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The National City City Council voted unanimously last night to extend the city’s eminent domain authority until 2017. The authority was set to expire this summer.

The vote followed several contentious meetings in which community members pleaded with the council to find alternate means to redevelopment that didn’t include eminent domain. Last night some warned the city would not be able to afford legal action resulting from the decision.

“Eminent domain will put a strain on your budget. Use it on something other than litigation,” said community member Robert Leif, who in previous meetings called the action “eminent theft.”

Lawyers representing the popular Community Youth Athletic Center, a nonprofit boxing gym for at-risk youth that sits in a redevelopment zone, said the city’s blight designation was unconstitutional and they intend to fight it.

Councilman Fideles Ungab said that though eminent domain had been abused in the past, he won’t let it happen while he is still in office. Mayor Ron Morrison said just because they had the tool didn’t mean they wouldn’t try to negotiate with property owners before using it.

“Eminent domain is a necessary evil,” he said.

NINA PETERSEN-PERLMAN

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