July 3, 2006

Keep Kelo out of Renton Highlands

By Keep Kelo out of Renton Highlands

The Seattle Post Intelligencer has this article about eminent domain being threatened in Renton, Washington.

For the past several months, [Renton Mayor Kathy] Keolker has been preparing to use Washington's Community Renewal Law to clear out the Renton Highlands. Adopted in 1957 during the "urban renewal" fad, the law authorizes cities to condemn homes in supposedly "blighted" neighborhoods and turn the property over to private developers.

It doesn't matter whether the homes are actually blighted. Under the law, the city may use eminent domain because of neighborhood conditions that are exclusively the city's responsibility, such as "inadequate street layout."

The mayor was all set to use the Community Renewal Law when the courageous efforts of Highlands residents, along with increased scrutiny brought about by the Kelo anniversary, caused her to take a step back. On Monday, she explained she would not use the law "at this time."

Keolker's overture is cold comfort to Highlands residents. She insists eminent domain may still "become necessary," adding that she is "happy to revisit" the issue. Worse, she blames Highlands residents for derailing her plans, claiming they "employed mischaracterizations, exaggerations, and scare tactics that distort the intent of some of the city's concepts." Really?

(Read more…)

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