On Beyond Kelo

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Saturday's NYT offers a round-up of post-Kelo activity, including some jurisdictions that are moving quickly to condemn homes and businesses in order to replace them with shopping centers, condos, etc.

In Texas, for example, the city of Arlington has sought to condemn homes for a new Cowboys stadium, and in the wake of Kelo officials "filed condemnation lawsuits against some holdout property owners this month. Officials in Sunset Hills, Mo., outside St. Louis, voted to condemn a cluster of homes to make way for a shopping center, despite the pleas of some elderly homeowners who said they had nowhere else to go and no desire to move. Officials in Oakland, Calif., evicted a tire shop and an auto repair shop to make room for a development that is part of Mayor Jerry Brown's plan to bring 10,000 residents to the central part of the city."

The major case featured by the Times involves Santa Cruz, CA, where "city officials started legal action this month to seize a parcel of family-owned land that holds a restaurant with a high Zagat rating, two other businesses and a conspicuous hole in the ground and force a sale to a developer who plans to build 54 condominiums."

The owner of the so-called "hole in the ground" had "proposed hard-to-build, idealistic plans, involving alternative energy sources and unusual designs, that have never gotten off the ground"; his family says he's being penalized for trying to build something special on his property. The city says that its condemnation "is moving forward" because "The Supreme Court gave us reassurance of our ability to proceed."

Matt linked to this Kelo roundup on Friday.

NEXT: Battle for the Planet of the Apes

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  1. I’ve been faithfully punching a hole next to the Democratic or Republican candidate of my choice for 20 years, and this is what it’s come to.

    So, this is what it feels like to be radicalized.

  2. Well you should certainly vote for the Democrats: they may take your house, they will certainly take as much of your money as they can, but at least they’ll protect you from those Christians …
    unless you are a video gamer – then all bets are off.

    Interesting that NYT features Santa Cruz. They are the most left-wing city on the planet – I guess they just couldn’t wait to use
    their newfound kelo-power.

  3. Gee-Zuss Kay-riste on a pogo-stick. I fucking knew it! God I need a drink…

    Ford: We’ve got to talk. And drink, It’s vitally important that we talk and drink.

    Arthur: Look don’t you understand? That man wants to knock my house down.

    Ford: Well he can do it while your’re away, can’t he?

    Arthur: But I don’t want him to!

    Ford: Ah

  4. i thought the nyt supported kelo. at least thats what their editorial page the day after indicated…

  5. Hey, I’m up for a drink! Course there’s nothing new about that. It’s the only sane respose to this anyway.

  6. Mewsifer: I stopped voting for Democrats when I became a Christian. I think, post-Kelo and Raich, that I’ll stop voting for Republicans. If only Libertarians weren’t so often pro-choice… 🙁

  7. What the fuck do we have a second amendment for if we can’t use it to shoot Jerry Brown & Co’s thugs when they come to take our property?

    Can someone please explain?

  8. As NYT helpfully points out for us:
    ———————————–

    But at the same time, the court invited states to tailor their own laws. While only one state, Delaware, has changed its law, most states are likely to have a proposed change by next year, Mr. Morandi said.

    “The initial outcry after the court case was: Nobody’s house is safe, we’ve got to do something now,” he said. “But as more states take a look at this they will respond in some form, but they won’t want to take away a valuable tool.”

  9. Adam,

    The 2nd amendment gives you the right to purchase and own firearms and ammunition. One good reason to have this amendment is so that the citizenry can protect itself from an abusive government.

    Surely the framers realized that such a government would make it illegal to shoot them … but the amendment is there anyway.

    And Supernatural Rabbit: please, Souter wasn’t really our fault – the guy before him was canned for pot-smoking after all.

  10. The second amendment is an anachronism, as the Branch Davidians made inexorably clear.

  11. Yeah, but it’s alot easier to picture Janet Reno in an M1 tank than Jerry Brown.

  12. Let me ask you all this… how many of us are gearing up to get initiatives on the ballot that will severly curtail eminent domain takings for the next election? How many have started getting signatures on a petition regarding ED to present to their elected officials? How about supporting (i.e. donating money to, volunteering to campaign for, advising, etc.) a municipal candidate in the enxt election whose promises to actively work to curtail ED? How many have thought about running themsevles for office based on this very issue? I am not trying to be a prick here (I haven’t really thought much about any of these either). I’m just curious how many of us have gotten past the grousing stage and are actually trying to do something constructive about it (and yeah, buying lots of guns in case the shit comes down is not really that constructive, at least not in the sense if you are working to avoid a situation where you might really need those guns). So, let’s hear about what you’ve done. It will give other readers ideas and information.

  13. Swede,
    I am not sure that buying guns is not productive. How many shootouts till they figure the ED laws are quite a hassle?

  14. To Wit: If you live in California, please email your local state representative in support of
    California Bill Number SCA 15 sponsored by Sen. McClintock (you may recall he was the Republican who ran against Aarnold in the special election).

    Swede, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of Gallows humor here; everyone knows how serious this actually is.

  15. mewsifer,

    I apologize for giving the impression that I am aghast that we are making some wisecracks here instead of focusing on getting the job done. Nothing could be further from the truth! The reason I read Reason is because it is funny and the commentators are the best on the web. I was just curious as to what is actually being done out there. So, in light of that, thanks for posting the Sen. McClintock info. Perhaps you could write a little bit more about it. What is SCA 15? What is the intended effect? Is it popular within the CA legislature, or is this going to be an uphill fight? Co-sponsors from the Dems or no? Fill our thirst for knowledge, mewsifer!

  16. It seems both houses of the CA legislature have bills proposing
    to amend the CA constitution to prevent eminent domain abuse.
    If passed quickly, they will be on the November ballot for voter approval; otherwise they could be on the ballot the following June. They have wide bipartisan support.

    Here is McClintock’s press release, hope the link works

    http://republican.sen.ca.gov/web/mcclintock/article_detail.asp?PID=297

  17. No apology necessary Swede – I was being too flippant.

    SCA 15 is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that, among other things, specifically defines “public use” in California as the U.S. Supreme Court *should* have defined it in kelo:

    Here is one article from it:

    WHEREAS, It is the intent of the Legislature that private property
    shall not be taken or damaged for the use, exploitation, or
    management of any private party, including, but not limited to, the
    use, exploitation, or management of property taken or damaged by a
    corporation or other business entity for private profit, as is
    currently permitted under the United States Constitution under Kelo
    v. City of New London, __ U.S. __ (2005);

    The are Democratic co-sponsors; I do not have a sense for how likely we are to prevail in the legistature … the Democrats do run it. In the long run if enough people complain. That’s the one silver lining in Kelo – ED used to be a moving target, but Kelo pinned it down big time.

    You may wish to vist Sen. McClintock’s webiste – he’s an interesting figure.

    http://republican.sen.ca.gov/web/mcclintock/

    You can find complete text of SCA 15 there, plus his blogging on ED issues.

  18. Thanks for everything, mewsifer and Icat. Good information; hopefully readers will utilize it and spread the word. So, where else and how else is runaway ED being fought?

  19. At least there’s a balance, sort of. Some of the projects get rid of people to bring in business, and some get rid of businesses to bring in people. <barf>

  20. Worry not, my dears, joe will arrive shortly to reassure us that everything’s hunky-dorey.

  21. A day after the Kelo decision was delivered, Freestar Media LLC submitted a proposal in the town of Weare, New Hampshire where majority opinion writer, Justice Souter, owns a farm house. They requested that the town board condemn the land and give it to them, as private developers, who promise to construct the Lost Liberty Hotel in its place. Their tax revenue would no doubt be higher than the reported $2,500 that Justice Souter paid in property taxes last year. It would create employment and attract tourism. The town has a website, and an economic development committee, which has identified its two main goals: 1) Encourage the formation of new businesses, and 2) Promote tourism. However, contrary to its stated goals and the legally sanctioned purpose of economic development, the town?s board turned down the proposal.

    So much for poetic justice. Justice Souter?s influence in his community shielded him from his own ruling. No other rational justification can be found.

    Thankfully, the legislative branch is now busy at work attempting to shield private property rights from the Supreme Court ruling. It seems that the two may have switched roles, with the House defending the Constitution, and the Supreme Court writing new laws.

    I thought I saw Alice the other day! Or maybe it was Justice Souter ?skipping in Wonderland, immune to and above the laws he passes.

  22. Worry not, my dears, joe will arrive shortly to reassure us that everything’s hunky-dorey.

    Actually, in another Kelo thread that’s still on the main page, joe promised that the next Kelo thread will be a joe-free zone, as a way of doing penance for several consecutive posts.

    Is there a clearinghouse of information on ED issues being brought before local and state governments? I would gladly stand in the mall with a clipboard to collect signatures for a local measure here in Montgomery County, Maryland. Or write to my state legislators to support or oppose (as appropriate) any ED legislation being considered in Maryland.

  23. The Santa Cruz empty lot is just down the street from me. It’s been empty since the earthquake in 1989. According to what I read in the local paper, the city has been begging the owner to build something, anything on that spot for years. It’s right on the main street which has been completely rebuilt since the quake. It’s a very touristy area full of restaurants and shops.

    I’m no fan of eminent domain, and would support restricting it severely. But this is not a case of the local government gleefully jumping in to seize someone’s property based on the Kelo decision. They’ve been extremely patient!

    A bigger scandal is all the no-growth restrictions around here that make it so difficult to build in the first place.

  24. “But this is not a case of the local government gleefully jumping in to seize someone’s property based on the Kelo decision. They’ve been extremely patient!

    A bigger scandal is all the no-growth restrictions around here that make it so difficult to build in the first place.”

    well i guess the local government hasn’t been patiant enough to lower its restrictions.

    anyway it is not an issue of being patiant…the property is not the local government’s it is its owner’s that is why it is property right…and yes this gives the right of the owner to act in a irrational way that hurts his or her economic intrests. Regardless if the neigbors want something different.

  25. this is not a case of the local government gleefully jumping in to seize someone’s property based on the Kelo decision. They’ve been extremely patient!

    So why are they seizing adjacent property (ie, the restaurant) as well?

  26. Not to mention that the city is using the excuse that the neighbors have complained about the “hole in the ground” to seize the neighbors’ own property as well!

  27. My comment wasn’t that eminent domain was great. It was that this is not a reaction to Kelo. The NYTimes article makes it sound as if this is recent. It’s been going on for 15 years!

    As for building restrictions, that also doesn’t seem to apply here. The owner is being far fussier about environmental impact than even the county and city would be (and that’s saying a lot!) The people who usually get burnt are the ones who buy lots back in the woods, only to discover that you can’t really build on them due to all the restrictions. I don’t know what the codes say about downtown developments, but some things have been built here recently, including a new block of apartments, and numerous stores. I think the owner could certainly have built something on his property.

    I have no idea why neighboring businesses are being affected. It’s possible it’s all one lot, and he’s subletting them.

    In any case, we’re not talking about low-income housing confiscated for a WalMart. This is literally a hole in the ground, with trash and homeless people living in it — surrounded by upscale shops on all sides.

    This really appears to be a grudge fight between a flakey, lefty owner and the flakey, lefty city over what kind of thing gets built there. Not a good example of Kelo confiscations.

  28. May their projects collapse on their heads.

  29. “As for Laus and their restaurant, Ms. Cirillo said there might still be a place for them in the new development – after they sell out”

    I think that about says it all. We’re going to take your land, upgrade it and sell it back at a higher cost. Now bend over and drop your pants while I throw a handful of sand into the vasoline.

  30. The Santa Cruz empty lot is just down the street from me. It’s been empty since the earthquake in 1989

    Is the Cafe Brazil still around? Man I loved that place. Used to get this omelette there with avocado slices on top whenever i was in town to play ultimate frisbee… mmm mmm….

    Anyway, still at the grousing stage for the most part. Things in Va. are shaping up positively so far, but our HOA is doing its part to keep the heat on the candidates and the pols to annul the effect of Kelo here. The great thing about Northern Va is so many people are brand new homeowners that gutting Kelo is an easy sell. Good luck to those in the more liberal enclaves, but i’m optimistic (at the moment) that we won’t have to worry about Kelo-theft here.

    Wondering though, if this hasn’t helped at least a little: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50416-2004Jul14.html

    PS — if anybody could explain me how to embed a link on this site i’d be much obliged; you can email me if you like. Till then, sorry for the long link.

  31. Actually, in another Kelo thread that’s still on the main page, joe promised that the next Kelo thread will be a joe-free zone, as a way of doing penance for several consecutive posts.

    Maybe he guessed that those *cough* libertarians at the NYT would be “spinning up their base”…

  32. I’m no fan of eminent domain, and would support restricting it severely. But this is not a case of the local government gleefully jumping in to seize someone’s property based on the Kelo decision. They’ve been extremely patient!

    Oh, how nice of them! The government has been patiently asking this person to do something with his property, and they’ve patiently waited for him to do something, so it’s alright for the government to just FUCKING TAKE IT AWAY BECAUSE THEY’VE BEEN PATIENT?!?

    I’m going to patiently ask you to suck my cock.

  33. Michael:

    You are wrong, there is a much larger undeveloped hole (thats right folks, a 1/2-city block with weeds growing in the old basement) on Pacific Avenue (Rittenhouse property).

    The Lau “hole” has a wooden walkway over it and the remainder of the property is developed. The Rittenhouse property is a big open pit with a chain-link fence around it. The Lau’s are a soft target, so they are buggered… no local judge would side against Rittenhouse, so therefore, the city lets him be.

    Cafe Brazil burned down last year and re-opened like a Phoenix.

  34. IW: Don’t know if you’re still here, but you can create a hyperlink by typing <a href=”url”>hyperlink text</a>. So <a href=”http://google.com”>Google</a> becomes Google.

  35. Is there a clearinghouse of information on ED issues being brought before local and state governments?

    Try http://www.castlecoalition.org/

    The site is a creation of The Institute for Justice, the non-profit that fought Kelo before the “Supreme” court. If you want to “do something” but can’t/won’t collect signatures, try throwing some $ IJ’s way & help support the cause.

  36. For the Texas perspective:

    I think, but haven’t been able to prove, that the move by Arlington, TX on behalf of the &*#00!#$%* (spoiled non-legitimate whiny rich boyx) Cowbows is because the State legislature is moving seriously (and quickly, for Texas) to bar all jurisdictions from using condemnations to transfere property to other private owners.

    My doubt is whether Texas, or any state will abide by its own restrictions at some later date.

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