July 5, 2005


Property seizure backlash: State and federal lawmakers consider new limits on takings in the wake of court decision. (Adam Karlin, 7/06/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

In Lodi, N.J., hundreds of trailer park residents may soon be squatters if the city decides their homes are hurting land values.

In East Baltimore, the Baltimore Development Corp. wants to turn 2,000 largely vacant properties into a biotech park.

In New London, Conn., a cluster of homes will be bulldozed to make way for hotels and health clubs.

Such seizures of private property, while not new, are drawing new controversy.

The June 23 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Kelo v. City of New London has emboldened those who support the taking of private land for public use - even when local governments are doing so to foster private development. But the same decision is fueling a nationwide backlash - rippling into homeowner outrage and legislative action.

The ruling resonates for millions of Americans because the issue hits - literally - close to their homes. During the Fourth of July weekend, anti-Kelo activists accused the courts of betraying one of the founding principles of the republic, citizens' right to their property. A Houston Chronicle editorial went so far as to compare the decision to communist Chinese land-use policy.

Now state lawmakers from New York to Alaska are urging limits on when a "public use" justifies the seizure of land. Congress is also moving on the issue - starting with a House vote last week to bar federal transportation funds from being used to make improvements on lands seized for private development.

Meanwhile, not content with the myriad issues where they're on the 30-40% side, Nancy Pelosi plumped national Democrats down on the 10% side of this one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 5, 2005 7:21 PM

In California, all the local governments have to do to increase revenues is force us to sell our house to the government and then sell it back to us. Then the property taxes would be levied on the current market value instead of the selling price when we bought it.

Posted by: Bret at July 5, 2005 7:33 PM

Outside of California, most counties can simply assess the property as being worth more, and raise the amount of taxes due.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 6, 2005 7:52 AM