Columbia University's Sleazy Eminent Domain Abuse

Jonathan V. Last has a great piece in The Weekly Standard detailing Columbia University's shady efforts to use eminent domain to expand its campus:

[Nick] Sprayregen is one of Columbia's neighbors. He owns Tuck-It-Away Storage, a thriving self-storage business, which has five buildings in Manhattanville. He leases out the ground floors of some of his properties, but recently has had a hard time getting businesses to fill the space. As his leasing agent explains, "We have had literally hundreds of offers, most from reputable, well-financed concerns willing to lease on a long-term basis.... At some point along the line, with all of these concerns, the knowledge that Columbia University can or will invoke eminent domain has caused them to seek out alternative space arrangements." Even when the university isn't taking direct action, its very presence drives away businesses.

Each of Sprayregen's buildings is kept in pristine condition. But Columbia wants his land. So the university has been working with the state of New York to have the neighborhood declared "blighted." If that designation is made, the government will be able to take Sprayregen's well-kept property and hand it over to the university, which owns the run-down buildings. And only then, when they have their neighborh's land, does Columbia promise to clean up its act and make Manhattanville nice again.

Back in September, Sprayregen wrote a very good op-ed for The Wall Street Journal describing some of the university's more despicable tactics:

Under New York state law, in order to condemn property the state first has to undertake a "neighborhood conditions study" and declare the area in question "blighted." Earlier this summer the state released its study, which concluded that Manhattanville is indeed "blighted." This gives the state the legal green light to condemn my four buildings and hand them over to the university.

The study's conclusion was unsurprising. Since the commencement of acquisitions in Manhattanville by Columbia, the school has made a solid effort to create the appearance of "blight." Once active buildings became vacant as Columbia either refused to renew leases, pressured small businesses to vacate, or made unreasonable demands that resulted in the businesses moving elsewhere. Columbia also let their holdings decay and left code violations unaddressed.

[...]

There is also a conflict of interest in the condemnation process. The firm the state hired to perform the "impartial" blight study--the planning, engineering and environmental consultant Allee King Rosen & Fleming, Inc. (AKRF)--had been retained by Columbia two years earlier to advocate for governmental approval of the university's expansion, including the possible use of eminent domain.

As Last notes in the Standard, Sprayregen faces the challenge of distinguishing Columbia's development plan from the "comprehensive" one that the Supreme Court endorsed in its notorious Kelo decision, which he may succeed in doing since "Columbia's redevelopment plan is, by their own admission, not comprehensive because 'it is impossible to know today all the new areas of learning and discovery that might arise decades into the future' when the redevelopment is completed."

Read Last's article here.

For more on eminent domain abuse, private property, and the courts, don't miss Tim Cavanaugh's interview with Kelo attorney Scott Bullock, Matt Welch on why The New York Times loves eminent domain, Ilya Somin on the limits of anti-Kelo legislation, and Daniel McGraw on eminent domain, publicly funded stadiums, and sports welfare.

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  • ||

    Sprayregen should sue Columbia to compel them to maintain their buildings. It's a straight-up nuisance complaint.

    -jcr

  • No Name Guy||

    Hey, they figured out this racket.

    1) Hmmmm.... We want some land.
    2) Can't get what we want through legit means.
    3) We CAN get it if we can condemn it.
    4) We can't condemn if the neighborhood is too nice.
    5) Let our holdings go to shit.
    6) Push out businesses by any means possible to ensure, to the maximum extent, other peoples property goes to shit.
    7) Have some guys, who, BTW, are in our pocket already, declare that the neighborhood has gone to shit (why, of course we didn't influence who got that study contract....right).
    8) Take what we want at bargain basement eminent domain prices.

    Private property exists in name only.

  • ||

    John C. Randolph | December 3, 2008, 6:11pm | #
    Sprayregen should sue Columbia to compel them to maintain their buildings. It's a straight-up nuisance complaint.

    -jcr

    He should. Question is, can he afford it? He could also presumably sue for reduced property values and lost business.

  • ||

    I guess once Giuliani broke the back of the mob in NYC, he created an opportunity for many other corrupt organizations to fill the void and provide reasons to locate a business anywhere but New York.

    -jcr

  • Naga Sadow||

    I'm gonna paraphrase one of Pro Lib's phrases to describe Columbia's actions.

    "All your land are belong to us now!"

    Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

  • ||

    It seems simple enough to have written the law to acknowledge and factor in properties owned by the entity seeking the land via eminent domain. Even now it could be amended to include some kind of language to address this.

  • cunnivore||

    Seeing as how the purpose of seizing land in blighted neighborhoods is to rescue it from the hands of negligent property owners...it seems bizarre that blight is invoked as a reason to transfer even more property into the hands of the current owners of the blighted area!

    I wonder what our resident urban planner(s) opine on this subject. It doesn't involve Obama, so their commentary may be useful.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Since Columbia wouldn't be paying property taxes on the new property, wouldn;t that just increase the tax burned on the remaining taxable properties? Seems like that would have a better chance of making the area MORE blighted rather than less blighted; to pay for the increased taxes some improvements/upkeep would have to be jettisoned.

  • Paul||

    distinguishing Columbia's development plan from the "comprehensive" one that the Supreme Court endorsed in its notorious Kelo decision, which he may succeed in doing



    I wouldn't bet on it. The SCOTUS left the whole "comprehensive" thing very vague. The Supreme court said that it wouldn't sit in any judgement of plans because only the local authorities know the particulars of a given municipal location.

    That has left property owners in an impossible situation. All that's required is a well-thought plan. The only people who are left to judge the 'well thought' plan are the municipal councils who are usually the ones aiding and abetting the E.D. taking in the first place. A true case of placing foxes in charge of the henhouses.

  • ||

    Not that I agree with Kelo, but citizens of the City that elect the municipal councils have a say in the 'well thought' plan.

  • ||

    seems bizarre that blight is invoked as a reason to transfer even more property into the hands of the current owners of the blighted area!

    Hmm.. I wonder if Sprayregen could fight fire with fire here, and sue to get Columbia's derelict buildings condemned and transferred to his ownership?

    -jcr

  • ||

    i attending the school of architecture in the early nineties, and a few of us saw the beginning of this and set out to do something about it. we set out to form a community coalition to combat it, to no avail.

    interesting story, we tried to enlist al sharpton in our coalition. after much calling and knocking, we finally set up a breakfast meeting with him. he and ten of his cronies, cam, ate up 400$ worth of breakfast, and wanted $5000 bucks to even put his name on the letter.

  • ||

    cunnivore, I'm an "urban planner," but in Virginia. Evidently, it is more difficult to use eminent domain in Virginia than in New York. Personally, I don't like the use of eminent domain, though on a few occasions we have done it in a "friendly" fashion. Those occasions were palatable.

  • ||

    Money talks. he who has the most of it wins! Just life in the good ole US with its money grubbing kangaroo court system!

    jess
    http://www.privacy.de.tc

  • ||

    I'm surprised educational facilities, particularly university buildings, aren't considered a public use.

    At a minimum, I'd think the state would have ruled the expansion of a university to be a public purpose. This blight designation business is absurd.

  • Robert Goodman||

    No wonder the school song is "Who Owns New York?".

  • ||

    joe, my guess is, because Columbia U. is private, any post condemnation transfer from the State to Columbia would be considered condemning the property of one private entity for another. That's why they have to jump through the "blight" hoops.

  • PC||

    Build up jackasses.

  • Hogan||

    Nice to see Columbia is still out makin friends in the neighborhood. I'm an urban planner as well, though in South Carolina where I'm not really familiar with any eminent domain case with the kind of questionable public use/public purpose distinctions as in Kelo and this case. I would say, in responding to Cab, that while citizens are certainly given some say in the planning process, the impulse among members of the Planning Machine is always to get that input in the most manageable way possible to try to minimize the extent to which plans are killed by the thousand paper cuts of citizen opposition. It takes an extremely devoted citizen with a great deal of time and resources (a Jane Jacobs vs. Robert Moses scenario) to really fight City Hall/the Planning Dept. A good reason, if you're skeptical of planners and plans, to try to limit their toolkit and restrain eminent domain use.

  • ||

    Personally, I don't like the use of eminent domain, though on a few occasions we have done it in a "friendly" fashion. Those occasions were palatable.

    Let me be the first to say, FUCK YOU. Apparatchiki like you are a big part of what makes tyranny possible.

    -jcr

  • Naga Sadow||

    I second,J.C. Randolf's comment.

  • ||

    Seems like there ought to be a good faith requirement; intentionally driving a neighborhood to seed to use eminent domain should disqualify the plan.

    Matter of equity.

  • Seward||

    Hogan,

    It seems to me that as with all levels of government that centralization will be the norm in those sorts of bodies. Government bodies rarely decentralize decision making, etc.

  • cuernimus||

    He owns Tuck-It-Away Storage



    He should turn part of his property into a LGBT club with an emphasis on the T; he'd have no shortage of attorneys after that.

  • ||

    Wow.

  • ||

    It must be difficult to be so out of step with the society you live in that you're driven to furious profanity by the observations 99% of the your neighbors would find utterly unremarkable.

    My sympathies, Mr. Randolph.

  • ||

    Now that I'm at work sucking on the public teet, I can devote more time to responding to jcr's rude comment.

    In my position, I have never advocated the use of eminent domain (ED) in an adversarial manner. I have, on occasion, used it when the property owner was in agreement (most of the time, those occasions have been to resolve property title issues). In fact, I have persuaded against the use of ED fairly effectively. You probably can't see it, but I'm not the enemy here.

    No offense, but you really don't know what you are talking about here. When I'm in situations like that, I find it best to either ask questions, or keep quiet. Of course, that's not advice...you're way too brilliant to need anything like that.


    ps: I know "apparatchiki" is Russian, not German, but I'm going to drink anyway.

  • Xeones||

    Yo, fuck the State Science InstituteColumbia University.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I'm surprised educational facilities, particularly university buildings, aren't considered a public use.

    Considering its selectiveness in admission, Columbia is the furthest thing from public use.

  • ||

    Pure evil. Eminent domain is pure evil.

  • Xeones||

    Hugh, i think the idea is that the research performed in those university buildings ultimately benefits the public, or something.

  • libertarian democrat||

    I'm still hoping for an acceptance to their medical school, even if it is low on my list. Of course, I can write a nice nasty rejection letter if I get in and go somewhere I prefer.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Xeon, they sold us that same line when they built a new stadium for the Denver Nuggets.

  • Xeones||

    Exactly, Hugh. Bread and circuses for some, research grants for others!

  • ||

    Eminent domain is perfectly reasonable in this case. The property owner refuses to sell and Columbia wants the land. Since the property owner can't get anyone to move in it's obvious that the property(ies) are blighted. Columbia is perfectly within it's right to acquire what it needs to improve the community.

    To those who say eminent domain is evil, what!?!? You must have your heads so far up your asses you cannot see that this is for the greater good. Obviously neighborhoods like this need oversight from a powerful institution (like Columbia or a governement agency) to see any improvement. Otherwise, greedy property owners will continue to steal all value away from the area.

    Give one example where eminent domain hasn't served the best interests of the community. I'm sure you will struggle to find one.

  • ||

    I guess once Giuliani broke the back of the mob in NYC, he created an opportunity for many other corrupt organizations to fill the void and provide reasons to locate a business anywhere but New York.

    Columbia's been doing this in upper manhattan for at least 20 years, long before Il Duce became mayor.

    It's only a bunch of poor blacks and hispanics, after all, it's not like they'll take the Jewish Theological Seminary, which is across the street from the storage business.

  • dhex||

    columbia is watching nyu have all the fun and feels left out.

  • Butch||

    Sprayregen should use the emminent domain to take away Columbia's buildings in the blighted area, with the justification that he will generate more tax revenue. Create the largest self storage facillity in the City.

  • ||

    I'm surprised educational facilities, particularly university buildings, aren't considered a public use.

    Public schools are public use. Private schools are ... well private. Gosh, that was difficult to figure out.

  • libertarian democrat||

    You could argue that research (which is a main function of many top universities) is a type of public use.

  • ||

    Dear Cab,

    You ciled mah pupy.

    Jerk.

    luv,

    joe

  • ||

    Private schools are ... well private. Gosh, that was difficult to figure out.

    I love it when ignorant people don't even know enough to avoid advertising their ignorance.

    Yes, J sub, public ownership is the only standard for determining public use in an eminent domain case. How incredibly wise you are. How silly of me.

    I wish I wz srmt like u.

  • ||

    Eminent domain is perfectly reasonable in this case. The property owner refuses to sell and Columbia wants the land. Since the property owner can't get anyone to move in it's obvious that the property(ies) are blighted. Columbia is perfectly within it's right to acquire what it needs to improve the community.

    Wheeee! Reading that made me dizzy.

  • kuarl marks||

    Otherwise, greedy property owners will continue to steal all value away from the area.

    Right on brother!

  • ||

    "He owns Tuck-It-Away Storage,"

    Slogan: Where everybody puts the lotion on the skin.

  • ||

    You could argue that research (which is a main function of many top universities) is a type of public use.

    You could argue that research (which is a main function of many top universities corporations) is a type of public use.

  • kuarl marks||

    Everything is public use, unless some greedy property owner takes over the means of production. We need to stop this .

  • ||

    I love it when ignorant people don't even know enough to avoid advertising their ignorance.

    Yes, J sub, public ownership is the only standard for determining public use in an eminent domain case. How incredibly wise you are. How silly of me.

    I wish I wz srmt like u.


    You obviously aren't. Muqtada al-Sadr runs private schools. Eminent domain for Madrassas?

  • ||

    Once they get title, site preparation will be a breeze.

  • ||

    The research and educations benefits provided by Columbia University provide enough of a public purpose to attract millions of dollars of public funding per year.

    Educational facilities are commonly treated as advancing a public purpose, and takings to allow the expansion of privately-owned schools are fairly common.

    You, yes you, can learn these and other widely-known facts related to planning and land use law, with only a minimal investment of time and effort.

  • libertarian democrat||

    JsD,

    Yup, and if you were to argue that, you also could justify their taking of land for that use (although less easily since they are for profit).

    I personally am a near absolutist on eminent domain, but I think there are reasons to argue for private organizations to take it (I just think they are unethical). Public use allows alot of nonlibertarian things.

  • kuarl marks||

    won't somebody think of the poor, underfunded, ivy-league schools?

  • Seward||

    When private entities are the beneficiaries of ED it will naturally lead to the politically well connected seeking to get the benefits of such power. Again, it is like all the other public lottery aspects of government spending, regulation, etc., and there is simply no way around it (except reducing the size of government's purview, which is unlikely to happen on any significant scale).

  • ||

    There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical of using eminent domain to benefit private parties - you certainly don't need to be a libertarian absolutist to recognize that.

    But "there's just no way" to address a set of problems with something that you would oppose even if there were not those problems is just a ploy.

    And the practice isn't going anywhere, so statements about the impossibility of reform amount to capitulation to the worst varities.

  • libertarian democrat||

    I am less sure about the education = public use considering some forms of education but I am sympathetic to that argument too.

    I don't think 99% of public uses are anywhere close to justifying eminent domain. I also think most eminent domain doesn't even make it into the category of public use anyway, but this particular case has merits (but should be fought anyway).

  • robc||

    provide enough of a public purpose

    Public purpose != public use no matter what SCOTUS says.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    It isn't a "ploy." It is the nature of human societies and the governments they create. ED creates the sorts of pigs at the trough incentives which are well known and which will not go away until the trough is taken away. There is plenty of evidence to support such an assertion.

    You apparently cannot argue against that so you go into one of your classic, pointless psychobabble bullshit arguments about "ploys" and what not. It isn't a ploy. It is what I believe.

  • robc||

    joe,

    There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical of using eminent domain to benefit private parties - you certainly don't need to be a libertarian absolutist to recognize that.

    I agree with you here. Is there no reason for lib abs types and others to not agree to push for a strict public use reading to prevent abuses?

    That would still allow more ED than I would be happy with while preventing these kind of abuses that the general public opposes.

  • Seward||

    robc,

    You'd have to surmount the diffuse vs. concentrated interests hurdle first I'd think. We see how well efforts to reform agricultural subsidies have done that.

  • ||

    What is the endowment of Columbia University? I'll bet they could come up with enough cash to buy the property at a fair market value. I wonder why they haven't done that?

  • ||

    l.d.,

    I am less sure about the education = public use considering some forms of education but I am sympathetic to that argument too.

    It's not an automatic thing, where any educational or instructional use is presumed by the courts to achieve the public purpose standard. What I mean is, a lot of states have applied that standard to university expansions.

    Is there no reason for lib abs types and others to not agree to push for a strict public use reading to prevent abuses?
    i>

    Depends on how strict you mean. No, liberals and people who aren't willing to sacrifice cities on the alter of the invisible hand are not going to go along with a reading of the public use standard that is so strict as to make redevelopment efforts impossible.

    It isn't a "ploy." It is the nature of human societies and the governments they create.

    Now, Seward, and argument you make is not "the nature of human socieites." It's a particular argument. Nobody needs an explanation of how the dynamic you describe works. The issue is what to do about it, and the answer "there's nothing to do but to do nothing," coming from someone who would advise the same thing regardless of the circumstances, is a ploy. There are many possible ways to deal with the problem you bring up; people like you won't ever consider them on their merits, because the abuses you decry aren't actually the problem you want to solve. They're just poster children for a bigger agenda, and addressing the particular abuses without throwing out the baby as well is the last thing you want.

    Please, go on using the magic word "psychobabble" to avoid having to responde to my point.




  • ||

    l.d.,

    I am less sure about the education = public use considering some forms of education but I am sympathetic to that argument too.

    It's not an automatic thing, where any educational or instructional use is presumed by the courts to achieve the public purpose standard. What I mean is, a lot of states have applied that standard to university expansions.

  • ||

    Third time's a charm.

    l.d.,

    I am less sure about the education = public use considering some forms of education but I am sympathetic to that argument too.

    It's not an automatic thing, where any educational or instructional use is presumed by the courts to achieve the public purpose standard. What I mean is, a lot of states have applied that standard to university expansions.

    Is there no reason for lib abs types and others to not agree to push for a strict public use reading to prevent abuses?


    Depends on how strict you mean. No, liberals and people who aren't willing to sacrifice cities on the alter of the invisible hand are not going to go along with a reading of the public use standard that is so strict as to make redevelopment efforts impossible.

    It isn't a "ploy." It is the nature of human societies and the governments they create.

    No, Seward, an argument you make about how to address the problem is not "the nature of human socieites." It's a particular argument, based on your ideology. Nobody needs an explanation of how the dynamic you describe works. The issue is what to do about it, and the answer "there's nothing to do but to do nothing," coming from someone who would advise the same thing regardless of the circumstances, is a ploy. There are many possible ways to deal with the problem you bring up; people like you won't ever consider them on their merits, because the abuses you decry aren't actually the problem you want to solve. They're just poster children for a bigger agenda, and addressing the particular abuses without throwing out the baby as well is the last thing you want.

    Please, go on using the magic word "psychobabble" to avoid having to respond to my point.

  • Ravac||

    I guess a storage-space business on a densely crowded and developed island city isn't a public benefit.

  • ||

    Cab,

    Sometimes, when you work for a criminal enterprise, people are going to take you to task for it. I don't buy your excuses.

    -jcr

  • Seward||

    joe,

    ...and the answer "there's nothing to do but to do nothing," coming from someone who would advise the same thing regardless of the circumstances, is a ploy.

    I am wrong apparently about why I make the arguments that I make, and since I am not even aware of it (and I am not, I would never describe my statement as a "ploy") perhaps I am even a victim of false consciousness.

    There are many possible ways to deal with the problem you bring up...

    Yeah, there is one way (and I have already suggested it); end the public lottery which ED for private entities creates by ending ED for private entities. That isn't going to happen though. Just like the drug war won't end. Just like agricultural subsidies won't end. Just like all the other public lotteries won't end. Fatalistic perhaps, but that is the way of the world. There is nothing one can do about it. As decades of experience have demonstrated. Public lotteries just don't go away - for multiple and obvious reasons. If you could show me five examples of the end of a public lotteries ending I'd be more than pleased to change my opinion.

  • ||

    I also think most eminent domain doesn't even make it into the category of public use anyway, but this particular case has merits


    I disagree with that. I think the majority of ED cases are for public uses, and I think this particular one has less merit than most (hence the media coverage). It has been my observation that the majority of the time, ED is used is for road creation and widening. It's difficult to argue those aren't for public use.


    What is the endowment of Columbia University? I'll bet they could come up with enough cash to buy the property at a fair market value. I wonder why they haven't done that?

    Disclaimer: I'm not sticking up for Columbia U.

    In theory at least, the property owner would get fair market value if the property were taken by ED. Fair market value would be determined by third party appraisers using the appropriate method, in this case probably the income approach.



    Different note: I understand the ire toward the abuse of ED on this board, but the ire toward the actual existence of ED is a little silly.

  • ||

    jcr, no offense, but I don't give a flying fuck what you are buying.

    (well, maybe I did mean some offense)

  • ||

    Fair market value would be determined by third party appraisers using the appropriate method

    I'm in favor of the "willing buyer/ willing seller" method.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    ...people like you won't ever consider them on their merits...

    Because they clash with the actual empirical findings of public choice economics.

    I remember back in the 1990s all the discussion about the end of "iron triangles" and "agency capture" and what not. Didn't happen. It still exists. It is still the norm for how government works. Ralph Pulitzer's observation (made in 1919) about "iron triangles" (I don't think he actually called them that) is still valid.

  • ||

    I'm in favor of the "willing buyer/ willing seller" method.

    No doubt, so am I. That's why I said "in theory."

  • ||

    Seward,

    I defy you even name one other alternate method of dealing with the public choice problem.

    C'mon, you know they've failed, and you certainly wouldn't spout off about something you don't know anything about, so...let's hear it.

  • ||

    Instead of stealing more property in Manhattan, Columbia should sell off their real estate there, and move to Plattsburgh.

    There's plenty of elbow room, up there.

  • ||

    I'm in favor of the "willing buyer/ willing seller" method.

    Is that how the sale price for land needed for a road or sewer line should be determined?

    "You can't go around me, huh? Well then, I'd be willing to sell for $3000 per square foot."

  • ||

    I am wrong apparently about why I make the arguments that I make, and since I am not even aware of it (and I am not, I would never describe my statement as a "ploy") perhaps I am even a victim of false consciousness.

    Actually, I think you know exactly what you're doing.

    Although I will hold out the possibility that you're a dupe, if it will make you feel better.

  • ||

    peachy : Since the property owner can't get anyone to move in it's obvious that the property(ies) are blighted.

    So vacancy=blighted. Only a moron or someone being purposefully obtuse could make such a statement.

    peachy again : Give one example where eminent domain hasn't served the best interests of the community. I'm sure you will struggle to find one.

    An excellent example the mind set that tolerates the constant slippery sloping away from individual liberty to fascist state control of every aspect of our lives.

  • robc||

    joe,

    Depends on how strict you mean. No, liberals and people who aren't willing to sacrifice cities on the alter of the invisible hand are not going to go along with a reading of the public use standard that is so strict as to make redevelopment efforts impossible.

    I mean publicly owned - streets, public schools, public universities, military bases, parks, libraries, airports, light rail, etc. Lots of things I dont think should be public, but Im compromising here.

    If Columbia was a state school, I wouldnt like it, but it would be constitutional, IMO. They wouldnt need to jump thru the "blighted" hoop either.

    A private school can just pay the dude enough to buy him out. He does have a price, they just havent offered it yet.

    This doesnt prevent redevelopment efforts - they just have to pay what the market will bear. Or work around the occassional holdout. I like mixed use, nothing wrong with a single house in the middle of a industrial complex. :)

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Ahh, dude, a non-individualistic approach, such as socialism. Public choice theory is like Austrian economics in its primary assumption; it starts with the individual. So any non-individualistic model would be an alternative model. Of course those models suck, but what the heck.

    Can you give me the five examples I requested above?

  • robc||

    In theory at least, the property owner would get fair market value if the property were taken by ED. Fair market value would be determined by third party appraisers using the appropriate method, in this case probably the income approach.

    Incorrect. Fair market value is what a willing buyer and a willing seller agree to. No appraiser can ever determine fair market value.

    This is the biggest problem with ED at all. It is fundamentally flawed. That doesnt mean I oppose it in all cases, I just acknowledge the basic flaw.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Actually, I think you know exactly what you're doing.

    Actually, I think if I were to make a claim like that you'd likely have a number of curt words for me about how I am telling you what you think.

  • ||

    Joe - "Educational facilities are commonly treated as advancing a public purpose, and takings to allow the expansion of privately-owned schools are fairly common."

    Likewise firearms are commonly treated as advancing an individuals purpose, say retaining ownership of their land and property they don't care to sell.

    Perhaps a few people being abused by this political bullshit going to the office of those that wish to run them off and blowing their heads off would make others think a bit longer before trying to steal through legal means what is not in anyway theirs to begin with. If the President of Columbia was breaking into my home to steal from me I would kill him all the same. I draw no distinction between the two acts of ED and breaking and entering. Just because it is government sanctioned has never prevented anyone from sanctioning the execution of the person doing them wrong.

  • Seward||

    Dee,

    Just about anything can be found to advance a public purpose I suspect. You know, bookstores advance the public purpose of a literate population. :)

  • Seward||

    Anyway, I can only assure everyone that my cynicism is not a "ploy."

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Sociology (as it was conceived as a discipline in the 19th century at least) is also another alternative; it was after all (as I have been informed) created as a discipline in reaction to the classical economics that significantly informs public choice theory.

  • ||

    doubled, peachy is trolling.

  • ||

    robc,

    I mean publicly owned - streets, public schools, public universities, military bases, parks, libraries, airports, light rail, etc. Lots of things I dont think should be public, but Im compromising here.

    Right, I know. I'm saying, people who care about development and urban issues are never going to go for that definition, even if they don't like the legal environment affirmed by Kelo. It throws out the baby with the bath water.

    Seward,

    Seward | December 4, 2008, 12:04pm | #

    joe,

    Ahh, dude, a non-individualistic approach, such as socialism.


    That's not an answer. That's like Sarah Palin being asked what magazines she reads, and answering "all of them." You're just confirming you don't know anything about the subject, and think you don't need to know, beyond an ideological understanding. Your ideology tells you there are no work-arounds for the public choice problem, and you aren't interested in finding out if that's true.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    That's not an answer.

    Actually, it is an answer, and it is correct. Your question was a fairly simple one and thus was answered in a simple manner.

    That's like Sarah Palin being asked what magazines she reads, and answering "all of them." You're just confirming you don't know anything about the subject...

    Apparently I know enough to tell you that the primary assumption of public choice theory concerns individualism. You apparently don't know this; if you did you wouldn't be accusing me of "know[ing] nothing" of the subject matter. Now that is clearly pedantic for me to point, then again, pedantry seems to be an appropriate response hyperventilating hyperbole.

    Your ideology tells you there are no work-arounds for the public choice problem, and you aren't interested in finding out if that's true.

    In fact, you are completely in error (that is becoming a theme isn't it?), I have clearly stated that there is a work around to the public choice problem (at least what, three times?). No one will adopt it however. If anyone is blinded by ideology, it is you.

  • robc||

    joe,

    Right, I know. I'm saying, people who care about development and urban issues are never going to go for that definition, even if they don't like the legal environment affirmed by Kelo. It throws out the baby with the bath water.

    What is it that you/these people want to keep? And how do you get it in an anti-Kelo world.

    I think the baby is the bath water in this case. I dont think it can be sliced any other way. Ending Kelo type abuses is more important than "development and urban issues".

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Here is a nice overview on public choice theory:

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PublicChoice.html

    Until you can tell me why I am wrong in my statement regarding the alternatives to public choice theory, as opposed to the casting of nearly content free insults, I really see no reason to engage you further on the matter.

    Good day.

  • ||

    I like mixed use, nothing wrong with a single house in the middle of a industrial complex. :)

    I fail to see a problem with a storage facility in the goddam middle of Columbia University. Patchwork Universities exist. WSU here in Detroit is a fine example. It is growing, buys up buildings to expand and leaves the apartment buildings/sub shops and liquor stores alone.

    Columbia, just try to imagine the concept - A university that is part of the community rather than set apart from the community.

    Or buil;d up not out as somebody prior to me suggessted.

    Or build an expansion campus somewhere else.

    Just stop being such complete dickheads about somebody else's property.

  • Seward||

    J sub D,

    Well, the fundamental problem with urban planning (or any other type of centralized planning for that matter) is the Hayekian knowledge problem. Which is reflected in all the urban planning disasters of the 20th century.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    In other words, since I am so clearly in error in my statements, wouldn't now be the appropriate time to "school" me with, you know, specifics so I can "fail?" Or epically fail?

  • ||

    Ending Kelo type abuses is more important than "development and urban issues".

    That's just crazy talk!

    *sticks fingers in ears*

  • Robert Goodman||

    show me five examples of a public lotteries ending


    The USA has ended conscription 3 times and the UK twice I know of. Harder to give a starker example than those.

  • Seward||

    Robert Goodman,

    I'm not quite sure how that is a lottery in the sense that public choice theory discusses. Could you flesh out your answer a bit?

  • Seward||

    Robert Goodman,

    Or let me be more precise, when I think of a public lottery I mean a government entity awarding some good, benefit, etc. to members of a group of competing actors. I am not the first person to note this, but the very competition this spawns is what leads inevitably to all the negative aspects of such awards. How is conscription a good or benefit? Who does it benefit? Who is competing for it? Etc.?

  • ||

    for more on this eminent domain battle, check out

    www.mylandismine.com

  • ||

    n,

    Thanks for the link.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Give one example where eminent domain hasn't served the best interests of the community. I'm sure you will struggle to find one.

    New London, CT seized Suzette Kelo's home for a corporate research facility, which has yet to be built eight years later.

  • left_nut_right_nut||

    BzzzT!

    Suzette Kelo was allowing her house to be used as a meth lab by the Hell's Angels. It is kind of ironic that Pfizer would take over a meth lab blight and then not make pharms there. But since drugs are bad the net effect for the community was good

  • ||

    Sprayregen should let them declare the neighborhood blighted and then petition to take over the Columbia buildings himself so he can "redevelop" the place. Declare "eminent domain" and take the buildings away from Columbia since they appear to be the source of most of the blight.

  • DWPittelli||

    Wouldn't it be hilarious if some other rich and liquid developer were to file to take away Columbia's blighted properties, to develop something else altogether? Too bad it's unlikely, especially in this economic climate.

  • ||

    Are you people crazy. Columbia is about to pour billions of dollars into a sagging New York economy and develop an area that contains mostly slums with collapsing roofs. The area is blighted and has been so for years. The owner of Tuck-it-Away and a local gas station have been made good offers for their property. They are simply holding out for more money.

    Instead of reflexively taking up the case of Tuck-it-Away simply because he is much weaker than Columbia, you should examine its greed versus the enormous economic benefit to New York and the potential benefits of the research that is being held up by Tuck-it-Away.

  • ||

    Well sooner or later someone is not going to spend their money on lawyers or politicians to get justice or protection. In the pre Rudy days their were tales of people hiring Asia gangs to get revenge.

  • Don Meaker||

    Here in LA the city took over some land and is building housing on it. While the vacancy rate is high and going up.

    You see, they had to pay off political contributors, and buying the land of one, and hiring the right contractors to do the building paid others.

  • ||

    Somebody mentioned the public interest in public domain because of the "educational" function of the universities: somebody else mentioned that argument would support PD for the "Bin Laden crowd" and their brain dissolving madrassas, that churn out "students" of car-bombing, mindless obedience, oppression and other manly enterprises.

    Isn't Columbia home to a prominent "school of journalism" that produces many of the staff of the LA and NY times, CBS, etc, etc, and many other MSM outlets? Madrassas...Main Street media...fanatical....Hmmmm, I can't quite put my finger on it, but is there is a connection there?

  • ||

    "Columbia is about to pour billions of dollars into a sagging New York economy and develop an area that contains mostly slums with collapsing roofs. ... "

    Unlike private property owners who do the same thing every year, year after year, hoping to eke out a return on their carefully husbanded investment? (That was sarcasm, deriding your false choice position of puttting forth a binary world of investment versus none.)

    The owner of Tuck-it-Away [has] been made [a] good offer for [the] property. [He] are simply holding out for more money."

    Indeed. Property rights are worth little if, only on some government worthies' say so and a white paper on the economic benefits, you must sell to another private entity who claims the property is better managed by them. In that world, current owners, rightly, refuse to invest long term, since their investment is subject to loss by seizure, for which they may or may not be compensated.

    "Instead of reflexively taking up the case of Tuck-it-Away simply because he is much weaker than Columbia,..."

    Um, right. All the arguments above start off with "because Tuck it Away is smaller..." If you are going to build a straw man, at least try to incorporate *some* straw from the other side's posts.

    "... you should examine its greed** versus the enormous economic benefit to New York and the potential benefits of the research that is being held up by Tuck-it-Away."

    I suspect many can do that, and did that. They are also weighing that isolated benefit against the potentially incalculable loss to society of lessening people's incentives to invest in private property. That is a real cost, but diffuse and hidden, since it is growth foregone, wealth never made, and loss not appearing on a balance sheet. It is real loss, however, and could be larger than any passing benefit wrung out by a small neighborhood in NYC in this instance.

    But hey, when you have to save the world one neighborhood at a time, why worry about what ramifications come from cracking those eggs to make that omlet? Just crack more whenever necessary.

    ** Greed, only on the part of one party? Columbia is so pure it shits lace, I supppose?

  • ||

    This is a problem that is, unfortunately, probably best addressed with a suitable application of plasma cutters, steel plate, welders, and a bulldozer.

    There seems to be little or nothing that can be done "within the system" to address eminent domain abuses. If we need a road, airport, etc., then fine.. but if they simply want to seize my home or business because some monied interest wants it, they can piss off.

  • ||

    Herb:

    Spartee addressed most of your post but Columbia has been doing this type of thing for alot more than 20 years. They got into a big media mess back in the early 70's when they were pulling the same thing in the morningside heights area. Columbia is probably not going to be pouring millions into the area, any building will be done by an out of state contractor. They have never been one for being community oriented, usually they are community antagonistic as their community is basically poor black and Hispanic. Not the usual sight they want a prospective's parents to see.

  • ||

    Well, keep liberals running the show, what do you expect?

  • ||

    Seems like Mr. Sprayregen has an extremely compelling case, to have Columbia's properties seized and given to him. He has shown he can maintain the property, and find people to rent it. Oh well, who is John Galt?

  • ||

    if they simply want to seize my home or business because some monied interest wants it, they can piss off.

    Protecting property from theft by more powerful parties is one of the things that we institute governments for. When government participates in the theft, it is illegitimate.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I don't give a flying fuck what you are buying.

    Why should you care what anyone's buying? You're living on stolen money.

    -jcr

  • ||

    BTW, Cab: do you have any skills that people would pay you for voluntarily? It's not too late; you could become a productive member of society if you wanted to.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Nobody has commented in more than a year. Do you think maybe they all just up and died all a sudden? You never know. There are so many people in the world that you cannot keep track of the living from the dead.

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