Business & Economy

LA to take fading LAX community by eminent domain

Over 20 years, the city of Los Angeles bought and razed Manchester Square homes, creating a patchwork of empty lots.
Over 20 years, the city of Los Angeles bought and razed Manchester Square homes, creating a patchwork of empty lots.
Josie Huang/KPCC

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to use eminent domain to acquire the remaining residential properties in a neighborhood near the Los Angeles International Airport.

The city affirmed a vote in June by the Board of Airport Commissioners to start the government process of taking private property in the Manchester Square area through forced purchase, clearing the path for airport expansion projects. 

The area will be the future home of a rental car center, additional airport parking and a public transportation hub.

The city has been offering voluntary buyouts to Manchester Square property owners for the last two decades but decided to pursue eminent domain after it bought a package of 35 properties in December 2016.  

Ninety-one-year-old property owner Mike Parris was the lone resident to speak out before council members on Monday. 

He's lived in the neighborhood for 60 years, and watched his middle-class neighbors move away, including lawyers and businesspeople. He described the painful experience of watching the area die, as the city bought their properties, one by one. 

"What did they do to discourage the people still there?" Parris said. "They tear the houses down."

Today, Manchester Square consists of a patchwork of empty lots and scattered apartment buildings and detached homes. 

The cost of the acquiring the properties has been set at more than $108.2 million and will be funded through airport revenues.