In the ongoing battle over eminent domain, one could not have chosen a more sympathetic protagonist than the Community Youth Athletic Center (CYAC) in National City, California. The center uses sports to motivate at-risk children and teens in the community to improve themselves through education and gang interdiction. Unfortunately for CYAC and approximately 700 other property owners, the city wants to seize their property through the declaration of blight, not to build a road or a government building but a luxury condo, in CYAC’s case. The Institute for Justice has taken the case, which is reminiscent of the infamous Kelo case, in order to point out the abuses inherent in seizing private property from one owner to another private entity, a process that used to be known by another name … theft.
National City is not a large town; it has a population of less than 60,000 and comprises all of 9.2 square miles. The city has effectively declared two-thirds of its jurisdiction as blighted in what might be the most audacious of land grabs in recent memory. Shining a light on this grab will be very interesting, especially if IJ and local media start following the money and see if and where it leads.