Tuesday, June 28, 2005

This Land Was Your Land And Now It's My Land...

Woody Guthrie turned over in his grave last week, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-4 to expand upon eminent domain. The decision allows a city government to set up a purchase of land owned by one party for a developer who will use the land to create more tax revenue for the city. This means that if you own a piece of land and it just so happens to look nice to mall developer, you will have to give it up for a fair price.

Ratified in 1791, the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that one shall not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But just what is "just compensation?" When someone sues a party for emotional distress and psychological damage, is that inclusive in just compensation? Is the fact that your family has owned a piece of land for generations paid separately for the history their family has with that parcel? How are you compensated if that is the closest place to your job and you now have to drive a half-hour or more to work instead of walking? If several homes are leveled, that would mean that there are less on the market which increases the demand and price of homes in that area.

I have found it comedic that when friends of mine have heard about this decision they blamed big business for pushing for this. Yet, conservative judges fought against it. Meanwhile, someone has already announced their intentions to use this new decision against one of the judges that voted for it.

9 comments:

Vavoom said...

It was a preposterous ruling. Angering, really. I can't come and force you to sell me your house. Suddenly, if I start a big corporation... let's call it Vavoomart, I can pay off a couple of local politicians and enjoy wrecking your home. By the way, we will sell baskets to put shoes in over at Vavoomart, if that's any consolation.

Moose said...

I wish I could say that I was surprised by this, but I'm not. Some communities have used eminent domain to shove people out of their homes so someone else can build more expensive homes that generate more tax revenue.

Miss Hobby said...

They've been doin this around my hometown for years because the politicians feel it would benifit out community to become a "college town". So, anything the University wants, the University gets. Sometimes they offer enough for the homes, sometimes they don't, but no one in my area has the money to fight against it.

I would have a cow. The only thing I could think of is if you're goin to make an offer on my home, one I've owned and lived in forever, somethin I've spent time investing in for my children's future, you better offer me what it's worth given it's location now, what it will cost me to purchase land and build the EXACT same house on that land, AND I want a refund on all the property taxes (which are outrageous nowadays) that I've paid over the years in the investment I've made in my home. Seems fair to me.

Lily said...

You can just add this to the list of things that make me embarrassed to be a US citizen in 2005.

I sincerely hope that Clements gets his ok to build his hotel on Souter's land, it would be poetic justice.

Jenn said...

Yeah, I read about this in someone else's blog. Kurt's I believe.

Like I told him, I have nothing to say. Anger is an understatement.

God Bless the US Supreme Court.

RT said...

Abuse of eminent domain has been going on for years. I remember first hearing about it in the early 90's when the MGM wanted to take over some property to build it's theme park. I was outraged then, and I'm outraged when I hear it's being abused now.

This is besides the point, but how much extra revenue is going to be brought in by a mall in an area that already has so many malls? How much more revenue did the theme park bring in than the hotels and private homes that once stood there?

I can see two very big problems happening here:

1. There are not many ways for a homeowner to fight this, so there's nothing stopping the big corporations from -basically- coming in and taking over ALL privately owned land. With the way they're allowed to manipulate the law, it's entirely possible.

2. What happens to the land once the project goes bust? It doesn't go back to the original owner, it goes to the corporation, who is then free to sell the land back to the public at inflated prices.

Do you see where I'm going with this? It's friggin' scary what our govt. is allowing to happen! I may sound paranoid, but if there were ever a time for us to support our second amendment...

Oh, and by the way, ask anyone who has had their home taken away if they were paid a "fair price". And ask them what happened to that price if they tried to fight it.

LoraLoo said...

Every previous comment has said it all. It is definitely embarassing as a US citizen.

Las Vegas government and big business has been manipulating people out of their homes since the dawn of this city for expansion. Only now it's completely legal.

thc said...

By the way, Arlo Guthrie is not dead. Perhaps you meant his father, Woody.

An80sNut said...

oopsie. B)