Thursday, June 28, 2007

Eminent Domain Opponents Gather at City Hall

More than 100 opponents of what they call "epidemic abuse of eminent domain in New York City and New York State" gathered at City Hall yesterday to mark the second anniversary of a critical Supreme Court decision. The group included property owners, tenants, advocates and elected officials.

"We haven't seen this level of eminent domain abuse in New York City since the days of Robert Moses," said No Land Grab's Lumi Michelle Rolley, whose blog serves a clearning house for eminent domain-related stories. "Mayor Bloomberg's policy has been to threaten the use of eminent domain to force property owners to sell and to thwart every effort towards legislative reform both in Washington and Albany."

The Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London allowed government to seize private property on behalf of private developers and is a symbol of "abuse" of government's eminent domain power, which was traditionally used for public projects. Since the Kelo decision, 38 states have enacted eminent domain reform legislation. New York has not done so.

Locally, a great deal of controversy about the Atlantic Yards development has revolved around the planned taking of property from owners that do not want to sell to Forest City Ratner. "The abuse of eminent domain is an abuse of our fundamental constitutional rights and must be opposed like all other attempts to violate constitutional rights," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein, who is fighting the attempt to take his home. His apartment sits roughly at what would be mid-court at the Barclays Center. "Our government has no business forcing us to sell our properties to benefit their developer friends," he said.

Groups from around the city, including Willets Point in Queens, Downtown Brooklyn and West Harlem were represented at yesterday's rally.

[Photos courtesy of Jonathan Barkey/pbase]

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