Thursday, January 11, 2007

Let There Be Blight

In today's Wall Street Journal, William Maurer, author of "A False Sense of Security: The Potential For Eminent-Domain Abuse in Washington" shares this troubling story from Burien, Wash., a place where pols pronounced post-Kelo that "it could never happen here":
The city of Burien, Wash., recently decided that a piece of property owned by the seven Strobel sisters that had long housed a popular diner-style restaurant was not upscale enough for the city's ambitious "Town Square" development, which will feature condos, shops, restaurants and offices. Rather than condemn the property for a private developer and risk a lawsuit, Burien came up with a plan--it would put a road through the property, and the city manager told his staff to "make damn sure" it did. When a subsequent survey revealed that the road would not affect the building itself, but only sideswipe a small corner of the property, the staff developed yet another site plan that put the road directly through the building. A trial court concluded that the city's actions might be "oppressive" and "an abuse of power"--but allowed the condemnation anyway. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Washington Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Welcome to the post-Kelo world.

The piece goes on to note how state and local governments have perverted the definition of "blight" to include just about anything. Sounds familiar.

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