Friday, March 5, 2010 11:37 am | By Caitlin Blaney
Not too long ago, PRA wrote a blog post about an ongoing battle in New York City regarding eminent domain. In summary, a private developer in New York wants to build a $4.9 billion dollar pro-basketball arena smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn. In order to do so, residents of that neighborhood are being evicted on grounds that the neighborhood has been “blighted”, a precedent set by the infamous case Kelo v. The City of New London (2005). Needless to say, the residents of the neighborhood believe they are being unfairly evicted and took their complaints to the New York Supreme Court.
After nearly six years of battling developer Bruce Ratner, the neighbors received a final hit this week as the Supreme Court handed down its decision. As was reported in the New York Daily News, judges gave the Atlantic Yards arena project the go-ahead on Monday (March 1). Though the tenants technically have a few months before they have to be out of their apartments and condos, Ratner announced that he plans on breaking ground as early as March 11. But the residents refuse to go quietly. One tenant exclaimed, “It feels like I live in a state run by crooks!” To some New Yorkers, however, the greatest loss is not the residential property, but Freddy’s Bar and Backroom – rated one of the Best Bars in Brooklyn by the New York Times and Esquire – which also sits smack in the middle of Ratner’s targeted area for development.
Eminent domain is an issue raging quietly all over America, from the court case in New York to legislation in Utah, to the White House attempting to bring millions of acres of land under federal control. The protection of private property rights is just as important as the debate on tax hikes and health care. Owning private property free of federal oversight is a key to economic development and growth, and has always been one of the critical components of American prosperity.
For more information about the great benefits of strong private property rights, be sure to check out the 2010 Property Rights Index at www.internationalpropertyrightsindex.org
Obama Administration Makes Attempt to Seize Millions of Acres Across America
Wednesday, March 3, 2010 3:50 pm | By Caitlin Blaney
Republicans in Congress have recently become more vocal against some of the irrational policies of the Obama Administration, and Senator Jim DeMint (R – SC) is no exception. His op-ed appeared in the Washington Times on Tuesday calling for the White House to stop the incessant land-grabs across the nation. Senator DeMint argues that, aside from bringing large areas of land under federal control for no apparent reason, the land-grab actually takes potential jobs out of the market. Much of the land targeted for government takeover holds great oil and natural gas resources which could provide jobs in the energy industry and a flow of resources from our own American supply. Once those lands become “monuments”, access to those natural resources is limited and in the hands of the federal government. The Senator emphasizes the severity of the government land takeover, saying “This is a nationwide problem. The government currently owns 650 million acres, or 29 percent of the nation's total land.”
What’s worse, the government made two attempts to snatch property in 2009 through two separate bills: The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 and The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). The Omnibus bill included over 100 different land grab bills. Though the Property Rights Alliance and 111 other organizations banded together to send a letter to the House of Representatives expressing extreme displeasure with the Omnibus, the bill was passed in May, 2009. The NREPA had every intention of seizing nearly 24 million acres of land in the American west and northwest, however, NREPA never made it out of the House subcommittee.
The government offers little explanation for the land-grab frenzy, but there are plenty of reasons to oppose it. First and foremost, it is unconstitutional for the government to simply take land from states without compensation. Second, government-controlled land takes away opportunities for development, particularly when it comes to accessing much needed resources. The land designated as “monument” space could have created dozens of employment opportunities – opportunities which will go wasted under the thumb of the federal government.
Senator DeMint sponsored an amendment to stop President Obama from turning the designated lands into “monuments”, but it was shot down in the Senate 58-38.
The ability of the White House to simply snatch land from under the feet of the American people comes from the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Act was initially intended to set aside small portions of land for monuments and national parks, but has since been abused by lawmakers to control large quantities of property.
Report Emphasizes Connection between Property Rights and Economic Well-being
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:00 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek
The Property Rights Alliance is proud to announce the release of the 2010 International Property Rights Index (IRPI), which measures the intellectual and physical property rights of 125 nations from around the world. This year, sixty-two international organizations partnered with the Property Rights Alliance and its Hernando de Soto Fellowship program to produce the fourth annual IPRI. To view the report in its entirety visit www.internationalpropertyrightsindex.org.