eminent domain

A trend has been growing in South Florida, including Pompano, for local governments to tell homeowners “Sell your land or we’ll take it”. The power of eminent domain has been exercised throughout the United States for public purpose such as airport expansions or public parks. But our cities are taking it to the next level- seize housing in blighted areas and then turn it over to developers.

What’s wrong with that? “They’ll put in nicer homes and clean up the area. ” Developers are promising high density ‘affordable’ apartments and condominiums. This is mantra is being repeated over and over. I don’t know about you but my dream was never to grow up and own a condo. Sure there was a point when that was my goal, but to build a family, I wanted a home, not a condo. Additionally, although I can’t point my fingers at a project where land was seized, there is an increasing number of projects that start off as affordable but then have grown to $250,000 and up- not affordable for many.

The guy kicked out of his $130,000 home can’t afford to ‘buy back in’ to the new neighborhood with it’s higher property taxes.
What’s the solution? We need to start looking harder at solutions that don’t mean going from a single family home to a condo. We need to vote this fall on new legistlature that will protect homeowners from being forced to sell for the sole purpose of a local government turning the land over to a private enterprise for redevelopment- a back door for developers with diminishing land to build on. I’m all for rebuilding communities, but not at this cost, not without further brainstorming.

My extended family had a 100 year old business seized in Rochester NY ‘for the greater good’ to build a new convention center and hotel. Built before there were regulations on pollutant dumping, or even knowledge of the chemical harm in the early days, it was probably a good thing for them to get out with the city and federal government paying for the clean up. They now have an ultra modern plant about a mile or so away- safe for the employees and the environment. They’ll always say they were not given enough money to move and rebuild, but in the end I think it was probably a fair trade-off for the rest of the community. I think this is a good example of use of the eminent domain law.

Seizing homes in our local community for redevelopment seems to benefit:

1. the builder (most)

2. the city, who gains property tax base

3. the homeowners? No, they’ll be relocating because they can’t afford to live there anymore (the departure of lower income workers is a whole other problem)

IF THIS BILL (HB1587) PASSES, VOTE NEXT NOVEMBER: YES, TO SUPPORT STOPPING CITIES FROM taking land unless they can prove a threat to public safety

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