Wednesday, December 07, 2005

More Their's For the Taking

In today's NY Sun Julia Levy is reporting on a NY court ruling that has given ED opponents hope in the wake of the SC's Kelo decision. The decision involves the town of Port Chester and its urban renewal-style efforts that resulted in the building of a shopping center. The essence of the ruling was that the town had not properly informed one of the local businessmen about his rights to challenge an eminent domain-based redevelopment project.

The ruling, while it doesn't necessarily mean that the local entrepreneur will be awarded damages, does begin to restore some balance to the ED process. As well-known ED opponent (and the lawyer in the Port Chester case) Dana Berliner commented, "Right now, the government holds all the cards, and the private citizens hold none...This is an effort to restore some of the fairness to the process."

Since 1999, New York State law has gotten better in this area with the recently passed law (sponsored by Richard Brodsky) that requires government to inform property owners by mail if their property is at risk of being by eminent domain. The decision this week called the change in state law "a wise policy choice."

In a related item Crain's Insider reported yesterday that Congressman Charlie Rangel was looking to make some changes in the recently passed ED bill when it is sent to the Senate. He feels that the definition of "blight" needs to be sharpened and that he feels that ED is appropriate when it leads to the building of affordable housing.

Well, not necessarily. The congressman should read Nicole Gelinas' piece in the most recent City Journal. Gelinas highlights some of the most egregious examples of the use of ED to wipe out neighborhoods to make way for public housing projects that have been, in NYC, less than beneficial to the poor in particular and to the city as a whole as well.

Clearly, the ED issue is bound to heat up after the new year not only here in NYC (with the GZBA and Willets Point folks) but all around the country. The attention to Riviera Beach in Florida is just one case in point.

In fact, in today's USA Today there is a useful discussion of the mess in Florida What's fascinating here is that the mayor of Riviera Beach, is actually accusing the property owners of being selfish, "The people who live on the water are cheating the poorest members of the community." That's an incredible statement of a redistributionist philosophy that masks the outright thievery of the whole taking mentality.