Los Angeles (November 15, 2007) – Buoyed by the Supreme Court’s dubious Kelo decision, governments are increasingly abusing eminent domain to take homes and small businesses so private developers can build malls, condos and office complexes.
In his latest Reason.tv video, Drew Carey takes an in-depth look at one such example of “eminent domain gone wild.” A boxing gym that takes at-risk kids off the streets and helps turn their lives around might be great for the community, but it doesn’t generate the tax revenue that luxury condos would. So National City’s government teamed with private developers to plot the Community Youth Athletic Center’s demise and replace it with high-rise condos. Reason.tv shows Ron Morrison, mayor of National City, saying the gym has tried to “sensationalize this as if the city is doing something bad to you.”
“The mayor’s statement shows exactly what is plaguing this country and why eminent domain abuse is so rampant. Too many politicians haven’t read the Constitution and don’t see anything wrong with taking land from you or me so they can hand it over to someone else to rake in more tax money,” said Adrian Moore, vice president of research at Reason Foundation. “We’re not talking about using eminent domain to build a school or vital freeway here. The mayor wanted to bulldoze a perfectly good gym that provides invaluable help to low-income kids, and the community, so that rich people could get richer. It’s disgraceful.”
Amidst the public backlash and groundswell of support for the gym, the developer did an about-face late this summer, saying the gym could stay and the condos would be built around it.
End of story? Not quite. The developer’s promises aren’t legally binding and the city has designated the gym, and 700 other properties, as “blighted.” As such, National City claims it has the power to use that “blighted” designation to condemn the gym anytime in the next decade. So instead of living in constant fear, the gym and Institute for Justice have filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s power to use “blight” and eminent domain.
Full Video Online
National City: Eminent Domain Gone Wild, hosted by Drew Carey, is available online at: http://reason.tv/video/show/56.html.
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