Property Rights

The Specter of Condemnation is Haunting New York


Daniel Goldstein, the lead plaintiff in the New York eminent domain lawsuit Goldstein v. New York State Development Corporation, takes to The Huffington Post to explain just how high the stakes in the case really are:

As of now, though, there is basically no protection for property owners and tenants in New York. If a condemning authority, such as the Empire State Development Corporation, or New York City's Economic Development Corporation, staples together enough pieces of paper that make speculative claims about some amorphous "public benefits"—then your home will become theirs to transfer to private developers for their enrichment.

Such is the case with the use of eminent domain for the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project, which is what the Court is now considering.  If public use can mean public "benefit," then it can literally mean whatever the state wants it to mean, and leads to the non-rhetorical question: What isn't a public use?

Right now, the answer is unknown. We need some clarity. Most observers wouldn't consider luxury condominiums and a privately owned basketball arena with lucrative naming rights accruing solely to the arena developer to be a public use.

Read the whole thing here. For more on the Atlantic Yards boondoggle, see Goldstein's Reason article "Private Developers Have No Right to My Home" and my "When Public Power is Used for Private Gain."

Photo by Steve Soblick.

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  1. I’m trying to come up with a joke involving the anti-Catholic sentiment in the picture but I’m fumbling.

  2. Didn’t Kelo vs. New London already determine that as long as the state says there is a “benefit” then you can be kicked out of your homes? Aren’t we already here?

    1. It’s not quite that simple — according to Kelo, there has to be some sort of coherent redevelopment plan behind the taking. IIRC the court said that the taking of just one house in a non-blighted area and handing it over to a private party would probably not be constitutional because it’s hard to imagine a coherent redevelopment plan that only involves one small piece of property.

  3. SCOTUS did, but NY State is being asked if they agree.

  4. Didn’t Kelo vs. New London already determine that as long as the state says there is a “benefit” then you can be kicked out of your homes? Aren’t we already here?

    The Michigan Supreme coyurt reversed itself and now says public use means public use. They admit that the Poletown decision was made in violation of the state constition and a contradiction of a century of previous case law.

    This has been a long dirty fight and it isn’t over yet.

  5. Specter haunts us all.

  6. I defended the New York State Development Corporation over at Huffpo.

    Wait a cotton picking minute here. Is Daniel Goldstein trying to claim that big government sides with big business to the detriment of the little guy?

    That’s just ludicrous. Everybody knows when the all knowing omnibenevolent elected officials do something it is for the little guy, right? New York has campaign finance laws and every progressive bell and whistle imaginable to protect the citizens..

    The greedy holdout property owners are just trying to stick it to the public by preventing all of the benefit that will accrue by having millionaire athletes playing in a taxpayer subsidized arena built for their billionaire owner on land that belongs to somebody else.

  7. Maybe we should send Hillary Clinton there to broker some sort of peace deal.

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