Council Unanimously Approves Eminent Domain on K St.

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The city and Moe Mohanna have been going back and forth for years on how to redevelop the run-down 700 and 800 blocks of K Street. Mohanna says he thought a deal was near – until Tuesday’s vote.

Mohanna: “For me, emotionally, when the city wants to confiscate my land, it’s very difficult for me to act in good faith with them. I was believing in them, I trusted them, they betrayed me.”

But the city’s backers pointed to the years of fruitless talks – and a land swap agreement that’s stuck in court. Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce president Matthew Mahood said his members would normally oppose the government taking private property. He called eminent domain a last resort.

Mahood: “If the city and Moe Mohanna can’t come to an agreement to move forward, then what other options do you have? Our membership is made up of 80 percent small businesses, but they want a strong, vibrant economy and that’s what we’re fighting for today.”

To Mayor Heather Fargo, Tuesday’s vote shows how serious the city is about revitalizing downtown.

Fargo: “We are going to fix K Street. K Street is going to become a retail street in Sacramento that people can be proud of. And we’re going to do what it takes to get there.”

So now, the city and Mohanna go back to court – while the city’s previous lawsuit remains unresolved. Mohanna’s attorney, Myron Moskovitz, says he’s filed 13 separate objections to the city using eminent domain here, and he’s confident his client will win.

Moskovitz: “If the court accepts even one of the 13, then the city cannot condemn. They lose the case; they pay not only their attorneys out of taxpayers’ funds, they pay our attorneys out of taxpayers’ funds.”

In the meantime, negotiations will continue – maybe. Both sides say they’re still open to working out a deal. But after Tuesday’s vote, Mohanna said he personally didn’t want to meet with the city any more. Then, he added, maybe his attorneys would be a little more rational.