The Los Angeles City Council approved the acquisition of 37 parcels of land in Manchester Square on Thursday through the use of eminent domain as part of a massive traffic improvement project coming to Los Angeles International Airport.
The 13-0 vote approved an ordinance stating the purchase is in the public interest, although it did not set any value or price for the land. Eminent domain allows governments to purchase private land at a fair market price for public use.
The land is to be used as part of the Consolidated Rent-A-Car Center, a project that will consolidate more than 20 car rental offices in one location as part of LAX's $5.5 billion Landside Access Modernization Program which aims to reduce auto traffic at the airport.
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The ConRAC is expected to help relieve traffic congestion around LAX along with the proposed 2.25-mile Automated People Mover, which Los Angeles World Airports says will eliminate the need for rental car courtesy vehicles to enter the Central Terminal Area and reduce the number of autos driving into the CTA by 3,200 per day.
"This is an important step for the airport to get us to the modernization that we've been seeking," Councilman Mike Bonin said before the vote.
The airport has been buying up property in Manchester Square in South Los Angeles for decades, turning the once vibrant community into a ghost town, and as of June had already spent nearly $400 million to buy more than 500 properties in the area through voluntary sales, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times also reported that 30 of the final 37 homeowners in the area have agreed to sell.
Only one owner of the 37 homes spoke at the meeting before the council's vote to voice opposition to the eminent domain plan. Michael Parris said his family has lived in the home for 60 years and that his wife and father died there.
"Now they want to kick us out. This is where all my memories and all my dreams are," he said.