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Imminently concerned: A local view of eminent domain
Cupertino's land use shot heard far and wide
Eminent Domain Project at Standstill Despite Ruling
Blight Makes Right: October 26, San Diego
Eminent Domain in N.J. - Now They Just Steal Land
Senate & Assembly Committee Joint Interim Hearing on Redevelopment & Blight. Weingart City Heights Library, S.D.
PROPERTIES THROUGHOUT MOST OF BERKELEY LIKELY TO BE SUBJECT TO "TAKING" BY EMINENT DOMAIN
Senate bill would blunt property ruling
Conference on Redevelopment Abuse
San Jose, California. 95103
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July 10, 2005
By Assemblyman Ray Haynes
We all know we need food, water, and sleep to survive. We know what they are. We can see them, touch them, and experience them everyday. We also need oxygen. Without it, we would die, yet we can't see it (except perhaps in Los Angeles). We know it is there, somehow, but we don't know exactly what it is. We certainly don't want to lose it.
Freedom - true political freedom, as it was meant to exist, and as it was designed by our founding fathers, has certain requirements to survive, live and thrive as well. Freedoms of the press, of speech, of association, and of religion are all easy to see and define. There is, however, one right that is the oxygen of freedom, one without which freedom of speech, press, and religion cannot exist. Yet, this last week, the Supreme Court polluted this right---the right to own and control property, to the point that it may choke off freedom in this country.
Usually, when someone wants to buy your property, they have to meet your price to get it from you. Eminent domain, however, allows a government to take your property for a 'public use.' The government determines the price, and then forcibly takes your land from you. When a 'public use' involves taking a home that stands in the way of a new freeway that is critical to the region, it can be a necessary evil. In Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court held that the 'public use' section of the eminent domain language could mean anything that the majority of the elected officials of a government body wants it to mean. In Kelo, the government took someone's land, and then handed it over to a developer to build a hotel; the alleged 'public use' was the increase in tax revenue to the city. The city claimed it was appropriate because they paid 'fair market value' for the land.
This is a frightening expansion of eminent domain. There have already been previous efforts to condemn properties to build a Costco or other warehouse-type store. And don't think it can't happen to you! While the standard used to be a necessary public use, or that the property was blighted, they now only have to show that the new use will be more beneficial than the old use. In a system that depends on sales taxes or higher property taxes, your home or farm will never be as valuable to them as it is to you. Nearly any commercial use is more beneficial to local governments than any residential use.
This is a corruption of the concept of private property, and the beginning of the end of freedom.
Nowsome people will say hogwashprivate property rights have nothing to do with political freedom. But think about it. Of what value is the freedom of speech or press if you are afraid some government official will take your property if you speak upif that government official can bankrupt you for exercising your rights? If you go bankrupt in the defense of freedom, you still have to explain to your children why there is no food on the table. To prove this point, ask this question, how many developers will criticize a city councilperson or a county supervisor? Very few. Why? Because those government officials hold the fate of the developers' business in their hands, and, if the developer is afraid to criticize an elected government official (or even oppose them in an election) of what value is the freedom of speech?
That is why property rights are as critical to freedom as oxygen is to our life. After Kelo, any majority (three people in most cities and counties) of elected officials can take your home for criticizing them, if they can come up with a good reason for doing it. If they don't like your neighbor, they can take your home for going over there for a bar-b-que! That is a powerful incentive for most people to just shut up or avoid their neighbors. Of what value is freedom of speech and association if elected officials can act in that fashion?
You may say that such a thing would never happen here - but, under Kelo, it can, and if it can, trust me, it will. In Communist China, it happens everyday. I have had something very similar happen to me. We are dangerously close to losing our very precious freedoms because the Supreme Court just undermine the most fundamental right - the right to own and control property.Posted by Coalition Webbies at July 10, 2005 04:28 PM