Property Rights

Our Enemy, The State of New York


The Institute for Justice has released a blockbuster new study entitled Building Empires, Destroying Homes: Eminent Domain Abuse in New York, which chronicles the Empire State's infuriating and deeply alarming disregard for property rights. From the introduction:

New York is perhaps the worst state in the nation when it comes to eminent domain abuse—the forcible acquisition of private property by the government for private development.  Over the past decade, a host of government jurisdictions and agencies statewide have condemned or threatened to condemn homes and small businesses for the New York Stock Exchange, The New York Times, IKEA, Costco, and Stop & Shop.  An inner-city church lost its future home to eminent domain for commercial development that never came to pass.  Scores of small business owners have been threatened with seizure for a private university in Harlem and for office space in Queens and Syracuse.  Older homes were on the chopping block near Buffalo, simply so newer homes could be built.  From Montauk Point to Niagara Falls, every community in the Empire State is subject to what the U.S. Supreme Court has accurately called the "despotic power."  This enthusiasm for eminent domain is encouraged by the New York courts, which habitually rubber-stamp condemnations and seem to consider any kind of private undertaking a public use.

Get a downloadable version here.

Yesterday, I discussed the eminent domain abuse behind the Atlantic Yards boondoggle in Brooklyn, and in February I examined Columbia University's shameful use of state power to grab land in Harlem. Both cases are detailed here, along with far too many more.