Eminent Domain: Is it "Out of Control?"
November 21st, 2006

Opponents of eminent domain are vastly overstating how common it is, Errol Louis writes in his column in the Daily News today.

The Institute for Justice, which Louis describes as a “conservative, Washington-based legal group”, says it has documented over 10,000 wrongful uses of eminent domain between 1998 and 2002; Louis says that this number was generated by a “quick and dirty count” of press accounts of times that officials said eminent domain might be used. There was no attempt, he writes, to find out if such statements led to the actual use of eminent domain.

The opponents of Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn are now using these same numbers to (inaccurately) argue that eminent domain is out of control, according to Louis.

No Land Grab, one of the anti-Atlantic Yards blogs, responds here.

By on November 21, 2006, 3:36 pm
In category: Gotham City,Land Use | 5 Comments »

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5 Responses to “Eminent Domain: Is it "Out of Control?"”

  1. Larry Littlefield Says:
    November 22nd, 2006 at 8:48 am

    In New York eminent domain was out of control in the 1950s, when whole neighborhoods were torn down to build new housing developments.

    Nimbyism subsequently got out of control, with opposition to anything new anywhere.

    I’d say that at present we are in an unusual period of balance. But as the vehemence with which Atlantic Yards is being debated shows, either eminent domain or Nimbyism could very well get out of control in the next few years if either pro- or anti-redevelopment ideologues and interests gain unchecked power.

  2. essence Says:
    November 22nd, 2006 at 9:27 am

    Okay, let’s say that you are in favor of the reasonable use of eminent domain. You think that ED was used for great public benefit in the creation of Lincoln Center and the rebirth of 42nd Street. Do you really want Ratner’s 6,000 luxury units to be the shining example of ED gone awry? Ratner’s project would completely eliminate the population of people earning less than $25,000 in his footprint- is that the public benefit you want eminent domain used for?

  3. Larry Littlefield Says:
    November 22nd, 2006 at 11:09 am

    (Do you really want Ratners 6,000 luxury units to be the shining example of ED gone awry?)

    I don’t think eminent domain should be used for the housing, and I don’t think given the changing market much of it will be built anyway. Ratner is going to have to come up with another way to cross-subsidize the arena, perhaps hotel and office space built in close proximity.

    An arena or other large gathering place is best sited at a transit hub, and there is no way to do so without eminent domain given the large site it requires. But housing can be built without eminent domain, on individual lots.

    The problem is, I believe those who are fighting the development are in the arena footprint. And apparently Ratner still believes the condos would sell for enough to pay for the arena and subsidized units. So this reasonable/unreasonable distinction would satisfy no one.

  4. D.M. Says:
    November 22nd, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Honestly the people opposing Atlantic Yards are not Nimby. They are Anti Ratner as in Bruce Ratner who is trying to create his real estate empire all around the city. The Developer who has a hard on for eminent domain,Hard on as in Most of his big developments abuse eminent domain, and the jobs promised are usually 1,000 less than advertised. Those guys opposing him came up with 3 to 4 alternate developments proposals, Even one with an arena. Not to mention Bloomy,Pataki,Ratner and AKRF still have not come up with a real reason why an arena was not developed next to Keyspan Park in Coney Island.Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush avenue is gridlock city. Reason alone to not develop an arena in that part of town.
    However if you do build Ratners garbage proposal in that neighborhood, You are going to encourage the real NIMBY and Dont Develop anything crowd.

  5. Blair Hawkins Says:
    November 24th, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    “over 10,000 wrongful uses of eminent domain between 1998 and 2002; Louis says that this number was generated by a quick and dirty count of press accounts”

    The 10,000 is a minimum, from press accounts only. For example, the city council in my town (Charlottesville, Va.) threatened eminent domain Monday night. No newspaper has yet reported it. It’s the top story on my blog.

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