I am passionately opposed to the use of eminent domain except in very limited circumstances. Eminent domain is when the government can seize private property for the good of the public. It is meant to be used for big projects like dams or highways.
Recent court rulings have expanded government’s powers to the local level for reasons as simple as the government desiring a greater tax base which they obtain by selling this seized property to private developers who build nicer buildings and then sell them or lease them for profit. The new owners pay more property tax than the previous owners, so we all win in the end, right?
Everybody except the original property owner who has no home, no property, and received such paltry amount for their property that they cannot buy another home. The current targets of these eminent domain policies are poor people with rundown homes.
But please don’t believe for a moment that it would stop there.
I am thinking of my modest, 1100 sq ft Cape Cod home in a neighborhood of modest Cape Cod homes in an area where the McMansion dominates. My small lot is just about big enough for a 4 bedroom, 3 bath, 2 car garage mini-mansion with a tiny yard. I pay about $4000 a year in property taxes (did I just hear audible gasps from 90% of the country that doesn’t pay ridiculous property taxes?) but a mini-Mc would fetch double that, easy. Multiply that times the 500 houses in that small pocket of town and you can see why local governments salivate at the idea of suddenly increasing their tax revenue by $2 million. Do I feel that my property ownership right are threatened?
You bet I do. And you should too.
Thanks to Kathryn over at Suitable for Mixed Company for the link.