"This shouldn't be happening in Rosa Parks' backyard"

|

As David Beito noted earlier this week, the Alabama State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (which Beito chairs) held a meeting on Wednesday where victimized property owners were invited to share their stories of eminent domain abuse. The Montgomery Advertiser was there:

Two men, Jimmie McCall and Jim Peera, told the committee that the city of Montgomery was using these ordinances to take land away from low-income minority property owners.

Both men have a long history with the city, and each has litigation against the city pending….

Peera is the owner of Avon Court Apartments, which he noted was about a block away from where Rosa Parks lived. The city had a portion of the apartment complex demolished after certain units were found to be unsafe.

Peera, who is from Africa, said he had a $1 million plan to revitalize the property and turn it into affordable housing but that the city blocked that project by rezoning the property from multi-family to single-family dwellings.

"This shouldn't be happening in Rosa Parks' backyard," Peera told the committee members.

"I believe it's what I call the backdoor to eminent domain. It's all about control," said Peera, who lives in Atlanta.

In McCall's case, the black Montgomery resident's would-be home was torn down before it was finished after the city's housing codes office found it to be unsafe. He had planned to build his "dream home" on a two-acre property at 3118 Woodley Road.

Whole story here. Beito's original story here.

NEXT: Heart Attacks Rise After Smoking Bans As Often As They Fall

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Montgomery is the home city of the Southern Poverty Law Center; it would be interesting to know what they have to say about this. Would they dismiss opposition to eminent domain as anti-government extremism, maybe to be reported to the Department of Homeland Security?

  2. This is just wrong on so many ways.

  3. This shouldn’t be happening in Rosa Parks’ backyard,” Peera told the committee members.

    But Martin Luther King’s backyard would be perfect for a stripmall and condominium project!

  4. Would they dismiss opposition to eminent domain as anti-government extremism, maybe to be reported to the Department of Homeland Security?

    Not if its done by minorities. Anti-government extremism, like racism, is the exclusive province of white men.

  5. Two men, Jimmie McCall and Jim Peera, told the committee that the city of Montgomery was using these ordinances to take land away from low-income minority property owners.

    What’s edited out of your excerpt from the story is that “these ordinances” are not eminent domain ordinances. The men claim the city is trying to take the land away, but the story reports that they told one man he can’t build multi-family dwellings on his property because it’s been zoned for single-family use. The city apparently demolished the home the other man was building on his property because the housing codes office found it to be unsafe. There’s no indication in either case that the city seized the land.

    Both may be cases of improper government interference with property rights, but they don’t seem to have anything to do with eminent domain. What am I missing?

  6. parse, are you not familiar with the concept of “over-regulation as takings?”

    Kevin

  7. Parse:

    I think you are missing something. First, it needs to be stressed that both Peera and McCall have won repeatedly in the courts but the city is dragging it out through appeals. The courts have rejected in no uncertain terms the city’s claim that McCall’s home was “unsafe.” Moreover, a structural engineer, who was trusted by the courts, has ruled that it was safe.

    Second, IMHO, there is no doubt the city is using these methods to take property on a massive scale. This is a form of eminent domain through the back door that is much, much worse than standard eminent domain which affords the property some right to compensation.

    In many cases, the city has used a very subjective standard of “nuisance” or “blight,” to get a demolition order. It then demolishes the structure and bills the owner. The owners are often too poor to pay (or lose the will to fight) and then lose their land, often through abandonment or selling it at a major discount. If that doesn’t count as a takings, what does?

  8. “But Martin Luther King’s backyard would be perfect for a stripmall and condominium project!”

    They already did that. They call it Atlanta.

  9. I wash my hands of this isolated incident but I still support Eminent Domain

  10. Second, IMHO, there is no doubt the city is using these methods to take property on a massive scale. This is a form of eminent domain through the back door that is much, much worse than standard eminent domain which affords the property some right to compensation.

    Austin, your point is well taken, but since, as you point out, the process is much worse than standard eminent domain, what’s the value of describing that in those terms? “Corrupt city officials drive property owners to financial ruin” sounds worse to me than “eminent domain abuse”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.