charles h 
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Re: “Profiting from Eminent Domain

Dear Ms. Bair,

I represent the Hahn family and I wanted to correct you on some of the mistakes that you have written publicly about my family. Let's go back in time to 1988 when my father Alex Hahn operated the Acorn shopping center. He purchased the center for 1.9 million and at that time there was a 60% vacancy rate. My father Alex Hahn managed to fill the Acorn Shopping Center by 1990 to 100% no vacancy with national brand tenants such as KFC and Pizza Hut. Five years later we sold the Acorn Center back to the City of Oakland. A certified appraiser, valued the property at 4.3 million dollars, the City of Oakland offered 2.9 million dollars. There was not much profit in this deal as your article suggested.

Let's goto the Sears eminent domain case of 2004. I need to remind you that the City of Oakland used eminent domain not necessarily for public use, but to retain the Sears Tire Center to make way for Forest City, the auto center is not even been built yet. Essentially, the forthcoming Tire Center is still a parking lot that Sears holds the entitlements to. My father and uncle were exercising their rights in defending themselves under constitutional law as an investor in Oakland, CA which bears the same legitimacy and rights as any community activist, artist, homeowner, a corporation or a restaurateur whose business is thriving in Uptown. Alex Hahn purchased the two parcels in hoping to build a mixed-use complex. Therefore, half of our property was given to Sears at fair market value dictated by the City but as a result of this eminent domain case we lost our ability to develop the site and our ability to sell at a higher price to a private developer or company that would have wanted to purchase the site. My family settled with the City of Oakland 2 years later, accumulating legal expenses in the amount of $100k and paying the Tenant the remainder of their lease for $60k .I do remind you, prior to the settlement there was a real estate boom in Oakland, because of the proactive market rate urban infill development plans from the past Honorable Mayor Jerry Brown. If we retained the property without the first eminent domain proceedings the Hahns could have sold it for a much higher value than the settlement amount with the City. Since you also mentioned the Kwikway, I wanted to also the point out the fact that even Chip Johnson of the SF Chronicle stated that the Hahns had a case against the Oakland Planning Commission which could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but did not pursue, the Hahn Family chose to work with the community.

My uncle and father invested in Oakland to provide a better life for their children and to fulfill their dreams in real estate investing in our city, because of the 14hour late night shifts they used to pull at the grocery store in some of the worst areas of Richmond and Oakland. Our City of Oakland with the budget deficits they are facing, investments in Oakland parcels and building projects should be encouraged and the success stories of investors in Oakland should be embraced rather than scolded. We don’t want the biggest bulk of the City of Oakland’s income; in which is real estate transfer taxes to be floating off to other cities. Investors do invest in Oakland to make a return on investment, if they didn’t than why would one invest so much capital in the first place? On the notion of powers of eminent domain, in which my family is a victim of double jeopardy, I find it frightening to some extent that because of the Supreme Court ruling it gives the government more power to remove you from your own home or investment property in the name of economic development, thus another tool for the government to use and we inadvertently agree to, which may be precedence for the removal of more civil liberties we enjoy from the Constitution of the United States of America. I find it even more troubling that a progressive news median such as the East Bay Express would support eminent domain for economic development rather than supporting individual property owner’s rights? I do remind you that West Oakland is huge; there are plenty of locations that have better egress and ingress routes than my uncle’s property, but why is it his parcel being targeted? A larger corporation with more assets and purchasing power than the Hahns could ever dream of is actually pushing this as Forest City with the Uptown project was as well. So the big bad corporations still win in the end? It is peculiar that this centrist moderate is speaking as if he was a progressive and vice versa by the words you wrote in the article.

In this article you portray the Hahns in a somewhat negative light but you did not see my older brother Alan in action making negotiations behind the scenes while fighting cancer and even appearing in court after chemotherapy. He passed away at the age of 36 in 2008 leaving behind a wife and young daughter. There is a human face to the Hahn Family that you did not know about and I wanted to share with you. My uncle Sunny, who is the primary subject of this article, used to work late nights in Richmond, CA. He would work tirelessly trying to support his 2 children at a grocery store in a high crime area. He would often be insulted by a small minority of that community that would make fun of his slanted eyes, his broken English and some would cruelly say “Gooks, go back to Korea.” All he could do was take this abuse, because if he said something wrong he knew that he might never see his family again. One evening he was working with my father Alex. Two men entered the store with 12 gauge shotguns and had them face down on the linoleum floor. My uncle Sunny actually put two ads in the East Bay Express when he used to run a restaurant back in 2001.

My father Alex once told me how helpless he felt when he saw my brother Alan and my other uncle get robbed at the Giantburgers in broad daylight in 1996. He was waiting in the car for them and as they exited the store, two young men pointed weapons at them and took their belongings. My father dialed 911 while fearing the worse possible case scenario enfold in front of his eyes.

My best friend I have campaigned with on 2 Mayoral Races and 3 City Council Races was recently shot twice while walking his dog in North Oakland. The first bullet shattered his femur bone in his leg and the young assailant was so emboldened that he walked up to my friend while he was in shock lying on the pavement, fired another round execution style to his forehead. I will stop there and only focus on the positive things we have done together in this last Mayor’s race while campaigning and doing cleanups in the most dangerous neighborhoods of East Oakland such as 82nd & MacArthur, Sobrante Park and the 69 Village. I was honored to do a cleanup on Grand Ave with True Vine Baptist church. If you could have only seen the hugs and accolades we received from our fellow neighbors that want job growth and believe in this City as we do.

Next time all we ask is if you do your due diligence as a journalist and gather the facts accurately. You did not attempt to call my father Alex Hahn and you mentioned his name in this article without even getting his side of the story. Your colleagues at the Express did a better job and even put him on the front page, but did not cover the joy expressed by citizens and city leaders at City Hall when Gene Hazzard, Alex Hahn and Mr. Yu were pictured together as an unified Oakland, putting an end to the controversial Koreatown Northgate banners. Another respectable newspaper the Oakland Post did write about it and put the picture of the newfound friends on the front page.

The Hahn Family supports all investments in Oakland both big and small. We support our new Mayor and the City Council during this budget crisis. The Hahn Family will do our best in providing job growth for our beloved Oakland. This City has truly some of the most remarkable people from all walks of life in some of the most beautiful neighborhoods that I still love walking and reminisce about the good times on the campaign trail when the sun sets over them.

Respectfully Yours,

Charles S. Hahn

Posted by charles h on 01/05/2011 at 2:30 AM

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