Thursday, November 15, 2007


We made the front page of the Mercury News. The whole story is here.

Later edit to add:

They're now making me register to see the article. Bleh.

Note: the "threat of condemnation" concern was mine - I asked them about it at the board meeting to see what they would say - they've been telling my father they aren't considering eminent domain at this time... but the only words they could find in the meeting to explain "threat of condemnation" were "friendly eminent domain".

Maybe it's me, but a threat doesn't sound very friendly.

Excerpts of the article follow.

Owners fight Saratoga Cemetery District effort to buy them out

Just under a month ago, Nikki Teeter answered a knock at the door to find Drew Reid, a real estate agent who told her he represented the Saratoga Cemetery District - which wanted to buy her home.

Reid said the district intended to expand the Madronia Cemetery, which surrounds the Saratoga house on three sides. Despite Teeter's protestations that her family's home of 29 years wasn't for sale, Reid persisted in trying to set up meetings - including one with an appraiser.

"I was astounded," Teeter said. "They want to take my house for a larger driveway."

Since that unsettling encounter, the Teeters and a group of neighbors have grown increasingly worried about the little-known cemetery district, whose five directors are appointed by the county board of supervisors but apparently aren't subject to county oversight. Some neighbors are convinced the district is planning to seize the Teeters' home and another nearby through eminent domain, the legal process by which a government agency can seize property from unwilling buyers for the "public good."

Phil Boyce, a well-connected local banker and investor who chairs the cemetery district, says any talk of eminent domain is wildly premature. But he refuses to rule it out.


Residents grew especially concerned after an aide to Supervisor Liz Kniss, whose district includes Saratoga, helped obtain board minutes that show district officials have been quietly making plans to buy the two homes near the cemetery for more than a year - without informing the homeowners until last month.

Neighbors also are alarmed that, according to previous minutes, the board has discussed whether the two homeowners would get a tax break if they sold to the district under "threat of condemnation." And they note that prominent attorney Norm Matteoni, the district's legal adviser on land matters, was at the center of one of San Jose's biggest eminent domain battles in recent years; he represented property owners at the Tropicana Shopping Center who successfully fought the city's efforts to seize their property.


Boyce told the Mercury News he had personally tried to visit both homeowners three times before Reid's visit, but they were never home and he didn't want to leave a business card.

Boyce said he understands why homeowners wouldn't want to sell at a time not of their choosing. "But there are needs for the greater good," he said. "We wanted to sit down in person, without any threats or cajoling, and hopefully we'll come to a meeting of the minds."

If the homeowners continue to refuse? "I don't know what we'll do from that point on," Boyce said.

Kniss said she has county lawyers and the county clerk doing research to see what authority the district has to invoke eminent domain, should it come to that.

"It seems a stretch to imagine a cemetery district would need additional land, unless they have run out of burial plots," she said.

1 comment:

M-D November said...

"The greater good"? Are you KIDDING me with this guy?

Also, I've never heard of a real estate agent who wouldn't leave their card following multiple visits. NEVER. And I've been surrounded by real estate agents for almost my entire life.