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Eminent Domain Policy Story on 60 Minutes

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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2,549
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A local business owner just called me to let me know that 60 Minutes will have a segment on controversial eminent domain policies Sunday night.

From CBS' website:

In the third story, Correspondent Mike Wallace investigates controversial eminent domain policies, where the government is forcing private citizens to sell homes and businesses in cases that seem to benefit private rather than public interests.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
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3,223
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29
See the Poletown Neighborhood Council v. City of Detroit (304 N.W.2d 455, 410 Mich. 616 (1981)) case.

More information at http://www.law.berkeley.edu/faculty/rubinfeldd/LS145/poletown.html

This case says "...the power of eminent domain is to be used in this instance primarily to accomplish the essential public purposes of alleviating unemployment and revitalizing the economic base of the community. The benefit to a private interest is merely incidental... If the public benefit was not so clear and significant, we would hesitate to sanction approval of such a project."
 

SGB

Cyburbian
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3,388
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26
An excellent piece

The 60 Minutes story details eminent domain cases pending in Lakewood Ohio, Mesa Arizone, and New York City.

In all three cases, the municipalities propose using eminent domain powers to convey properties from current owners to new private owners - all in the name on increasing the tax base through higher market value residential or commercial development.

In the case of the City of Lakewood Ohio, the City Council defined residential properties as blighted if they did not include the following:
- 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
- attached 2 car garage
- > 5,000 square foot lots
- air conditioning.

Ironically, the neighborhood under scrutiny in Lakewood doesn't need air conditioners. It benefits from a nearly constant summer breeze coming off of Lake Erie.

None of the City Council properties exceed the criteria for blighted, including the Mayor's home. And what do they want the 55 (yes, 55) properties for? To be redeveloped for high end residential condominiums and a commercial plaza/mall!!!

This is absolute **llsh**. I'm firmly with the libertarians and the subject property owners on this one. Whatever became of the American dream?
 
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Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
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3,223
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29
Re: An excellent piece

SGB said:
Whatever became of the American dream?

Good points, but I'm not a believer in the Dream. It's a nightmare. Better to have your own dream. Better yet, don't dream: We should wake up and face reality.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
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3,223
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29
jordanb said:
Sounds like urban renewal.

Even if it involves white folks?

 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
No doubt, some communities abuse the right of eminent domain. Never-the-less, it is a good tool when used appropriately. Private redevelopment can serve a public purpose.
 

ecofem

Cyburbian
Messages
206
Points
9
Sure, private development can serve a valuable purpose in urban renewal.... but if you saw the 60 Minutes piece, I think you would agree that, in this case, it wasn't so much a question of urban renewal, as it was a misuse of the police powers.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
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6,655
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I saw the story. It was very enlightening. And appalling. Forcing middle-class Americans living in neighborhoods that most Americans would love to live in out of the homes they worked all their lives in order to turn them over to fat-cat developers for condos and commercial development. This is appalling. I think the people of Lakewood at their next election should relocate the mayor and council members out of their city offices and kick them to the curb. Improving the tax base and benefitting devleopers is not a way eminent domain should be used.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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That Lakewood example is one where it makes me ashamed to be in a profession that works with eminent domain. Here you have this beautiful neighborhood where all of the homes seem well maintained. That neighborhood looks similar to a lot of very desireable neighborhoods in and around Milwaukee, yet they call it blighted.

How that Mayor could sit on camera with that smug face of hers and actually feel good about what the City is doing is beyond me.
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
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2,274
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25
OIHO

BIG story out here.
Proves the old addage you know there's trouble when 60 Minutes shows up.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
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Repo Man said:
How that Mayor could sit on camera with that smug face of hers and actually feel good about what the City is doing is beyond me.

But, wait! Did you check out her body language as well as her actual verbal responses? I noticed two things immmediately:
1) She couldn't provide a clear or concise explaination of how the City defined "blight."
2) She could not keep eye contact with either the camera or Mike Wallace.

I don't think she feels good about this at all. But she wasn't about to admit it.
 

RoadRunner

Member
Messages
39
Points
2
the Court has spoken...

if you're interested in what constitutes a "public use" for purposes of eminent domain, your best authority is Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984), a Supreme Court case in which the Court determined that a government's use of eminent domain receives so-called "rational basis" scrutiny (i.e., as long as the government body could have concluded that the taking was "rationally" related to a "legitimate" government purpose, it's kosher). in that case, a Hawaiian state statute that permitted condemnation of property and its redistribution to alleviate the concentrated property ownership of the state was determined to be okey-dokey.


the poletown case, noted earlier, is also is an oft-cited landmark decision; but this is the current standard from the Supreme Court.

cheers...
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
ecofem said:
Sure, private development can serve a valuable purpose in urban renewal.... but if you saw the 60 Minutes piece, I think you would agree that, in this case, it wasn't so much a question of urban renewal, as it was a misuse of the police powers.

I mean "urban renewal" as parcticed in the 60s and 70s, declaring an area of the city blighted, condemning it, bulldozing it, and handing it over to a developer. The same thing is happening here, just in Suburbia.
 

ecofem

Cyburbian
Messages
206
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9
jordanb said:
I mean "urban renewal" as parcticed in the 60s and 70s, declaring an area of the city blighted, condemning it, bulldozing it, and handing it over to a developer. The same thing is happening here, just in Suburbia.

Nope. Have to disagree. The neighborhood at issue may now be considered a 'suburb' of Cleveland... but....The houses in this case are over 100 years old and historic, not '70s ranchburgers.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
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3,838
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Stuff like this makes people distrust the Planning profession. It seems like 60's style urban renewal still goes on but in a more PC way. No one would demolish an entire minority neighborhood now - but just because it would look bad. Favorite targets now are unattractive small businesses and modest homes that won't spark the wrath of any particular interest group.

If there is a market for redevelopment it will come without the government forcing people to move.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
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If there is a market for redevelopment it will come without the government forcing people to move. [/B]


In all three cases cited in the 60 Minutes story, the property market never even became a direct consideration, so-to-speak. Those interested in redevelopment never approached the property owners. Instead they went straight to the municipality asking for eminent domain.
 

Repo Man

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SGB said:
In all three cases cited in the 60 Minutes story, the property market never even became a direct consideration, so-to-speak. Those interested in redevelopment never approached the property owners. Instead they went straight to the municipality asking for eminent domain.

That is what happened with the Ace hardware example in Arizona. The owner of Ace never approcahed the brake shop guy, he just went to the City and asked them to help.

Developer's like this for 2 reasons. First, they don't seem like the bad guy. It makes the City seem like the bully, not the developer. Also, when the City gets involved the developers know the City will foot the bill for all of the necessary infrastructure improvements using a TIF, saving the developers millions.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

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Seabishop said:
.....No one would demolish an entire minority neighborhood now - but just because it would look bad. ....

I disagree, its called gentrification.

It's cheaper than using any other method and almost as fast. It can be encouraged and suported with upgrades to basic infrastructure. The undesirables are forced out or paid off with a pittance of the real value.

It's still PC because the first places to go are abandoned or brown fields. The rest is just follow the leaders.

As an example, I will cite the neighborhoods surounding the CBD area of Columbus, OH (German Village, Brewery District Area, Fifth Avenue Commission Area, and Milo Grogan Commission Area).

Good or bad is another discussion
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
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Duke Of Dystopia said:
I disagree, its called gentrification.

I didn't know demolition went hand-in-hand with gentrification. There's a difference bewteen property managers from the private sector that raise rents with new leases and the government policy-makers that want to purchase private property and transfer it to their favored donors.
 

Cardinal

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Seabishop said:
Stuff like this makes people distrust the Planning profession.

I'll find some fault with this statement. It is very rare for the planners to be the ones pushing eminent domain. The politicians are the ones who want the big, flashy projects and the attorneys are the ones conducting the proceedings. Planners are caught in the middle.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
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3,838
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25
Cardinal said:
I'll find some fault with this statement. It is very rare for the planners to be the ones pushing eminent domain. The politicians are the ones who want the big, flashy projects and the attorneys are the ones conducting the proceedings. Planners are caught in the middle.

True, but when planners want cooperation with some new redevelopment plan the public will be suspicious. I've also known planners who really like to waive the eminent domain wand.
 

MayDay

Member
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19
Points
1
Just some follow-up and insight to this post. I used to live in Lakewood, Ohio and I'm very familiar with the area in question.

The mayor who committed the cardinal sin of looking bad on camera was indeed voted out. Ironically, her replacement ALSO supported the developer's stance - however, the general mood is that the former mayor didn't handle the press or the pressure appropriately.

Relating to the eminent domain issue - a proposal by the opposition (that ALL future eminent domain proposals be subject to a citywide vote) was defeated.

The actual vote relating to the eminent domain issue? It was defeated. By 39 votes - a recount is likely simply because of the narrow margin.

What people might not understand about the issue is that the area in question does not solely consist of charming, well-kept older homes (as 60 Minutes would have you believe). Three eight-story apartment buildings occupy the prime spot that commands a sweeping view of the park and river valley (as well as somewhat obstructed views of Lake Erie). They were constructed on top of what used to be the intra-urban turnaround in the 1960s and typical of the era, are atrocious beige-brick blocks which add little to the area. Perhaps more important, the apartment buildings cater to a lower-end demographic (rent for a one-bedroom is around $300-$400 per month, in many cases subsidized). I personally believe that those buildings are what first led the developers to set their sights on Lakewood's West End.

To give you some perspective - this image shows the area in question. The section to the LEFT of the river is Lakewood's West End, where you can see the apartment buildings and their layout following the curve of the Rocky River. The area to the right of the river is the affluent 'burb of Rocky River (named after the river shown in the photo).
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
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Hey MiMi, quit scaring me, signed Drew.;)

-BOT And I thought emminent domain was the same, I guess it bears its ugly head everywhere at a different level, although this proposal is not ligite.
 
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