Taming Eminent Domain
Shelterforce, Spring 2008
5 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2008
Date Written: September 20, 2008
This short essay was published by Shelterforce, the journal of affordable of housing and community development published by the National Housing Institute. It is largely taken from my law review article entitled 'We Shall Not Be Moved': Eminent Domain, Urban Redevelopment and the Socioeconomics of Just Compensation published by St. John's Law Review. That article can be downloaded from SSRN at http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=904224.
This shorter piece focuses on the two proposals outlined in the second part of the law review article that are designed to curb abuses of eminent domain in the urban redevelopment context without destroying its effectiveness as a tool for community revitalization and, even, community empowerment. Specifically, homeowners should not be subject to eminent domain pursuant to a redevelopment plan until the majority of them have approved the plan. To further solidify resident ownership of redevelopment, the right to continued residency in the community should be protected by amending relocation laws to guarantee an alienable entitlement to be offered replacement housing in the redeveloped district area. Together, these two legislative reforms express a more nuanced balance of property and liability rules that will facilitate a more productive interface between community residents and redevelopment officials.
Keywords: eminent domain, urban redevelopment, relocation, displacement, Urban Renewal, community empowerment
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