By Karen Brainard
Although the county Board of Supervisors unanimously gave approval Aug. 7 to initiate eminent domain proceedings on two San Vicente Road parcels, county staff said it still hopes to reach agreements with the property owners.
“We would much prefer to resolve it amicably,” said Terry Rayback, program manager of the county Department of Public Works’ Land Use Environmental Group and Capital Improvement Project Development.
The county said the acquisitions, which represent strips of property, are needed for the San Vicente Road Improvement Project for such uses as road, slope/drainage and temporary construction easements. The improvements call for widening and realigning the road to make it safer.
The two property owners are Walt Ohm at 2344 San Vicente Road and Hermine Simon, whose has property on San Vicente Road across from the intersection with Wildcat Canyon, according to the county.
Ohm spoke to the supervisors at their Aug. 7 meeting, saying, “I think the San Vicente Road improvement project is long overdue. Unfortunately the remedies county staff has proposed for the project do not address the greatest public good or the least private injury.”
Focusing on noise levels, Ohm said his property is located in “an acoustical microclimate some 300 feet south of Gem Lane in a small valley somewhat lower than the surrounding areas which funnels the sound right into our house.” If the road is elevated, he said, it will make his noise problem more severe.
He also addressed possible increased speed if the road is straighter.
“I don’t see how this plan will improve traffic safety,” said Ohm. “We are the ones who will bear the brunt of the construction, the noise, the loss of property value, just as we have been the people who responded to the crashes in the middle of the night over the last 30 or 40 years. Our opinions don’t seem to count.”
After Rayback said county staff has worked closely with the community to address concerns, Supervisor Dianne Jacob suggested there was a breakdown in communications and asked county staff to meet with Ohm.
“This is a very needed project,” she said, adding that the county needs to move forward with it.
Rayback and other staff members met with Ohm after the supervisors’ vote. Afterward, Ohm said another meeting with the county will be scheduled at his property to address the issues and remedy some of his concerns relating to his contribution to the project.
The county said it will pay a total of $18,800 for the two unsigned parcels, noting it is the appraised value. Property owners of 29 other parcels along San Vicente Road have agreed to sell their interests to the county for the project with all contracts less than $150,000 each.
Rayback said all permits are in place and only the two unsigned properties are standing in the way of moving forward. Construction had been estimated to start this fall, but the county now hopes to award a construction contract in early 2014. The project is estimated to cost $40 million.