Eminent domain was strong enough for good urban planning already.
As promised, I have been thinking further about the Kelo decision, and I have fallen pretty decidedly into the dissent camp. My ambivalence before fell into a few main categories:
- The government can already take property if it deems it necessary and hey, economic development does help a lot of people out.
- There’s a market distortion that takes place because of the fact that often it’s “all or nothing” for the developer.
- If a city planner wants to make her city more “green,” this decision could help — a private company could essentially be given this task and the city would allow them free reign over a certain chunk of land.
I will refute these below the fold but I want to put this up here: The ruling doesn’t prevent states or cities from passing laws against this sort of thing. Check out the Castle Coalition if you are not in agreement with the ruling and want to do something.Point by point:
- This doesn’t make it right. The aforementioned Castle Coalition already has a whole catalog of cases of eminent domain abuse, and this ruling obviously makes it much easier.
- Deal with it. Maybe it means group negotiations, but I don’t think this is a big enough hurdle for a developer that the government needs to step in and use its powers to deliver the property for fair market value.
- Most of the projects I was picturing would probably be allowed without this extension of the definition of “public use.”
To continue with the issue of urban planning, it had already been determined, as mentioned in the majority opinion, actually, that redevelopment of blighted areas fell under “public use,” even if the property was then sold or leased to other private interests. This extension of powers was unnecessary for that sort of purpose. Cities and government already had plenty of leeway in what they could do under eminent domain, and that this was an unnecessary further step.