Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card #34: Is Eminent Domain Used With Public's Full Comprehension? NO

This is evaluation item #34 (of 47) of the Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card

Is Eminent Domain and its Threat Being Used Only with Full and Proper Public Comprehension? NO

Jane Jacobs felt that if the public fully comprehended the true economic equations and balances when eminent domain was being used it would almost never be used, especially when it was proposed to transfer property from one private property owner to give it to another for “economic redevelopment” purposes. In the case of Atlantic Yards, every effort has been made to minimize public involvement and participation in an evaluative process while the developer, aided and abetted by some politicians, has promulgated misinformation and misunderstanding about the project. Among other things, the public agencies involved, like the Empire State Development Corporation, have refused to do an assessment of the public costs of the eminent domain or weigh it against the benefits accruing to the developer who is driving it. Full value is not being paid for the property being condemned, and that also interferes with public enlightenment.

JJ Cites: [The power of eminent domain, long familiar and useful as a means of acquiring property needed to for public use, is extended under redevelopment law, to acquisition of property intended for private use and private profit. . . . The distinction . . .to make that kind of choice between private entrepreneurs and owners . . take the property of the one to benefit the other, as a means of achieving objectives which were for the public good. P. 311 The expense of bearing the whole coset would make public subsidy costs for redevelopment and for housing projects too heavy. At present, the redevelopment for private profit is ideologically and fiscally justified on the grounds that the public subsidy investment will be returned over a reasonable period in the form of increased taxes from the improvement. Were the involuntary subsidies which make these schemes possible included as public costs, the enlarged public costs would bear no conceivable relationship to the anticipated tax returns. P. 312, 313 Project building as a form of city transformation makes no more sense financially than it does socially. P. 313]

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