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Thread: Behold: The Thread of Threads (Wal-Mart may lose property via Eminent Domain!)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Behold: The Thread of Threads (Wal-Mart may lose property via Eminent Domain!)

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...5/HERCULES.TMP

    Quote Originally posted by San Francisco Gate
    HERCULES
    City to consider taking land from Wal-Mart
    Prime bay property could be seized by eminent domain
    Patrick Hoge, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Friday, May 5, 2006
    The Hercules City Council will consider whether to use eminent domain to wrest a 17-acre property from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. after the nation's largest retailer rejected a city offer to buy the site with views of San Pablo Bay, city officials said Thursday.

    The council asked that a "resolution of necessity'' be brought to it for discussion, City Manager Mike Sakamoto said. The matter has been put on the council's May 23 agenda. Efforts to reach council members about Thursday's announcement were unsuccessful.

    Wal-Mart bought the property overlooking central Hercules in November after another developer received city approvals for a neighborhood shopping center.

    In February, city planners recommended denying Wal-Mart's proposal for a big-box store on its property, saying the plan was not in keeping with what had been approved for the location, which commands a view of one of the Bay Area's most vaunted New Urbanist communities, with pedestrian-oriented streets and large open-space set-asides, as well as sweeping views of the bay.

    The company withdrew its application before it went to the city Planning Commission. In response, the City Council voted to make an offer for the land for an undisclosed amount of money.....
    This thread has it all: Sam's Rule from the get-go, Eminent Domain!!!, Open Spaces, Pedestrian Oriented Streets (And who are we to judge someone for loving differently) City Planners, New Urbanism and city council people who don't read applications but still have strong opinions.

    Giffbaby You have to be loving this!

    I Huckabees!
    Last edited by el Guapo; 06 May 2006 at 3:52 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    There is even a "Friends of Hercules" group and their own website:
    http://www.friendsofhercules.org/

    Simple history of the proposal -
    Wal-Mart scales down plans for store
    HERCULES: Council rejected its first proposal in February, but company counters with 99,000-square-foot facility
    By Tom Lochner, Contra Costa Times

    Wal-Mart applied to build a 142,000-square-foot store. In early February, the company withdrew the application after a city staff report recommended the Planning Commission deny approval. The report found Wal-Mart's plan inconsistent with a 2003 development agreement that called for a neighborhood shopping center with the largest store limited to 64,000 square feet. Wal-Mart says its plan is consistent with the 2003 agreement by virtue of a provision that calls for up to 167,700 square feet of retail space for Bayside Marketplace. Now, The new plan calls for a 99,000-square-foot store with a full-service grocery.
    Oh, gee guess some wanted mixed retail not one dominant box.
    Oddball
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  3. #3
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    What amazes me about this thread is The Handsome perusing a left coast newspaper's web site. What's up with that?

  4. #4

    Eminent domain v. Wal-Mart in Bay Area

    God it seems like all we've been talking about is Wal-Mart recently. Sorry to contribute more, but This Hercules California (north of Berkley and San Francisco) story is pretty interesting.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...5/HERCULES.TMP

    My opinion is this: If Wal-Mart is (somehow) able to pull off a redesign that follows smart growth principals (maybe aprstments above the stores - I always push this one) and allows the precious view to be preserved as some form of public space, they should be able to have a store there. If there new proposal is simply a strip mall with a couple of dining areas than it shouldn't be able to be built.

    Your Thoughts?

    p.s. It's a helluva thing to wanna use eminent domain in this case isn't it? Can't they just deny Wal-Mart the building permits until the plans conform to smart growth principals?

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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Cyburbian PlanBoston's avatar
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    The real question here is “when is the use of eminent domain for economic development appropriate?”

    Compare this case to Kelo v New London. It seems in both cases that the municipalities want to take land to promote a “higher and better” use (more tax revenue). The primary difference is who the land is being taken from. In New London, the land is being taken from private homeowners; whereas in Hercules, the proposed taking is from Wal- Mart.

    Personally, I am all in favor of using any means necessary to prevent big box retail and promote mixed use development. Even without firsthand knowledge of the Hercules site, I’m certain that the community as a whole would be much better served by an urban mixed use project than another big box store. In some cases, I am even in favor of using eminent domain to redevelop outdated strip malls (creating higher density mixed use developments). The New London case seems to open the door for this to happen.

    In spite of my smart growth, anti-sprawl views, I’m having a hard time justifying why eminent domain would be acceptable in Hercules and not acceptable in New London (from a legal standpoint). I love the idea of “sticking it to Wal-Mart,” but don’t they have the same property rights and legal protection as private homeowners?

    Any thoughts / discussion from the Throbbing Brain are welcome.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    DEVILS ADVOCATE WARNING


    Is a walmart not a mixed use type development (ok they lack housing) but they offer
    retial, groceries, personal services (banking/hair dressers/optometrists) car repair, restaurant? So in reality how do they differ little from a mall or other multi tenant building, just they own it all.

    Remember when I pose this question, I probably hate the big W more than the rest of you.

    I find this story interesting and hopeful.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- Well, a mall is hardly "mixed use." "Mixed Use" combines retail space with residential and office (and possibly light industrial.)

    The difference between a mall with locally owned tenants and wal mart (or any other centrally-owned big box, putting aside all of the problems specifically pertaining to wal mart for a moment) would have to do primarily with how much of the retail dollar stays in the community.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
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    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    AIB donk

    Kinda OT:
    I am reminded of the title of some movie which I don't think I have ever seen: "needful things". My understanding is that it is a horror movie about evil, the devil or some such. Walmart is hated but still succeeds because, like prostitution, it fills a need and never mind how many people are revolted and up on their high horse talking bad about it.




    So what's "wrong" with meeting the needs of people? Why do we act like that is such a terrible thing? I know that pursuing one's desires without regard to consequences can be truly evil but if Walmart is so "evil" what does that say about the rest of society? Doesn't it imply that we are easily "bought" because society fails to meet human needs in many important ways?


    Back on topic.

  10. #10
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Wouldn't it be something if Wally actually built a real mixed-use development? When you think about it, aside from doors and loading bays, Wal-Mart might as well be underground. Why not use the "big box" and parking area footprints as the basement for other types of business and housing that make use of the view?

    Too crazy?
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by PlanBoston
    The real question here is “when is the use of eminent domain for economic development appropriate?”

    Compare this case to Kelo v New London. It seems in both cases that the municipalities want to take land to promote a “higher and better” use (more tax revenue). The primary difference is who the land is being taken from. In New London, the land is being taken from private homeowners; whereas in Hercules, the proposed taking is from Wal- Mart.

    Personally, I am all in favor of using any means necessary to prevent big box retail and promote mixed use development. Even without firsthand knowledge of the Hercules site, I’m certain that the community as a whole would be much better served by an urban mixed use project than another big box store. In some cases, I am even in favor of using eminent domain to redevelop outdated strip malls (creating higher density mixed use developments). The New London case seems to open the door for this to happen.

    In spite of my smart growth, anti-sprawl views, I’m having a hard time justifying why eminent domain would be acceptable in Hercules and not acceptable in New London (from a legal standpoint). I love the idea of “sticking it to Wal-Mart,” but don’t they have the same property rights and legal protection as private homeowners?

    Any thoughts / discussion from the Throbbing Brain are welcome.
    This is very different than the Kelo v New London case. The main premise for Kelo was land assembly, where this is looking at what appears, based on the article, as one parcel with one owner. New London followed CT law that allows the use of eminent domain for economic development. The city also applied with the state to blight the land (don't remember the exact term used CT state law, but I believe it was different), which the state denied and blight ws not a discussion point in the case. Kelo also involved obtaining public access to the waterfront, something that had been missing from the Fort Turnbull area since the military base there was established. Also, much of the land "taken" was industrial with a very high vacancy rate. The majority of the property owners didn't fight New London and the land was purchased before eminent domain was used.

    I do think this sounds like a total misuse of eminant domain. Sounds like the city will be able to stop the plan as proposed, but I do not see a justifiable reason to take the property. It would be one thing if it were multiple smaller parcels or something other than undeveloped ground (is it?), but Wal mart has property rights as well.

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    ^-- Well, a mall is hardly "mixed use." "Mixed Use" combines retail space with residential and office (and possibly light industrial.)

    The difference between a mall with locally owned tenants and wal mart (or any other centrally-owned big box, putting aside all of the problems specifically pertaining to wal mart for a moment) would have to do primarily with how much of the retail dollar stays in the community.
    I was just throwing it out as a rhetorical question. However, I don't really see a difference between a wally and a huge mall that houses only chains that sell the same crap that wallly does.

    Mixed use and lifestyle centres have so many connotations that making sure we are all on teh same pages is important.


    I really like Mastiff's idea of building them underground.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  13. #13
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    I really like Mastiff's idea of building them underground.

    The reason it just became so clear is a project we're (trying) working on. We need to get about 3.5 million (fat chance) from various state and federal programs (cut by you know who) for a new community center. Well, the state housing folks (not as bad as the rest) said they would fund senior housing... on top of the center.

    Well, I can now cut the 3.5 quite a bit since I have the "roof" paid for...


    Wal-Mart would have to do more engineering, especially in the HVAC and structural areas, because they no longer have the "generic" box. But, you'd think with land costs in California it would more than make up for the costs, and the good will and press would be unbelievable.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus
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    UPDATE

    From the AP Wire:
    Council Fights Wal-Mart on Eminent Domain

    Highlight:

    The five-person Hercules City Council voted unanimously to evoke eminent domain after opponents said they worried that Wal-Mart would drive local retailers out of business, tie up traffic and wreck the small-town flavor of this city of 24,000.
    Oddball
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    Wal-Mart will just build a store in the nearby jurisdiction, who will probably fall all over themselves to have them. So the small stores in Hercules will still die off. Depending on where the store gets built outside of the city limits, they may still end up with the traffic problems. The other jurisdiction will get all the tax revenue from the majority of the area's retail while Hercules will find their tax coffers go empty since the current stores in town aren't likely to survive.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle
    Wal-Mart will just build a store in the nearby jurisdiction, who will probably fall all over themselves to have them. So the small stores in Hercules will still die off. Depending on where the store gets built outside of the city limits, they may still end up with the traffic problems. The other jurisdiction will get all the tax revenue from the majority of the area's retail while Hercules will find their tax coffers go empty since the current stores in town aren't likely to survive.
    Well...perhaps. There is not that much vacant prime retail land in this stretch of the East Bay. Nearby cities are also much more "built out" or are subject to even more of the "progressive" union-based opposition to Wally World. Not saying they won't find another site, but AlMart is not that loved in the inner Bay Area in general.

    Hercules was basically a munitions plant with some 70s subdivisions and strip malls thrown in that decided to go New Urbanist. They've built a lot of fairly pricey neo-Victorian housing, so opposition to Wally is certainly class based. But, still, why is sticking to the concepts behind your master plan so evil?

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    wal-mart in the bay area

    that makes about as much sense as putting neiman marcus and the waldorf astoria in an inner city.

  18. #18
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    Moderator note:
    Threads merged
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

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