By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
"Glendale demonstrates the point," Mlikotin says. "Someone who is not politically connected or does not have wealth could not do this. It's only because of who this developer is." Caruso spokesman Middlebrook denies that Caruso's getting special treatment, and Lanzafame insists to the Weekly that eminent domain is not yet being used. But by phone, Mayor Najarian says if Patel and David can't reach a price with Caruso or the city, a "jury of 12 people would decide what fair value is."
To Mlikotin, Glendale "is putting a gun to the private property owner's head and saying, 'Sell your property to this developer.' "
Most "private property owners have a price" that few developers want to pay, he says. So "eminent domain allows [developers to] often acquire property on the cheap."
Henry Gonzalez, former mayor of Southgate and now a council member, handled redevelopment projects after industries vacated longtime factories in Southgate. Gonzalez says Glendale's actions allow Caruso to lowball the Patels and David: "Why does [Caruso] have to jack his price up when he knows the city is going to come and condemn the thing?"
William Fulton, the mayor of Ventura, says Najarian might not yet have enough City Council votes to take the two businesses. Fulton says that when Najaria publicly cites the city's eminent domain powers, he may be "thinking he can go back into executive session and get the votes."
Drayman, who is leery of using eminent domain, says the Golden Key Motel and the other building are not "blighted," and he supports the rights of small businesses. Yet he backs Americana's expansion, and tells the Weekly, "I see how important [the Americana] is to other businesses that are thinking of investing in Glendale."
Caruso's Middlebrook says Patel knew a decade ago that he was buying a business inside a redevelopment zone. By that time, the city had already used eminent domain to push out small Glendale property owners and make way for other private owners.
Some never recovered.
His son Shahan says the carpet business had to move twice. It has struggled ever since, with the family forced to lay off employees. "It's unfair to blame everything on" the city, Karprielian says. "It's probably 50 percent the move and 50 percent the bad economy."
But he warns that Caruso and Glendale's pols will do whatever it takes to grab the finger of land Caruso desires. "If Caruso's got his eye [on it], the city will do backflips to get it."
Before he gets off the phone, Kaprielian asks: "Have you been to the Americana? It's really nice, but people should know that people paid a price for it to be there."
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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