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Thu, 25 Sep 2003
San Jose Judge Rejects Blight Suit

One Monday, San Jose Judge Leslie Nichols rejected the suit brought by Elaine Evans against the San Jose Redevelopment Agency (SJRA) in an attempt to stop it's Strong Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI) activities. I attended the first half of the arguments in Superior Court on Monday morning.  The heart of the case was whether Evans had properly sought to bring her concerns to the redevelopment board.  In the end the city prevailed on that point, but not before I heard a few interesting bits along the way, including:

  • 5 members of the council wrote the other 5 members, before the public hearing, indicating that they were going to support the SNI plan.
  • Evans was at the public hearing and heard her concerns being addressed to the council by others.
  • The city's own report on the concerns raised by the public included the very issues Evans wanted addressed, namely that the blight designation process was being abused.
  • The city paid an outside agency over $300,000 to "justify" designating the area blighted.
The real problem seems to be a requirement that "blight" be found before redevelopment dollars can arrive.  These dollars come with a terrible string attached: eminent domain.   Once an area has been designated blighted the city has the power to take the land.

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