The recent court ruling on eminent domain has helped private property rights advocates whip-up public opinion against government, planning, smart growth and those damn liberals.
The shallow contention of the right is that the decision "destroys private property rights." This alarming overstatement has been picked up and paraded around to strengthen distrust in local land use planning. My headline comes from this blog. Other similary overwrought headlines like: Supreme Court Abandons Consitutional Limit on Government Power and Judicial Activism Strikes Again are typical.
The Heritage Foundation laments:
We and other freedom-based groups watched this case closely and hoped for a decision that would put property rights and ownership above government planning and eminent domain. Today we were disappointed.
Another Heritage article, which has to be read to be believed, is entitled: Kelo Backlash Could Lead to Restoration of Property Rights Lost to Smart Growth and Eminent Domain Abuses. The chest-thumping conclusion:
To your side, Mr. President, summon some of the hundreds and thousands of Americans from around the country who have been dispossessed of their homes and businesses by the powerful businesses in search of a better location to sell their soap and socks.. Tell these people that you share and embrace their hopes and aspirations to fulfill the American Dream, and promise that you will stand by them and guarantee them equal protection under the law.
We're supposed to be impressed by that "number" but projects requiring condemnation action are far less common than the excitement indicates - and far more lucrative for property owners.
Albuquerque's high profile condemnation cases and threats have not hurt the finances of land developers like D. McCall or forceably removed anyone from their home. The most memorable close call was Mrs. Adela Martinez, the old lady who wouldn't move for construction of the Hispanic Cultural Center. But the City was using the "public purpose" part of the law so it wouldn't fit under this ruling and public opinion was already on her side so Marty and Manny gave up. From the Journal:
The late Adela Martinez may not have had a legal leg to stand on when her home was slated for condemnation to make way for the National Hispanic Cultural Center. But she stood up anyway, and her house still stands between the parking lot and a complex that was reconfigured to accommodate her. The public weighed the public good of building the popular center as planned against uprooting an elderly woman from her home. Officials weighed public opinion and relented.
In a move to pacify the uninformed, the Bernalillo County Commission passed a resolution Tuesday night, sponsored by Republican Michael Brasher saying the County would not use condemnation powers for economic development - even though New Mexico law already says they can't. The Albuquerque City Council may also waste time on this soon.
Take me. Coco