It’s not often a film comes out dealing with eminent domain issues. You may remember when Avatar came out, my partner Rick Rayl and our esteemed colleague Gideon Kanner had a nice back-and-forth spar about whether the film had anything to do with eminent domain. (Rick ended up buying Professor Kanner a movie ticket in the hopes of changing his mind.)
Well, there can be no dispute about the eminent domain context in the recent documentary "Battle for Brooklyn," which follows a man’s fight to save his Atlantic Yards neighborhood from condemnation for the New Jersey Nets’ new basketball arena. And the documentary is making its west coast swing, opening here in Los Angeles this weekend.
If you’re in the right of way industry, this is a must see. Or, if you simply like tales of David versus Goliath, go get yourself a movie ticket. If you’re not sold, take a look at the Los Angeles Times’ movie review. Better yet, give Indiewire’s review a read. (How’s this for a statement: "Atlantic Yards using eminent domain is the sort of precedent that could change how development happens in this country, wherever you live.") Time it right, and you may partake in the question and answer session with the film makers and the man who led the battle cry.
Do public agencies make low-ball offers? Are areas that are designated as "blighted" really so? Is eminent domain for redevelopment "Un-American"? Is there any point to fighting City Hall? No matter how you feel, this movie may evoke some strong emotions. If you can’t make it to see the documentary, but want to know more, I’d suggest checking out Robert Thomas’ inversecondemnation.com blog post covering the case in detail.
Enjoy your weekend!