Many states have enacted eminent domain reform since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, which broadly defined "public use" to include the government's acquiring property for another private owner to realize an economic benefit (such as increasing tax revenues). However, as reported by the Institute for Justice in its 50 States Report Card, many of those reform efforts have been insignificant. And, despite repeated efforts over the last 13 years, Congress has yet to pass legislation limiting the use of eminent domain for truly ...
This week marks the nine-year anniversary of the Kelo v. City of New London decision. Since I've been practicing as an eminent domain attorney, Kelo is unquestionably the most well-known and stirring court opinion, creating widespread reform to the use of eminent domain across the country -- even on the opposite coast in California. Last time I checked, about 45 states had passed some sort of eminent domain reform in response to the Kelo decision.
If you're interested in learning more about the Kelo decision, stay tuned for the film Little Pink House, which is being produced in ...
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 ...
Next week, I'm speaking at the IRWA Chapter 67 Spring Seminar, which is focused on renewable energy issues. So it was pretty timely when I came across an article this week involving efforts in Wyoming to curtail eminent domain power to address that state's push for increased renewable energy.
According to a Casper Star-Tribune article by Dustin Bleizeffer, Wind boom inspires another look at state's eminent domain laws: Crossing private property, Wyoming has seen a wave of efforts to use eminent domain to acquire right of way for "collector lines," used to connect wind turbines to ...
After a flurry of post-Kelo activity, cries for eminent domain reform seem to have quieted in California in the past couple of years. Now, public utility companies are seeking to step into the calm in an effort to roll back some of the reforms that did occur.
One of the recent changes to California eminent domain law involves the procedures for obtaining prejudgment possession. Before Kelo, agencies could almost guarantee possession quickly. In fact, they could obtain orders for possession ex parte, meaning they didn't even have to provide owners with notice that they were seeking possession. Under those rules, by the time an owner learned that an eminent domain case had been filed, the order for possession was often already signed.
In 2006, the California Legislature passed SB 1210, which changed the prejudgment possession process. In particular, it
- Extended dramatically the time it takes to get possession (it now takes more than 120 days for occupied property);
- Ensured property owners would receive ample notice before a court considered a motion for possession; and
- Created a new balancing test that required courts to balance hardships in determining whether or not to grant an agency prejudgment possession.
Public utility companies are now looking for a partial exemption from these new rules. Assembly Bill 2162, introduced February 18, 2010, by Assemblyman Niello, would allow public utilities to obtain prejudgment possession orders ex parte when immediate possession will not displace or unreasonably affect any person in lawful possession of the property’s surface estate.
AB 2162 had been set for a hearing before the Utilities & Commerce Committee on March 22, but on March 17, the Bill was amended, and yesterday it was referred back to the Committee. It is not yet clear how much momentum the Bill has, and no hearing date has been set. We'll let you know what happens.
In December, we reported on Sierra Madre's decision to allow voters to decide whether the City should possess the power to condemn property for redevelopment purposes. On April 13, 2010, voters will decide the issue by ratifying or rejecting City Ordinance 1304, but for now, the measure has triggered some colorful debate.
On February 27, Susan Henderson offered a Mountain View News article "Eminent Domain Measure -- Yes or No?" She purports to analyze the measure in the broader context of recent eminent-domain-reform efforts, including California's Proposition 99, passed in ...
A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to see Avatar. With two young kids, we rarely see movies in the theaters, and we picked this one based on its advertised special effects, not any belief that it was the "best" movie among our choices.
As I watched, I never really thought of it as an expression of outrage over eminent domain abuse. Looking around the Internet, however, the movie seems to have been picked up by eminent domain reformists as a big budget example of eminent domain gone bad. But is it, really? Let's look at some facts:
- The "acquisition" was being handled by a private company ...
It seems most commentators on eminent domain generally, and on the use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes in particular, adopt an extreme stance. The loudest voices, especially in the "post-Kelo" world, tend to be property-rights advocates who denounce virtually any use of eminent domain, especially for redevelopment purposes.
A good example of this appears in a recent San Diego News Network article by Brian Peterson, president of the Grantville Action Group: "What we Learned at a Redevelopment Conference: Don't do E-mail." The article summarizes two ...
The impetus for one of the most infamous eminent domain cases in U.S. history was the City of New London, Connecticut's efforts to utilize a massive Pfizer plant as the basis to revitalize the surrounding area. (The common myth that Pfizer was itself the intended beneficiary of the Kelo property is not correct.)
The decision, Kelo v. City of New London, triggered a nationwide backlash against eminent domain when the Supreme Court ruled that economic growth, by itself, qualifies as a public purpose sufficient to satisy the right to take property by eminent domain.
The tale of what followed around the county has been well documented. Many states passed eminent domain reform in the wake of the Kelo decision. Less well known is the story of what happend to the "little pink house" at the center of the controversy. Recently, we reported that the area has not been revitilized as the City of New London imagined.
Now, another turn of events suggests the revitiliztion may be nothing more than a pipe dream. Today, Pfizer announced that it is shutting down its 1,400-employee New London facility, creating real doubt that new development is anywhere on the horizon. In short, leaving aside the debate about the wisdom of the Supreme Court ruling, the Kelo story and its aftermath certainly doesn't seem headed for a happy ending any time soon.
Photo credit: Historic Buildings of Connecticut
In June 2005, the United States Supreme Court issued its now infamous decision in Kelo v. City of New London. That decision made eminent domain and condemnation household terms (imagine my shock at hearing my previously unknown, niche area of practice discussed in normal, day-to-day conversations). The decision sparked tremendous controversy, as the Court ruled that the City of New London, Connecticut could condemn properties for redevelopment purposes for purely economic reasons.
In other words, the City did not even pretend that it was acting to eliminate blight (the ...
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