Former Republican Steve Gronke, now a candidate for County Supervisor in the 5th District, has changed a lot more than his party registration lately. The Vista City Councilman sees redevelopment dollars as an open checkbook for municipal real estate speculation , and anyone who won’t sell to him faces the threat of government-enforced eminent domain. Despite Vista’s budget woes, Gronke is leading the charge to spend millions buying up real estate for his city’s redevelopment authority.
What do I mean? Soon after switching party affiliation, Gronke supported the city’s attempt to seize a local motel and turn it over to a car dealership using eminent domain. Despite impassioned pleas from the owner to protect his property rights and the homes of three people who live in apartments on the motel site, Gronke told the North County Times, “As a council we said we wouldn’t displace residents from their homes. But since this is a commercial establishment, then that policy doesn’t hold.”
What gives the government the right to kick people out of their homes, seize a business and give it someone they like better? Gronke’s redevelopment plans threaten the homes and businesses of everyone who lives in Vista.
City bureaucrats got their marching orders from Gronke and scolded a redevelopment committee member who had the audacity to warn property owners they may be in jeopardy of the government taking their land and businesses. In March of this year, the North County Times reported that redevelopment committee member Jerome Hymes was being chastised for distributing a letter to downtown merchants and homeowners that warned their property may be in danger of being seized by the city.
Gronke and his attitude of, “Government Knows Best” is a threat to everyone who lives in his city. Now he wants to bring that approach to San Diego County government. He’s already said he’s willing to raise taxes, and increase pension benefits for public labor unions that are supporting his candidacy. And now he’s become a champion of eminent domain and wants to wield it countywide as his license to steal.