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Cleaning the desk, clearing the cache

July 16, 2005

STEVE SMITH

Every so often, issues build up, and it takes a column to get a few

topics out of the way. So, consider this multi-topic edition a way to

clean up my desk.

The first order of business is to welcome Jason and Jennifer

Dupuis to Newport-Mesa. The Dupuises have moved here from Tustin, and

after they are finished painting their baseboards and unpacking

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boxes, they'll be hitting the towns.

*

At least one politician has wasted no time in suggesting a local

advantage to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that cities may

exercise the power of eminent domain in a far greater range than ever

before.

To suggest, as Costa Mesa City Councilman Eric Bever has, that

eminent domain may be a viable solution to the folly that is Triangle

Square is one of the most reckless attempts at abuse of power that

has been witnessed in a long time.

Eminent domain is to be used in extreme, rare and otherwise

exceptional instances where a public works project is so urgently

needed to further the common good that it is necessary to displace

the private property that stands in its way. In the 20 years I have

lived in Costa Mesa, I can recall next to no instances where eminent

domain has been exercised; one was to widen Victoria Street.

Eminent domain is not to be used to hasten the demise of a poorly

run business. Triangle Square is, in my opinion, a poorly run

business. It so happens that the city has a number of poorly run

businesses. The difference is that Triangle Square occupies some

prime real estate, and its failure to make a proper return on the

investment is that much larger because of its location.

The blame for Triangle Square's troubles does not lie solely with

the landlord. It was a host of city officials, from the Planning

Commission to the City Council, who many years ago approved this

project. And apparently, they did so without securing a long-term

marketing plan that would ensure that the owner or owners would

dedicate the necessary resources to maintaining the proper occupancy.

For example: If a bank loans money to a new business, one of the

requirements is that the business develop a marketing plan to help it

flourish. Without marketing, no business can survive.

So either the city of Costa Mesa did not require an ongoing

marketing program from the owner of Triangle Square or the one it

approved is inadequate. Either way, the city cannot run from its

share of the responsibility for this debacle.

Finally, it should be noted that there is one huge advantage that

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