Posts tagged Kelo.
Posted in Court Decisions

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 ...

There has been a lot of news lately concerning President Trump’s desire to build a border wall. Many of the articles focus on the efficacy, costs and practical challenges of building the wall.  But the discussions are also starting to move into our world of eminent domain.  An Op Ed piece in the Washington Post  talks about Donald Trump’s Great Wall of Eminent Domain and mentions that 67 percent of the nearly 2,000 border miles constitute private and state-owned lands. The Daily Beast published an article called The Great Wall of Trump Would Be the Ultimate Eminent Domain Horror Show ...

Posted in New Legislation

Once again, I sit at my desk wondering how all of this happened.  For more than a decade, I worked as an eminent domain attorney in utter obscurity; I'm not even sure my family knew what eminent domain was.  But then the City of New London, Connecticut tried to take Ms. Kelo's little pink house, and everything changed.  Since the Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo decision, eminent domain has become a mainstream topic, coming up in late night talk show skits, and now, taking center stage in the Republican presidential race.

At last Saturday's debate, the use of eminent domain turned into a firestorm of ...

Posted in Events

If you happen to be in Austin this week, stop by and see me at the ALI-ABA Eminent Domain Conference.  It starts Thursday, January 28 and runs through Saturday.  I'll be speaking Thursday afternoon on the condemnation of privately-held utility companies -- an issue that's certainly been in the press here in California recently.  I'll be speaking with Christopher Clough of Barron & Adler in Austin, and he's been "in the trenches" on a number of utility-company condemnation issues in Texas.

Aside from my session, there will be a lot of good presentations, including a national eminent domain ...

Posted in Events

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 ...

Posted in Right to Take

The House of Representatives has once again resurrected the "Private Property Rights Protection Act" (HR 1944), a bill that would limit the power of eminent domain on a nationwide scale.  I say once again, because as we reported in 2012 (see January 26, 2012 post by Brad Kuhn), the House Judiciary Committee approved a nearly identical bill by an overwhelming 23-5 vote, only to have the bill languish on the House floor.  The vote this time around, however, was nowhere near as emphatic, as the bill barely passed out of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice with a skimpy 5-3 ...

This underwater mortgage / eminent domain issue does not appear to be going away any time soon.  Along with eminent domain attorneys Robert Thomas from Hawaii, Casey Pipes from Alabama, and Tom Olsen from New Jersey, I spoke last Friday at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago -- one of the cities apparently considering the plan.  The presentation itself did not focus on the underwater mortgage plan, but many of the questions at the end did.  Indeed, the issue generated more buzz in the room, by far, than any other.

This week, the news is that the Federal Housing Finance Agency ("FHFA") has ...

Posted in Projects

Here's a quick update about some recent headlines in our eminent domain community.

  • Eminent Domain for New School in Foster City?  According to a Mercury News article, Charter Square owners resistant to selling property to school district, the San Mateo-Foster City School District is looking for a site for a new school, and it may turn to eminent domain to acquire the Charter Square Shopping Center.  Moving forward with the new school depends on the passage of a $130 million bond measure in June.  If it goes forward, more than a dozen businesses will need to be relocated.
  • Orinda to Condemn ...
Posted in Projects

The debate over the extensions of some of the Bush-era tax cuts have been making national news for some time.  It's splattered all over the newspaper and has its own running commentary on the political talk shows. 

But today, there's a different twist for those of us who deal with eminent domain.  Congress is debating the extension of the payroll taxes yet again, but this time, a major eminent domain issue is wrapped up in the fray.

Specifically, Republicans in Congress had said they planned to couple the extension of the tax cuts with a requirement to fast-track approval of a ...

Posted in Court Decisions

When we think of some of the most well-recognized and controversial decisions from our judicial system, cases like Roe v. Wade (abortion) and Dred Scott v. Sandford (slavery) come to mind.  Within our group of right of way professionals, we obviously think Kelo v. City of New London is a huge deal, as it allows for the use of eminent domain for purely economic purposes.  But does it rank up there with the others?  It does, according to US Supreme Court Justice Scalia.

According to an ABA Journal article, Justice Scalia was recently speaking to a group of students at Chicago-Kent School of Law ...

Posted in Events

Six years ago, the US Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Kelo v. City of New London, affirming the government's ability to exercise eminent domain for purely economic purposes.  The public backlash and media firestorm surrounding the decision turned our quirky group of eminent domain attorneys into rock stars for a short moment in time.  Ms. Kelo's battle was put to print in Jeff Benedict's Little Pink House:  A True Story of Defiance and Courage, and it now appears the infamous case is making its way to your television. 

According to a Hartford Courant ...

As originally reported by Robert Thomas at inversecondemnation.com, a petition for certiorari was filed asking the U.S. Supreme Court to address "[w]hat category of takings are subject to heightened judicial scrutiny, and when is the risk of undetected favoritism so acute that an exercise of eminent domain can be presumed invalid?"  While Justice Kennedy brought this issue to the national stage when he raised the possibility of such conduct in a recent concurrence, as of today, and likely tomorrow, the question remains unanswered. 

In Kelo v. City of New ...

The case involving a small boxing gym in National City, California, has garnered national media attention.  The owner filed suit challenging National City's redevelopment plan for, among other things, failing to follow California's post-Kelo rules on making blight determinations. 

We reported on the case last month in A More Personal View of the Redevelopment Fight from National City.  The trial ended a few weeks ago, and the parties have been anxiously waiting for a decision ever since.  Late yesterday, the court issued its decision, ruling in favor of plaintiffs.  According to ...

A January 27 article in California Watch, "Eminent domain battles rage on despite Prop. 99," reflects the ongoing confusion that surrounds the efforts to reform eminent domain in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo decision

The article's premise is that Proposition 99, approved by California's voters in 2008, did not stop what the author describes as "eminent domain abuse."  But the case example that underlies the article reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about what Proposition 99 does (or does not do), and what people typically mean when they talk of "eminent ...

Ever since the Supreme Court issued its infamous 2005 Kelo decision, people have been anxiously awaiting the Court's next opportunity to weigh in on the extent of the government's eminent domain authority and, in particular, the limits (if any) created by the "public use" requirement. 

One of the cases that has been watched closely involves efforts to expand Columbia University in New York.  In Tuck-It-Away, Inc. v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, dba Empire State Development Corporation, the New York State Urban Development Corporation sought to condemn ...

Posted in Redevelopment

Proposed changes to California's redevelopment law have been quietly making their way through the California legislature.  With little publicity, AB 2531, authored by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, made its way through the process this summer.  After a series of amendments, AB 2531 was passed by California's Senate on August 12 by a vote of 22-13.  On August 27, it passed California's Assembly, 50-26.

On September 10, the bill was presented to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for signature.  Under the California legislative process, the Governor has until September 30 to sign or veto ...

Posted in Right to Take

Five years ago today, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Kelo v. City of New London, triggering perhaps the most broad sweeping eminent domain reform effort in U.S. history, along with tremendous critical commentary -- including, as just one example, an August 2005 piece on Forbes.com titled Eminent Disaster.

Quite frankly, I'm a bit bored by the decision after five years (I can't begin to count the number of times I've explained the decision and what it means to clients, at seminars and conferences, and on this blog).  However, others are marking the occasion with ...

One of the big issues in eminent domain over the past five years has been the role of blight in justifying eminent domain for redevelopment purposes.  The seminal decision (that started all the ruckus) -- Kelo v. City of New London -- involved the use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes where the city did not even pretend it was acting to eliminate blight.

Kelo had little direct impact on California's eminent domain law, because even before the Supreme Court issued its opinion in 2005, California's law allowed eminent domain for redevelopment purposes only upon a proper showing ...

Posted in Right to Take

Last week was a fairly slow week for California eminent domain news, but I came across an article about a case that seems interesting enough to warrant a brief discussion, even if it has no direct application in California. 

Fronteer Gold, apparently a Canadian-owned company with a division formed under Delaware law, is seeking to condemn property in Nevada to help implement its plans for the Long Canyon gold mine

You might wonder how a private company, under Canadian ownership, can condemn property from private owners in Nevada.  Apparently, Nevada law contains a provision that ...

In its April 2010 volume, the Yale Law Journal published a Note by Zachary Hudson titled Eminent Domain Due Process.  My first reaction was a bit odd.  Having spent many years as a practicing eminent domain lawyer, I rarely get the opportunity to spend time with pure, academic writing.  Just reading the Note instantly took me back many years to long hours spent in a small dark room at Boalt Hall (before all the improvements), trying to make sure all the hyper-technical "Blue Book" rules were being followed as I slaved away as Associate Editor of the California Law Review.  (It still ...

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.

Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute published this week an article about the economics of eminent domain for economic development (i.e., for redevelopment purposes) entitled "This Land Ain’t your Land; this Land Is my Land."  I found the piece interesting, despite the fact that it seemed the author started from the conclusion "eminent domain is bad" and worked backwards crafting an analysis to get there. 

Ultimately, however, Mr. Scribner does provide some interesting insight.  He does not simply come out and say eminent domain for economic development is ...

Posted in Right to Take

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 ...

Posted in Right to Take

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:

  1. The "acquisition" was being handled by a private company ...

Sierra Madre will allow its citizens to decide whether the city can use the power of eminent domain for private purposes.  According to a Pasadena Star-News article, "Sierra Madre resident[s] will vote on eminent domain," the city council agreed to put a proposed measure on the April 2010 ballot which would prevent the city from (1) condemning property and turning it over to a private developer, and (2) funding or cooperating with any other city agency using eminent domain (such as the Redevelopment Agency).

According to the article, City councilman John Buchanan is ...

Everyone knows the sad tale of America's automotive industry:  companies operating only through government subsidies and dealerships shutting their doors across the country.  So when the City of Vista came up with a plan to "create a second downtown car dealership and boost sales tax revenue," one would think the public would embrace it. 

But like many bold plans, this one has a wrinkle.  While most of the property needed to facilitate the plan is available for purchase, including the existing North County Ford site, one additional parcel is needed.  

According to North County Times ...

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 ...

Posted in Right to Take

Why would this (or any other) blog need another post about Kelo v. City of New London.  It probably doesn't, which is why this will be short. 

But, for anyone who still wants more of the story behind Kelo, the soon-to-be-closed Pfizer facility, or the heated arguments they engender, the New YorK Times ran an extended piece, A Turning Point for Eminent Domain? on November 12 that contains a number of different, high-level views on the subject.  (It also contains plenty of less than high-level views, as the story had generated 55 comments within just a few hours of its posting.) 

And, for anyone ...

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 an October 31 article for the North County Times, "VISTA: City wants to redevelop motel property," reporter Cigi Ross writes about the City of Vista's plans to acquire a motel property as part of a plan to redevelop the area:

The owner of a downtown Vista motel is accusing the city of trying to kick him out of his business and his home.

City officials announced Monday they're trying to purchase the Vista Riviera Motel as part of a redevelopment project along Vista Village Drive and Vista Way that could include a new car dealership. 

While the City's efforts currently involve a voluntary acquisition, the owner has already said that he does not want to sell, raising the possibility that the City could acquire the property through eminent domain.   Though this situation raises the specter of the often criticized Kelo decision, the situation is different, in that Vista's stated motivation in acquiring the property is to eliminate blight, a motivation missing in the Kelo case

Posted in Right to Take

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 ...

California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain in California. We cover all aspects of eminent domain in California, including condemnation, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings. We also keep track of current cases, project announcements, budget issues, legislative reform efforts, and report on all major California eminent domain conferences and seminars.

Stay Connected

RSS RSS Feed

Categories

Archives

View All Nossaman Blogs
Jump to Page

We use cookies on this website to improve functionality, enhance performance, analyze website traffic and to enable social media features.  To learn more, please see our Privacy Policy and our Terms & Conditions for additional detail.