I’m not familiar with the laws on eminent domain in Washington State, but an article in the New York Times about new laws to limit eminent domain struck me as interesting. Eminent domain law means a lot to folks involved in real estate as it is often used to dramatically overhaul neighborhoods. It is almost unquestionable that it is a necessary evil, but the specific rules and regulations around it can get into sticky issues like declaring an area “blighted” and condemning low income housing.
The outcry has given heart to property-rights advocates. “We lost the Supreme Court case, but we’re ultimately going to win in changing the way that eminent domain is going to be used in this country,” said Dana Berliner, a senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, the most prominent advocacy group.
Eminent domain is important, though:
But around the country, developers and city officials say weakening or destroying the power to condemn property will seriously undermine efforts to rehabilitate decaying cities and might even hinder the rebuilding of New Orleans. Without eminent domain, the Inner Harbor, which played an essential role in Baltimore’s success in building its tourist industry, could not have been redeveloped, said Ralph S. Tyler, the city solicitor.
If Washington doesn’t act to justify or tweak the eminent domain process, I’d put decent odds on a Tim Eyman-backed initiative to restrict eminent domain law. Ohio is ahead of the game:
In a more cautious vein, Ohio has effectively denied state funding for one year to private projects in nonblighted areas that involve condemnation. The state also created a bipartisan task force to study the issue. “Ohio is saying, ‘We need some breathing space,’ ” Mr. Morandi, of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said.
It’s really too bad that most state governments don’t follow this cautious approach instead of reacting once a situation goes bad.
I suggest consulting David Pogue’s How to Be a Curmudgeon on the Internet for suggestions on how to comment on posts. The comments at Rain City Guide have been far too civil and substantial.