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The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pays

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The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pays

Old 08-27-10, 09:37 AM
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The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pays

This is pure madness. It truly shows that if government wants something, they'll find a way to get it, even if laws are passed to try and stop it.

http://dailycaller.com/2010/08/26/em...-stinks/print/

Eminent domain, by any other name . . . still stinks
12:02 AM 08/26/2010

Imagine you come home from work one day to a notice on your front door that you have 45 days to demolish your house, or the city will do it for you. Oh, and you’re paying for it.

This is happening right now in Montgomery, Ala., and here is how it works: The city decides it doesn’t like your property for one reason or another, so it declares it a “public nuisance.” It mails you a notice that you have 45 days to demolish your property, at your expense, or the city will do it for you (and, of course, bill you).

Your tab with the city will constitute a lien on your property, and if you don’t pay it within 30 days (or pay your installments on time; if you owe over $10,000, you can work out a deal to pay back the city for destroying your home over a period of time, with interest), the city can sell your now-vacant land to the highest bidder.

Alabama law empowers municipalities to do just this. Officials can demolish structures that they determine, “due to poor design, obsolescence, or neglect, have become unsafe to the extent of becoming public nuisances…and [are] causing or may cause a blight or blighting influence on the city and the neighborhoods in which [they are] located.” Keep in mind, so-called standards like “obsolescence” are so vague they can mean anything, so even a well-maintained home that government officials don’t like the look of can be fed to the bulldozers.

While this may sound like eminent domain for private gain, it’s not. This is a completely different section of Alabama’s code that the city of Montgomery is now abusing habitually to tear down homes it does not like in a predominantly African American community — once home to Rosa Parks.

Jim Peera, who fought the city for years to keep a property he was rehabilitating himself — the kind of entrepreneurial private redevelopment that should be encouraged, especially in this economy — obtained copies of demolition records that indicate hundreds of homes and properties have been demolished over the past five years in Montgomery. Some may have posed an immediate threat to public health and safety — but that was certainly not the case with all of them.

Consider Jimmy McCall. Jimmy was in the process of building from the ground-up a home for his family when he was notified it was slated for demolition. After one failed attempt to bulldoze the half-completed home, the city came back under this state law and got what they were fighting for: Jimmy’s would-be dream home was demolished, and he was stuck with the bill.

How could building a home be considered a public nuisance, and not economic development — which is ultimately the goal of the city’s efforts?

In the wake of Kelo v. City of New London (the disastrous U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared the mere promise of increased tax revenue or jobs justifies condemning someone’s home), Alabama passed two laws that significantly tightened the state’s eminent domain law. Private property can’t be condemned for private development, and individual properties must actually be truly unsafe or neglected. It is largely impossible to use eminent domain for private gain now in Alabama, and the Institute for Justice, which tracks such reforms nationwide, gave the state a high grade of B+ for its efforts.

The end game in Montgomery, however, is obvious. The city wants to clear and ultimately sell-off the property of lower-income, mostly black Alabamans to higher-income developers, but it can’t do that through the state’s eminent domain law. So it found a backdoor, which also incidentally does not require the city to compensate property owners for their loss, but instead charges them.

Montgomery has been a battleground for civil rights since Rosa Parks stood up to the powers that be more than 50 years ago and demanded the freedoms guaranteed by our forefathers — in the same place property owners today demand the right to keep what is rightfully theirs.

This Saturday, August 28, 2010, the Institute for Justice (IJ) will hold a workshop in Montgomery to train property owners on how to fight these abuses of their rights. IJ holds these workshops nationwide to empower grassroots activists with the knowledge that they are right, that they do have rights and they can fight back and defeat even the most entrenched, powerful, well-funded interests — in this case, the government itself.

We will discuss how Montgomery residents can fight back and stop these demolitions, with the principle and conviction of a woman who refused to get up from a bus seat that she knew was hers five decades ago.
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Old 08-27-10, 09:51 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

I just don't get how the courts can allow this and not find it unconstitutional.
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Old 08-27-10, 09:56 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by Bandoman View Post
I just don't get how the courts can allow this and not find it unconstitutional.
That's what I said about Kelo and Penn Central and Midkiff and Poletown, etc.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:02 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

there is probably more to it than in the article

around where i live in NYC there are a lot of people buying up 50-60 year old homes and completely demolishing them or gutting them and doing extensive renovations. they hire professionals to do the job and it's done in a timely manner, etc.

i bet a lot of these people were trying to do it themselves and it's like the rednecks with 10 cars in the driveway and none have wheels. the home is always under construction and looks like crap

my wife and I just did this with an apartment. we bought in a nice building but it was unlivable. it took 2 months to gut it and renovate it. could have taken less. but if we did it ourselves we would be kicked out since it would take too long and it would cause problems for the neighbors. i just saw someone take a month to renovate a kitchen himself. he would work into darkness and it was noisy from the power tools always cutting something or him hammering something else. my wife told him to stop or she would complain to the city that he was violating noise ordinances
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Old 08-27-10, 10:11 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

freedom is ending as we know it

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Old 08-27-10, 10:18 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

If gov't thinks they are eyesores, then they should take the property, pay FMV (just compensation) to the owner and then demolish it on their own dime. Of course, Alabama passed more restrictive ED laws, so Montgomery has resorted to this end-around: and it's perfect for the city - they end up paying nothing for the property. Montgomery should lobby the Alabama legislature to change the law on public takings instead of abusing nuisance law. But if they can do this, they have no need to.

So yes, I would certainly be concerned about freedom.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:23 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

it doesn't work that way especially in residential neighborhoods. your property is your problem and your responsibility. if you want to improve your home then get the permits and do the work in a timely manner. don't turn your property into a perpetual construction site.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:24 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Wow. Just... wow.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:27 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2...ghts-struggle/

lots of houses on the street aren't being demolished, except for his with boarded up doors
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Old 08-27-10, 10:32 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

http://abcnews.go.com/US/montgomery-...1470620&page=3

it was a perpetual construction, and the genius spent too much money on it. For $200,000 he could have hired someone to do it a lot faster than the years it was taking him
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Old 08-27-10, 10:33 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

I love how government can take years to fix something but a private property owner has no such right.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:36 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Don't people have to apply for planning permission in the US? Are buildings not inspected to ensure they meet safety standards?

I can understand not wanting perpetual building sites going on in otherwise busy residential areas. OTOH if you're gonna build your own house it's gonna take quite some time. This sort of law would suggest that only a construction company can build a house in a residential district (effectively). That doesn't seem right.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:41 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by Burnt Thru View Post
This sort of law would suggest that only a construction company can build a house in a residential district (effectively). That doesn't seem right.
You can bet that contractors love this.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:51 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

except that most legit contractors know how to follow environmental regulations and will get rid of garbage in a timely manner. people like this guy that take years to build something will cause run off and other local environmental issues from having all the construction crap sitting out in the rain for years

like the picture of a pile of wood behind his home which probably has paint and other chemicals on it
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Old 08-27-10, 11:24 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

You need to take a lesson in grundlery, you forgot to mention that Obama will be operating the wrecking ball on demolition day in the thread title.
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Old 08-27-10, 11:25 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post

Oh, and the people that got "displaced"? Sometimes, ya just gotta say....fuck 'em.
That's what I say about union people who lose their jobs due to their unreasonable demands.
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Old 08-27-10, 11:35 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
Agreed 100%.



And I agree here, too.


The first thing that came to my mind when I was reading/watching this story is NYC. I lived in NYC in the mid-80's, and I loved it, but I was a wild young twenty-something. I didn't mind the hookers, junkies, and pimps (oh my!); I was a young man exploring the world, and that stuff was just "bizarre window dressing" to me.

Flash forward several years to the "new improved" Giuliani-ized NYC, where entire blocks of commercial and residential properties were annexed to promote commercial growth in NYC, and they had another purpose, as well: public safety. Times Square has become a Mecca of merchandise & merchandising, and tourism.

Now, many of you know that I often stand in defiance of "The Man" (thenkya, thenkyaverramuch). Now that I'm on the back side of 40, I realize that my enjoyment of the more prurient aspects of "life in the big city" were really things that were/are bad for the city. I like it much better there now (I visit a few times a year, usually). I see tourists out at 2 a.m. in 2010 in places where even I wouldn't dare go to at 2 p.m. in 1986. That's only good for the city, and never bad.

Oh, and the people that got "displaced"? Sometimes, ya just gotta say....fuck 'em.
NYC used to have a lot of manufacturing and it's still causing problems. Whole Foods Market wanted to open a store in brooklyn and then once construction started they found a lot of pollution at the site. they were supposed to clean it up but it became too expensive and abandoned the store. not sure who owned the property.

Same with Jet Blue's new terminal in JFK. it cost tens of millions in cost overruns due to pollution from prior manufacturing. and the law is that if it's your property, it's your responsibility to clean it up.

with Times Square the law in the 1990's became that you can't have 2 stores selling porn within 500 feet of each other. and to get around it you have to move your porn to the back and have most of your store selling something else. people didn't comply so they started to randomly close down violators. i work a few blocks away and it's a lot nicer than it was 30 years ago. even the fashion companies are nothing like the sweatshops that were there 30 years ago

it also helped that under Clinton they designated a few areas for big tax breaks and that's how a lot of companies afford the crazy rents in Times Square
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Old 08-27-10, 11:42 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
You can bet that contractors love this.


don't make your property look like this for years and you won't have a problem

I think demolishing a home due to a broken porch was going too far, but then if the home was in the family for decades like the article said it shouldn't have been a big deal to hire a contractor to fix it. and not wait to buy up material to fix it yourself
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Old 08-27-10, 11:48 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
You don't like me very much, do you?

I love when my very presence invokes such strong reactions from people, especially when they bring up subjects that aren't even on the table right now. Especially when I haven't discussed those subjects in weeks, and have no further intentions to.

Just means I struck a ripe, juicy nerve. Yum!
I don't have a like or dislike for you. Believe me - you're not that important. I just found your comment ironic, and I like to comment on irony in this forum.
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Old 08-27-10, 11:50 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


don't make your property look like this for years and you won't have a problem

I think demolishing a home due to a broken porch was going too far, but then if the home was in the family for decades like the article said it shouldn't have been a big deal to hire a contractor to fix it. and not wait to buy up material to fix it yourself
Sure you will have a problem....if you live in Montgomery. You'll lose your property and get nothing for it.
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Old 08-27-10, 11:59 AM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

This is a complicated issue. On one hand the guy has a right to build his house. But on the other hand, if it's going to become an unsafe structure, the community should have some say in that. Property owners have some responsibility and if you're not living up to that responsibility there are consequences.
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Old 08-27-10, 12:57 PM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
This is a complicated issue. On one hand the guy has a right to build his house. But on the other hand, if it's going to become an unsafe structure, the community should have some say in that. Property owners have some responsibility and if you're not living up to that responsibility there are consequences.
Should other people have a say about the property if it doesn't effect them? I understand the reason for having the house assessed if an owner wants to rent or sell but don't see the need in all cases. From looking at the fella's old house above it doesn't appear as though it was likely to damage any neighbouring property if it had collapse. Is percieved damage to local house prices really enough justification for these kinds of extreme action (bulldozing)?
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Old 08-27-10, 01:14 PM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
No guy has the right to build a house that could kill his entire family with a gust of wind. What, his children don't deserve to live in safety because he's an idiot?!?
It was a major step when the government decided it knew better what our children need than do their parents. Now some seem to not even question the nanny state culture. Personally I generally agree with the idea of housing laws (though note that Japan, for instance appears to have none of this and manages to get by) for the most part. Are you saying that a guy living on his own could build any type of house he liked? Or is it simply the fact of the house being built which means the government are allowed to get involved in the actions of a private individual?
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Old 08-27-10, 01:24 PM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by Burnt Thru View Post
Should other people have a say about the property if it doesn't effect them? I understand the reason for having the house assessed if an owner wants to rent or sell but don't see the need in all cases. From looking at the fella's old house above it doesn't appear as though it was likely to damage any neighbouring property if it had collapse. Is percieved damage to local house prices really enough justification for these kinds of extreme action (bulldozing)?
For me even if the guy is living in the house alone, it needs to comply with building safety codes. Maybe I'm a little sensitive to this because of the state inspections of the facilities I work for. Nearly all the regs are designed to protect the safety of the residents in our buildings.

If the guy is following all the construction safety regs and the government still wants to bulldoze/take his house because it doesn't "look nice," then that is bullshit in my mind.
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Old 08-27-10, 01:30 PM
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Re: The new form of eminent domain - where the government demolishes and the owner pa

Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
For me even if the guy is living in the house alone, it needs to comply with building safety codes. Maybe I'm a little sensitive to this because of the state inspections of the facilities I work for. Nearly all the regs are designed to protect the safety of the residents in our buildings.

If the guy is following all the construction safety regs and the government still wants to bulldoze/take his house because it doesn't "look nice," then that is bullshit in my mind.
Up until a few weeks ago that was also my position, party because that's the reality we have grown used to - regulation of private housing. A recent visit to Japan opened my eyes to the possibility that there is an alternate way of handling this area of our lives which is not necessarily worse. It's initially very weird to see all of the differently shaped, sized, coloured and oriented houses in Japanese suburbs but after a while it looks kind of beautiful. A real expression of the personalities of those who built them. I'm not saying that this is the way things should necessarily be in our own countries just that it is clearly a viable alternative.
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