Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Three Years Later: Still No Eminent Doman Reform

It was over 40 years ago that Herbert Gans chronicled the destruction of Boston's West End through so-called "urban renewal" in The Urban Villagers. The neighborhood had been home to thousands of working class Italian families when it was declared "blighted," taken by eminent domain and razed by the city. It is now home to luxury condos.

In 2005, the Supreme Court took up its first eminent domain case in decades with Kelo v. New London. The court ruled that the government can take people's land and hand it over to private developers just with the vague promise of "economic development" for the area. States across the country quickly reacted in horror and passed their own legislation limiting eminent domain.

Massachusetts was not one of those states. State Representative Marty Walz is now attempting to get legislation passed, but it looks like it is being stalled in the Senate. Local politicians predict doom and gloom if the legislation is passed, but studies have shown that just ain't so. In fact, another studied has shown that poor minorities are most likely to be victims of these land grabs.

So where exactly is the "public good" here? Is there someone out there who can explain and defend the use of eminent domain for me?

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