My opinion on SCOTUS’ Kelo decision has softened somewhat since my initial outrage, but it still strikes me as, on balance, a Bad Thing.

Once recent strain of argument I find pretty convincing is that Kelo will not, in fact, enable good urban planning (one of the purported reasons many liberals defend it). Andy alluded to this argument here. See also this Planetizen piece from Samuel Staley:

To illustrate Kelo‘s potential damage, recall that its precedent, Berman v. Parker, substantially relaxed constraints on takings of private property in 1954, unleashing a wave of urban renewal that cleared large swaths of America’s cities in the late 20th century. The results, even many planners now believe, were devastating for communities. Many areas cleared for urban renewal were never redeveloped, but affordable housing and many potentially vibrant neighborhoods were bulldozed. Not surprisingly, critics now refer to urban renewal as “slum removal” and cynics refer to this period as “negro removal”. The Court’s reasoning in Kelo grants cities and public officials even broader powers to clear neighborhoods and force families from homes and businesses than those current existing from Berman.

On his blog, City Comforts, David Sucher argues at some length that eminent design is not required for good urban planning — he prefers many small development projects to a few large, bloated ones — and that Dems are missing the a great political opportunity (I’d offer specific links, but there are too many).

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Kelo’s a fascinating issue — it cuts across our established political divisions and produces very strange bedfellows (for instance, Sucher finds himself agreeing with conservative John Tierney). Much to ponder.

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