted to take the parking lot, and allow a developer to use the land to build a 5-Story, 100-Unit Condominium complex.
  This action was taken against the wishes of the City Parking Commissioners, the business community, the property owners, and citizens of Garden Grove. During the council meeting, the public spoke OVERWHELMINGLY against this proposed project. All felt that loss of parking would not only cause existing businesses to close down or move away, but would also discourage new business from investing in this 100 year old historic area which predates the City by more than 50 years. After several hours of public testimony, nearly all skeptical, the project was approved last October 24th 2006.
  The developer, Sheldon Public Relations, said "the whole idea here is to benefit Main Street." He furthermore insisted that "I'm convinced there is plenty of parking."
  Others were not so sure. Scott Weimer, President of the Garden Grove Downtown Business Association (GGDBA), said "This project has the potential to adversely affect the Main Street area more cataclysmically than any other event since the 1933 Long Beach earthquake."
  He stated that while the GGDBA was not opposed to the project in principle, the organization did have reservations, especially regarding the questionable processes employed by City Staff to take the property and the disregard for the consensus of the City Parking Commissioners.
  Also controversial with several speakers was the fact that Sheldon was awarded and exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) without making a request for proposal (RFP) so that other developers could present alternate proposals and bid competitively for the ground.
  Most speakers argued that the project would reduce much needed parking in the area, and several scoffed at the approved use of tandem parking, which is illegal as per the City's own municipal code. The density variance which was granted Sheldon for the building of this project was also brought up as being illegal. As per code a project of this size could not be built on any parcel of land less than 5 acres in size. This parking lot is only 1.6 acres.
  What was probably most disconcerting however, was the stipulation by the Council that all of the proceeds from the sale of the lot would be funneled into the City's coffers, rather than back into the Parking District as specified under California State Law.
  Not only has this entire "due process" or lack of it, rubbed the citizens of Main Street the wrong way, but has prompted them into action in an attempt to protect theirs rights and livelihoods. The GGDBA has hence lined up legal council to try and stop the condo project, objecting to procedures and identifying laws that were at least bent, if not broken, in delivering this project to Sheldon on what they refer to as a "silver platter."
  "It could soon be a very sad day on Main Street," said Weimer. "Not without a fight first however. Nearly everyone we've contacted in the public is opposed to it, including the Historical Society," says Weimer. "The impact of the historical value of a 100 year old street must also be considered." Weimer furthermore cites that the City has neglected Main Street for the past 30 years and has now cut a deal that benefits one of their favorite out-of-town developers who regularly contributes financially to several of the Council members election campaigns. "There is only one person who is going to benefit from this - that person is Steve Sheldon!"
  The Association also alleges that the City gave this property to Sheldon for a fraction of its fair market value. The 1.5 million-sale price equates to only $15,000. per condo unit, each of which will ultimately sell for up to $600,000. Other critics like Weimer say they don't understand why the City approved the deal without first opening up the sale of the property to other interested parties and potential bidders as is also required by State Law.
  "The city is bending over backwards to help this developer, and I don't understand why," said J.J. Juaregi, owner of the Azteca Restaurant on Main Street. "It's not right to give exclusive rights to a developer without other bids or even an environmental impact report. They didn't go through any kind of due process."
  "Steve Sheldon came along and saw an opportunity, and has the political connections to grab the land at a discount, get the project rubber-stamped and then sell it off to another developer for a fat profit," said Parking Commissioner Peter Katz. "When we realized the Council was not going to listen to us, we tried to work with Mr. Sheldon to keep our parking," "Parking has forever been a problem down here, and if we lose it, we will lose our customers, and then our businesses and then our livelihoods." Unfortunately the Parking Commissions objections fell on deaf ears and in January the GGDBA came to the conclusion that the only way to have their concerns heard would be to file suit.
  "We did not want to do it this way," said Weimer. "We did everything we could to get the attention of the City Council, but to no avail. Once both the Planning Commission and the Council blew us off, we had no other choice."
  In the Associations search for an attorney experienced and well versed in these matters, they convinced local rising star Sean O'Connor to take the case. Mr. O'Connor's recent notoriety has come following his victory in holding off the neighboring City of Cypress' attempts to confiscate the Cottonwood Christian Center's property and deliver it to Costco under the pretense of eminent domain.
  "The cost of justice is not cheap however," says Mike Silva, property owner, Association Member and major financial contributor to the lawsuit. "The association is into this battle more than $25,000. So far and we have not even gotten to our first court hearing. The City and Sheldon are fighting us tooth and nail, and the legal fees could run up to $100,000," Silva continues, "That is why we have gone public with our plight. If we could just get $1. from everyone who loves or has visited Main Street, we figure we can go the distance!"
Whats worst than eminent domain?
The taking of property without any compensation...That's what!
Send your contributions and letters to:
Save Historic Main Street
12866 Main Street #100
Garden Grove, Ca. 92840