density&diversity: Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is going to be discussed during this year's session, and though it's somewhat of a symbolic issue,

For example, see this article.
The arguments in favor of an absolute prohibition, or an extremely circumscribed eminent domain authority are persuasive. The eminent domain process itself is unfair. As Jane Jacobs, renowned urban historian and a keen observer of urban redevelopment efforts noted in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, "Condemnations generally benefit the politically powerful while the costs fall on the poor and politically disadvantaged."

My feeling is that (private-to-private) eminent domain is worthless. Screw it! Cities should advocate small scale development proejcts that fit into their neigborhoods and offer organic, human-scale densification and tax-base growth. There's a reason that big, totalitarian, top-down management proposals are incredibly unpopular . . . it doesn't work very well. It doesn't build neighborhood values. It alienates the very people who are supposed to benefint from urban planning: the citizens.

Look for more on this topic, as it's a quasi-libertarian red meat issue.

1 comment:

MNObserver said...

I think that the debate is going to be framed by the red-meat libertarians, though. That's unfortunate, because that means we're likely to see limitations that will tie the hands of local governments (especialy larger cities) when trying to work with brown fields and other post-industrial land close to inner cities.

Most cities trying to do something with leftover industrial land don't have the money to flat-out by land that can get very pricey, and are forced to work with developers or see projects die and land sit idle.

And with polluted land, it's often cheaper for an industrial owner to let it sit empty than let things hapen that would trigger environmental testing and cleanup. So the city gets nothing unless it retains that big stick and expresses a willingness to use it.

Case in point: Victoria Park in St. Paul, built on a former gasoline tank fram wehre the threat of condemnation brought one owner to the table to discuss the redeveloment of 65 acres overlooing the Mississippi river gorge. The other owner is still in litigation, and was hoping the Kelo decision went the other way. Wouldn't have happened without that threat hanging in the air.


I hope some level of sanity prevails and the libertarians don't hold sway.

Great blog, btw. I gotta get over here more often.