Property Rights Hysteria?


by Timothy Sandefur

The Palm Beach Post has an editorial here describing eminent domain reform efforts as "hysteria."

Of course, newspapers are usually supporters of eminent domain abuse, because they are generally on the side of government, and of "cleaning up the city"–which, of course, means stealing people's homes and businesses and giving the land to someone who's wealthier and looks nicer.

That's just what's happening in Riviera Beach, for example, where city officials, in a shameless effort to evade state law, are trying to condemn 400 acres of other people's property and give the land to a private developer. But according to the Palm Beach Post, the victims of this underhanded scheme aren't the property owners whose land is being taken away from them against their will. No, the victims are the poor, defenseless bureaucrats, whose visions (of what to do with other people's property) are being obstructed by those darn old property rights. Says the Post,

Riviera Beach has been trying to redevelop the city's blighted waterfront, and had observed all the requirements of what for years had been the state's law, only to have years of work and expense trashed by Tallahassee. The Legislature used Riviera Beach as the reason for the law and the amendment, even though the city never has used eminent domain. Mayor Michael Brown wants to fight the state.

Well, that's true–Mayor Brown does want to fight the state. That's why, the day before Governor Bush signed the eminent domain reform bill–a bill with immense public support, which would merely forbid goverment from taking away someone's land and giving it to someone else–Mayor Brown and his city council enacted an ordinance to allow them to go forward with their condemnation plans.

But don't you just feel sorry for the poor city government? Here they had this ambitious plan to take away folks' property and give it away to people they liked better, and the mean old state government came in and "trashed" their "years of work and expense."

The Post ought to be ashamed…but brazenness like this knows no embarrassment.