Sunday, October 09, 2005

Eminent Domain Part II

Washington DC is the next city to take advantage of that deplorable SCOTUS ruling we are calling Eminent Domain. The Washington Times reports this:

The District will begin using eminent domain to acquire parcels of land at the site of the Washington Nationals' ballpark by the end of this month, after unsuccessful negotiations with nearly half of the landowners.

The article goes on to say they have $97 million set aside to buy the properties and help landowners relocate. “The city made offers to all 23 landowners on the site last month but received no response from 10...Many property owners on the site said the city's offers are inadequate.”


That’s a lot of money for 23 landowners, isn’t it? That comes out to over 4.2 million apiece. 23 landowners on 21 acres. Not real large properties after you discount the area covered by streets and driveways and houses. It doesn’t sound to me, at 23 landowners on only 21 total acres, that there are millionaires living in those houses.

That kind of makes me wish I was a landowner in Washington DC.

I wonder if those 10 landowners aren’t responding because they don’t want to move. I wonder why they would turn down over 4 million. Could there be more to the story?

(Back in Wichita, there is a large sprawling nursing home on the cities west side that has a quaint little yellow cottage smack dab in the middle of the complex. I thought it was the residence of the manager of the home, but I found out that it was owned by an elderly woman, who simply refused to sell when the care home was buying up all the property in the area in order to build there. So they built the home around her.)

Is there a difference between this case of eminent domain and the one in Riviera Beach, Florida?

I think there is.

In Florida, dozens of poor people are in danger of being displaced so private developers can build a yacht club and condominiums. In DC, they are being offered a hefty sum of money to move so the city can build a new baseball stadium. I haven’t heard how much the city of Riviera Beach is offering the people for their homes.

The difference is in the word “private”. Homes are being taken and handed over to private developers in one instance and landowners will be moved to provide a place for public use in the other.

Private use versus public use.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t what DC is doing constitutional before the Kelo decision?

Now, before you accuse me of being one of those evil Republicans that don’t care about poor people, consider this:

The fact is, the 5th amendment to the Constitution reads thusly:

“No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;
nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”

The law is clear. This is not, in this case, another Riviera Beach. Now, if a humble, uneducated blogger like me can interpret the constitution, is there any doubt Miss Harriet Miers can?

Ok, maybe it stinks, but as long as due process of law is followed, I think 4.2 million dollars can be considered “just compensation“, therefore this case doesn’t fall under the Kelo decision.


Erudite Redneck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erudite Redneck said...

You're not going to play fair? You're going to be a jerk? I'm not going to play at all.



tugboatcapn said...

What the heck was that??
(Tug is puzzled...)

Mark, I think you hit the nail on the head.
As long as due process is followed, and Just Compensation is offered, Constitutionally, the Government can take whatever they want.

But I have a question...
If it is legal for the Supreme Court to interperate the Constitution they way that they did in the Kelo case, then wasn't due process followed? And followed and followed all the way to the Supreme Court?

Does the phrase "Due Process" mean that I am wrong to question the propriety of the decision of the Court in the Kelo case?


Mark said...

I don't think due process was followed in the Kelo decision. I think the court overstepped their bounds with that one. The constitution says that government can take land for public use and the Kelo decision was about taking it for private use. At least that's the way I see it.

Goat said...

As John Roberts said in his confirmation hearings it is simply up to the people and their reps to pass laws blocking it,not that hard to do as property owners are the major voting bloc.Kelo will be overturned.

rich bachelor said...

Well, Kelo might not be overturned, though. It is already federal law (for some reason), and even though property owners tend to be the ones who vote, states' rights have been often countervened by federal law in the last fifteen years, as well.
And why the SCOTUS ever even heard the case at all is a mystery to me. Eminent Domain was only supposed to apply to public development, and now the floodgates are open.
If I misused the word "countervened" up above, pardon.

Mark said...

If you rent, don't think you are safe. Someone owns the property so it's just as much in danger of being taken as private property. Maybe more so depending on the value of the location.