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Athletic Center Defends Itself Against National City’s Eminent Domain Powers

A local nonprofit athletic club will fight another round against National City. The Community Youth Athletic Center, a boxing club that offers coaching, tutoring and mentoring to area youth, initially stepped up to protect its business earlier this year from a proposed extension of eminent domain authority.

National City approved the controversial redevelopment plan update in July despite concerns from the CYAC and local chamber of commerce. With the approval, the city retained the legal right to seize property within the eminent domain authority footprint consisting of land one block to the east and west of National City Boulevard, one block north and south of Civic Center Drive from National City Boulevard to Interstate 5, one block north and south of Eighth Street from I-5 to B Street, everything west of I-5 that is not in the port tidelands and the entire southwest block of Highland Avenue and Plaza Boulevard.

CYAC and hundreds of other businesses are located in the blighted areas. The gym still fears their property may be taken away through the use of eminent domain.

But now the CYAC has filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s “re-declaration of blight against almost 700 properties.”

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Under state law, opposition has until Oct. 15 to challenge the ordinance that extends eminent domain powers and declares a significant portion of the city as blighted.

“The CYAC filed suit because the July blight ordinance violated the U.S. and California Constitutions and literally dozens of California redevelopment laws,” said Jeff Rowes, an attorney with the Institute for Justice. “National City withheld key information from the public prior to passing the ordinance, and then passed the ordinance for the unconstitutional purpose of private economic development.”

CYAC is represented by the Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Va.-based law firm, and Jim Garrett and Rich Segal of the San Diego office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Calls to National City’s City Attorney George H. Eiser III were not returned by deadline.

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Online Property Management Tools:

A local entrepreneur recently launched SmartProperty, Web software that helps real estate developers, property managers, owners and homeowner’s associations track and manage property assets, maintenance schedules, and reserve and operating budgets of properties.

Damian Esparza, founder of Pacific Beach-based SmartProperty Corp., said he got the idea to develop the program after working for his family’s real estate budget consulting business.

“I saw the lack of accountability as well as reporting,” said Esparza.

He said owners and managers sometimes had difficulty with efficiently producing information on vendors, repair descriptions and costs associated with maintenance and budgets.

“So we have created an integrated solution that allows them to automate a lot of this process, capture it online and automatically generate reports or searches,” he said.

SmartProperty launched in late July and already 550 properties are managed with the Web program.

Esparza said SmartProperty sets itself apart from other property management software or programming because it offers budget forecasting.

“It is all about the bottom line and our system allows property owners to better understand if they are profitable or not,” he said.

He said the platform could reduce operating expenses, better manage and maintain assets, lower potential litigation risks, ensure compliance with state regulatory requirements and preserve and optimize property values.

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Shea Buyers Highly Satisfied:

Shea Homes ranked highest in customer satisfaction with new-home builders in San Diego, according to a J.D. Power and Associates New-Home Builder Customer Satisfaction Study. The study released Sept. 12 includes satisfaction ratings of builders in 34 markets, including San Diego.

Paula Sonkin, vice president of the real estate and construction industries practice at J.D. Power and Associates, said the downturn in the housing market during the past year has presented numerous challenges to home builders.

“As a result, the new-home selling environment has changed dramatically, and builders must now increase their focus on providing buyers with a satisfying purchase experience, which is a shift from the order-taking mode that was common in the industry until recently,” she said.

The survey evaluated ratings of the builder’s design center; builder’s sales staff, construction manager, customer service; home readiness, location, price and value; recreational facilities; and workmanship.

“A reputation for customer satisfaction becomes more important than ever in today’s home-buying environment, when consumers have more choices than ever when they go to purchase a new home,” said Paul Barnes, president of Shea Homes in San Diego. “The J.D. Power and Associates announcement is a testament to the values held by Shea Homes during all market conditions. The results of the 2007 study are a tribute to the dedicated men and women who are helping new homebuyers realize their dreams.”

Standard Pacific Homes of Irvine ranked second and Lennar Homes of Miami ranked third in the New-Home Builder Customer Satisfaction Study. In addition, Centex Homes of Dallas, William Lyon Homes of Newport Beach, KB Home of Los Angeles, Pardee Homes of Los Angeles and D.R. Horton of Fort Worth, Texas, made the top eight.

Centex Homes topped the list for the new-home quality study in San Diego, which looks at a home’s appliances, bathroom, doors, drywall, electrical systems, exterior, flooring, interior paint, kitchen, windows and other areas.

Standard Pacific Homes ranked No. 1 in J.D. Power and Associates New-Home Design Study in San Diego. The study looked at bathrooms, doors, flooring, exterior architectural design, kitchen, layout, interior comfort and windows.


Send real estate news to Michelle Mowad at

mmowad@sdbj.com

. She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3109.

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