Riviera Beach, Florida Eminent Domain - Background

Litigation Backgrounder

Protecting Kelo’s Victims In Riviera Beach, Florida:

City Seeks to Use Eminent Domain To Replace Lower-Income & Minority Residents With Wealthier Ones

“[T]he fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.”

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Dissenting in
Kelo v. City of New London

The Issue in a Nutshell

Across America, local governments are using the power of eminent domain to seize private homes, businesses, farms and houses of worship in order to transfer property to other private owners for their private use.  More often than not, governments justify these private-to-private transfers by claiming that the property is “blighted” and will be “redeveloped” by the new owner, thereby supposedly creating more jobs and taxes.

This abuse of the power of eminent domain for private development often occurs in lower-income and minority communities, where city officials designate as “blighted” any area that they would rather replace with wealthier residents.  Today, the most prominent example of that phenomenon in the nation is in Riviera Beach, Fla., a working-class, predominantly African-American community of 33,000 on the Atlantic Ocean.  There, Mayor Michael Brown and the City Council have designated more than 800 acres near the waterfront as “blighted” in order to force out home and business owners in favor of a private development project featuring condominiums, hotels and yacht slips for the wealthy.

Unfortunately, there is a long history of cities using eminent domain to destroy lower-income and minority communities for the benefit of private developers.  However, that problem got much worse in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous decision last year in Kelo v. City of New London.  In that case, the Court held that City officials may use eminent domain to take homes and businesses and give them to private developers as long as the officials think that the developers will produce more money with the land.  Justice O’Connor, whose dissenting opinion in Kelo is quoted above, realized that the decision left poor and minority communities particularly vulnerable, as it is easy for cities to claim that replacing their neighborhoods with new developments will make more money.

Kelo outraged almost every American, and nationwide, 30 states passed eminent domain reforms.  Florida’s law, one of the strongest of the bunch, clearly makes the eminent domain plans of Riviera Beach officials illegal.  But Mayor Brown and the City continue to say that they will use eminent domain and that the new law won’t stop them.  That means that many of Riviera Beach’s residents still live under the constant threat of being forced from their homes and businesses—a threat that won’t go away until their officials are forced to obey the law.

The Institute for Justice is representing Riviera Beach home and business owners who are fighting to remove the cloud of eminent domain abuse that now hangs over their properties.  The lawsuit aims to stop cities like Riviera Beach from defying Florida’s new eminent domain law, and to vindicate the Florida Constitution’s ban on the abuse of eminent domain for private development.  A victory in this case will discourage other cities across the country from flouting their state’s post-Kelo eminent domain laws.

 

Introduction

For the last few years, the nation’s attention was riveted on a little pink house in a coastal Connecticut town.  That house, owned by Susette Kelo, was the focus of the most infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision in recent memory, Kelo v. City of New London.  Although the U.S. Constitution says that property can be condemned only for “public use,” the Court held that government officials can condemn homes or businesses for private development as long as they think the new owners may be able to make more money with the land.

Now, more than one year after the Kelo decision, attention is turning to another pink house in another coastal town:  Riviera Beach, Fla.  The house’s owner is Princess Wells.  She and her husband, who built the home, have lived there for more than 20 years.  But now her home, as well as her neighborhood, is under siege.  That is because the City, led by Mayor Michael Brown, insists that it can and will use eminent domain to take homes and businesses in the area in order to make way for private development.

The 800-acre area that the City has designated as eligible for the use of eminent domain for redevelopment contains approximately 5,100 residents.  The City plans to use eminent domain in the area to make way for a project spearheaded by Viking Inlet Harbor Properties, a private developer formed by a yacht construction company and a foreign resort-development firm.[1]  Viking intends to build office space, an aquarium, a marina, luxury condominiums, high-end restaurants and hotels that the area’s current residents could never afford to support.  Mayor Brown has repeatedly made it clear that the City will use eminent domain against citizens in the path of the $2.4 billion dollar project if they choose not to leave willingly.[2]  He admits that his city could be the site of one of the biggest uses of eminent domain in U.S. history.[3]

Riviera Beach home and business owners Princess Wells, Mike and Nora Mahoney, and Artis Reaves live with the threat of eminent domain hanging over their homes and businesses every day.  Princess simply wants to enjoy her home and to make a living from the salon/barber shop that she owns and operates with the help of one of her sons.  Twenty-four years ago, Princess chose to build in her neighborhood because it was friendly, quiet and close to the ocean.  Over the years she raised four children in her home, and it provides a comfortable retreat for her after long days at work.

The threat of eminent domain is in the front of Princess’ mind every day.  She would like to begin several home improvement projects, but the fact she could lose her home at any time makes it pointless to spend the time or money.  Also, the threat of eminent domain impacts her business:  she’s lost customers and employees because they believe that her business will eventually be forced to close when the bulldozers come.

The Mahoneys came to Riviera Beach because they believed they could help make a difference in the city by building up properties already there.  Michael lived in Riviera Beach when he was young, and he particularly remembered the Main Street Plaza when it was vibrant and successful.  He and Nora thought they could play a part in restoring the city to vitality.  In 1999, with the help of the Community Redevelopment Agency and a grant from Palm Beach County, they completely renovated an old hotel, turning it into office and studio space, and the following year the couple also purchased Dee’s T-Shirts, which is located across the street.

When the Mahoneys began their efforts in Riviera Beach, Michael Brown had just been elected to his first term as mayor.  The Mayor himself initially helped the Mahoneys prepare to purchase their building at Main Street Plaza.  But things changed in 2000, as the Mayor replaced the Community Redevelopment Agency’s director and in 2002 the City approved a redevelopment area that included more than 800 waterfront acres, including both Main Street Plaza and Dee’s Tees.  Since that time, the Mahoneys—who only want to operate their businesses in peace and safety—have faced nothing but difficulty from Riviera Beach officials, who insist that they either sell their properties to the developer or watch as everything for which they’ve worked so hard gets stripped away from them.  The threat of eminent domain has made it difficult to plan for their business and caused them to hold back on purchasing new equipment.  It is also difficult to enter into long-term contracts with customers and suppliers, who know that the City could try to condemn their business in the near future.

Artis Reaves’ home is also in Mayor Brown’s crosshairs.  Artis has lived in Riviera Beach for more than 20 years, 13 of which have been in his current home, raising his four children and working as a licensed electrician.  His job involves maintaining the electrical systems on the many drawbridges in the area.  He loves that his neighborhood is close to the drawbridges; that means that if a problem comes up, he can be on the scene quickly.  He has expended a tremendous amount of time and effort making his home a comfortable, pleasant place and he does not think anyone should be able to force him to leave.  Like Princess, he would like to make improvements to his home, but has not done so because of the threat of eminent domain.

Princess is dismayed that the threat of eminent domain hangs over her neighborhood, leaving her and the rest of the community in constant limbo.  “America is made of little people.  Small, hardworking people,” Wells said.  “Stability means a lot to people, and to have that swept away, that’s just devastating.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s horrendous decision in Kelo v. City of New London is the reason that stability was swept away, especially—just as Justice O’Connor predicted in her dissenting opinion—for residents of working-class and minority communities.  After all, those communities can always produce more tax dollars if they are torn down and replaced with shiny new private developments.  Under Kelo, that’s a good enough reason for eminent domain to be used.  Thankfully, in the aftermath of that decision, the Florida Legislature heard the concerns of people like Mrs. Wells and acted decisively to outlaw the abuse of eminent domain for private development, and thus ensure that property owners have the stability that they deserve.  With its new eminent domain reforms in place, Florida now provides more protection for its citizens’ property rights than almost any other state in the country.

But despite the fact that the new laws clearly prohibit cities from taking land from one private party so that it can be used exclusively by another private party, Mayor Brown continues to insist that the City will initiate condemnation proceedings against home and business owners who refuse to make way for a wealthier class of people.  That means that even with the new law’s protections in place, Princess Wells, Artis Reaves, the Mahoneys, and their neighbors continue to live with the fear of losing their homes and businesses.  Their lives are on hold because they don’t know which day in their homes and businesses might be their last.

On September 26, 2006, the Institute for Justice joined Princess, the Mahoneys and Artis to remove the threat of eminent domain that Mayor Brown and the Riviera Beach City Council have placed on their neighborhood.  The Institute, along with local counsel John Little of Brigham Moore, LLP, is asking the Circuit Court of Florida’s Fifteenth Judicial Circuit to declare that, under the Florida Constitution and state statutes governing the use of eminent domain, the City is forbidden from condemning these homes and businesses for private development.


Eminent Domain Abuse Nationwide

The situation in Riviera Beach is one of the many cases of eminent domain abuse that play out every day all over America.  Under the U.S. and Florida Constitutions, governments are not supposed to be able to take people’s homes and businesses for private use.  In the past several decades, however, cities have used eminent domain so that developers can build private projects like condominiums and shopping malls.  Typically, local governments try to justify eminent domain by attaching a “blight” designation to the desired properties.  Most people assume that a “blighted” property is one that is falling apart, vacant or in some other way posing a threat to the health or safety of the community.  Many also assume that it is okay for governments to condemn properties that are declared blighted.  But in fact, cities have taken to defining “blight” so broadly that just about any normal property could fit the description.  The City of Lakewood, Ohio, for example, used the fact that a number of homes in a beautiful, vibrant neighborhood did not have two full bathrooms or three bedrooms to label the neighborhood blighted so it could be given to a commercial developer.[4]  Since courts frequently uphold bogus blight designations, the threat of eminent domain for commercial development potentially looms over everyone—even in neighborhoods full of well-maintained homes and businesses.

The practice of specifically targeting minority communities with “blight” designations and “urban renewal projects” has been so prevalent in the past that “urban renewal” was frequently referred to as “Negro removal.”[5]  During the period of 1949-1973, urban renewal projects displaced one million people, two-thirds of them African American.[6]  As Hilary Shelton, the director the NAACP’s Washington Bureau testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, there are numerous examples of minority communities being disproportionately targeted for eminent domain.[7]  Indeed, the NAACP filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of Susette Kelo and her neighbors because it feared that a bad decision would do exactly what it’s doing now:  encourage the abuse of eminent domain against those least able to fight it.[8]  Right now, minority neighborhoods across the nation, from Fresno, Calif.,[9] to Richmond Heights, Mo.,[10] to Lawnside, N.J.,[11] are threatened by the abuse of eminent domain.


The Riviera Beach Project

Several years ago the government of Riviera Beach, Fla., devised a scheme—the use of eminent domain for a large redevelopment project—that it believed would funnel enormous amounts of tax revenue into the City’s coffers.  Mayor Michael Brown says that, in pursuing the project, he is on a “rescue mission” to save Riviera Beach’s residents from poverty.[12]  Apparently, his idea of rescuing residents means removing them from the city and replacing their homes and businesses with a playground for the wealthy that includes a new marina, restaurants, hotels, luxury condominiums, and a 96,000-square-foot aquarium.[13]  Spearheading the development is Viking Inlet Harbor Properties, a collaboration between the Viking Group Yacht Company (a $250 million, privately held company) and a foreign resort-development firm.[14]  Instead of working with the City’s residents to improve their neighborhoods—through things like better policing, the creation of economic incentive districts and expedited permitting—Mayor Brown and other Riviera Beach officials are treating them as obstacles that need to be removed.

Just as many other cities have done when looking for excuses to threaten or employ eminent domain, Riviera Beach conducted a study in 2001 in order to label an 800-acre area of waterfront property “blighted.”  The result, of course, was pre-ordained.  The City had not expected, however, that one of the area’s residents, Martha Babson, would take the initiative to double-check the study’s conclusions.  Her findings obliterated the credibility of the City’s blight designation.  Among other flaws, the study:

  • Labeled buildings “functionally obsolete” anywhere the study determined that they could be replaced with something that generated more money.

  • Designated as “vacant” numerous lots that were actually dotted with homes constructed in the past four or five years.

  • Inflated the number of “unused” properties by counting a vacancy where some homes were built on double lots.

  • Failed to offer findings of high crime rates or fires.[15]

But the fundamental flaws of a blight study are as irrelevant to City officials as the constitutional rights of the citizens that own the targeted properties.  The City Council refused to pay attention to the evidence that Babson had collected to demonstrate the errors in its blight study.[16]  Instead, the City pressed blindly forward with its threats to use eminent domain against all those who refuse to sell their property to its chosen developer.  Of course, the City ignores the fact that, when it comes to true “blight,” it need look no further than several of the properties the City owns the redevelopment area—properties that it has let decay to the detriment of adjacent home and business owners.  Also falling on deaf ears are citizens’ complaints that the City is also creating “blight” by not adequately policing the neighborhoods in redevelopment area.

 

Kelo v. City of New London:  Fallout and Backlash

Even as Riviera Beach was preparing its own redevelopment plans, the issue of eminent domain abuse was dramatically brought to the nation’s attention when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review Kelo v. City of New London.  In that case, the City of New London, Conn., had condemned waterfront homes and businesses for no other reason than that it wanted to replace the current owners with new ones that might create jobs and higher taxes.  The City did not even bother to argue that the condemned properties were blighted.  In 2005, a sharply divided Court announced its conclusion that despite the “public use” requirement written into the Fifth Amendment, the U.S. Constitution allows governments to take property from private owners based on nothing more than the vague hope of “public benefits” that might flow from taxes generated by another private owner.

In her dissent, Justice O’Connor explained that under the majority’s reasoning, “Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”[17]  In other words, if the promise of greater taxes and jobs is justification enough to take someone’s property, then no one is safe.  Practically any home in the United States would generate more tax dollars as a retail development.  Small businesses would generate more tax dollars if they were destroyed and replaced with bigger businesses.  The implication of the Kelo majority is that Americans’ homes and businesses are now constantly available to the highest bidder.

Of course, as Justice O’Connor noted, those who are most vulnerable to eminent domain abuse are those with the least ability to fight back—usually lower-income and minority communities.  When eminent domain is abused, those groups are forced to forfeit their homes and businesses to large corporations and development firms.  Riviera Beach’s efforts—which place Princess Wells and her neighbors on one side, with Viking Inlet Harbor Properties on the other—could not illustrate Justice O’Connor’s fears more perfectly.

Cities and developers embraced the majority’s decision in Kelo and, emboldened by the broad license it provided, began even more aggressive efforts to use eminent domain for private development.  In the year after the decision, almost 6,000 properties were either condemned or threatened to be condemned for the benefit of private parties.[18]  To put that number in context, in the five-year period of 1998-2002, the average number of threatened and actual condemnations per year was about 2,000.[19]

Although cities and developers liked the Kelo decision, the vast majority of Americans were outraged by it.  The public response to Kelo was immediate and emphatic:  Americans from all regions,  ethnicities and political persuasions demanded that their governments demonstrate respect for their property rights by placing limits on how eminent domain could be used.

In the aftermath of the decision, the Institute for Justice and its nationwide grassroots activism project, the Castle Coalition, launched the “Hands Off My Home” campaign—an effort incorporating grassroots outreach, and educational and legislative efforts aimed at restoring proper legal safeguards for the homes and businesses of all Americans.  Over the course of that effort, the Institute for Justice teamed with groups from across the political and ideological spectrum, all of whom recognize that the abuse of eminent domain is wrong:  the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Farm Bureau, the National Council of Churches, the Mexican-American Legal and Educational Defense Fund, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, just to name a few.  The results of these groups’ efforts, those of state legislators, and the political pressure applied by ordinary Americans, have been amazing.  Since Kelo was handed down, every state legislature in session has considered some type of eminent domain reform and 30 states have either adopted new laws or sent constitutional amendments to the voters with the purpose of protecting citizens against the abuse of eminent domain.

Just as importantly, state courts have shown a renewed commitment to enforce their own constitutions’ protections of citizens’ property rights.  For example, in January, the Ohio Supreme Court became the first state supreme court in the nation to hear an eminent domain case after the Kelo decision was handed down.  In July, it handed down its decision, in which it refused to follow Kelo’s reasoning and instead struck down the City of Norwood’s attempt to condemn homes in a normal middle-class neighborhood for the profit of a commercial developer.  In Norwood v. Horney, the Ohio Supreme Court interpreted the Ohio Constitution to provide significantly more protections for that state’s citizens than the U.S. Supreme Court found in the U.S. Constitution.[20]  Likewise, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the Kelo majority’s reasoning, holding that economic development was not a justifiable purpose for using eminent domain under the Oklahoma Constitution.[21]

 

Florida’s Eminent Domain Reforms and Riviera Beach’s Proposed Project

Even before Kelo, Florida cities were some of the worst abusers of eminent domain in the nation.  Across the country, during the five-year period 1998-2002, there were more than 10,000 actual and threatened condemnations for the benefit of private parties.  Remarkably, Florida cities were responsible for more than one-fifth of that total.[22]

Florida’s new eminent domain law was designed to put an end to that kind of abuse.  Under the new law, eminent domain may only be used for roads, transportation services, utilities and public infrastructure.[23]  Even if property is taken for a legitimate public purpose, the government must wait at least 10 years before transferring that property to another private owner.[24]  The law also states that cities cannot justify condemnations for the benefit of private developers or other parties by slapping a “blight” designation on an area.[25]  Overnight, the law transformed Florida from one of the worst abusers of eminent domain to one of the best protectors of its citizens’ homes and businesses.

Riviera Beach’s plan to use eminent domain in what it calls a “blighted” area so that the area can be handed over to new private owners is plainly at odds with the reforms adopted in Florida.  The City knew this would be the case even when Florida’s Legislature was debating the new laws, which is why Riviera Beach officials pulled out every stop in lobbying for an exemption that would allow the City to use eminent domain against residents who prefer not to leave their homes and businesses.  But the Legislature recognized what the City apparently could not—all property owners, no matter who they are or where they live, deserve protection from eminent domain abuse.  By refusing to grant Riviera Beach’s demands for an exemption, the State’s new laws have made very clear that the City has no authority to force its citizens to sell their homes and businesses.

Remarkably, however, this has not ended the City’s threats against property owners in the redevelopment area.  Grasping at even the most barely-conceivable of straws, Mayor Brown claims that because the City government signed a vague agreement with Viking Inlet Harbor Properties just hours before Governor Jeb Bush could sign Florida’s new reforms into law, the City government retains the right to operate as if the new laws don’t exist.  (The absurdity of this argument is matched only by the audacity with which it is asserted.)  Even after residents opposed to eminent domain abuse filed two lawsuits to prevent the redevelopment plan from proceeding, Mayor Brown insisted that the City would move forward and suggested that the residents “just might get ready for the legal fight of their lives.”[26]

Many residents fear retaliation and harassment if they speak up against the City’s plans.  Fane Lozman, who sued the City Council for failing to provide adequate notice of the meeting at which it signed the agreement that the City now claims allows it to operate under the old eminent domain laws, has been hassled for doing routine maintenance on his houseboat at the city’s marina.[27]  Even more ridiculous, the marina served him with an eviction notice for failing to muzzle his dog when they went for walks.  The eviction notice cited concerns that the dog might attack someone if it was not properly restrained.  What kind of a vicious animal could inspire such concern that it warranted eviction?  Fane’s 10-pound miniature dachshund.[28]

 

Litigation Strategy

This case is part of the Institute for Justice’s continuing efforts to vindicate the constitutional rights of home and business owners in state courts in the wake of the Supreme Court’s terrible Kelo decision.  Through these efforts, the Institute intends eventually to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the question of eminent domain abuse, at which time it may be prepared to overturn Kelo and to restore the basic right of all Americans to keep what is rightfully theirs—their homes and businesses—instead of having them taken for private use.

The choices a person makes concerning her home or business are among the most personal and important decisions she will ever make.  When the government exercises eminent domain, it can take someone’s home or livelihood, exacting enormous personal costs.  The Institute for Justice is especially concerned with the way that government actions affect those who have relatively limited economic means to defend themselves against such outrages.

Riviera Beach’s plan to condemn homes and businesses for private development violates the Florida and U.S. Constitutions, and Florida’s eminent domain statutes—both the new ones passed in the wake of Kelo and those that existed before.  The City is trying to displace residents whose only crime is that they are not wealthy enough to suit the City’s liking and they don’t have the political power to fight back against the moneyed interests that lust after their waterfront neighborhood.

The illegality of the City’s threatened actions is only compounded by its agreement to use whatever eminent domain authority it has when and where Viking demands it.  By purportedly signing away to Viking the right to determine when and where eminent domain will be used, the City has unconstitutionally delegated the most terrible power that governments possess.  Placing eminent domain—which, as early as 1795, the U.S. Supreme Court described as the “despotic power”[29]—into the hands of those who are not accountable to the citizens, from whom such power flows, violates fundamental precepts of constitutional governance.

Taking homes and businesses from one person to give to another is not a “public” use.  The public won’t own, manage or profit from the proposed development; the developer will.

 

Conclusion

When, in Kelo, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to recognize the inviolability of Americans’ property rights, the majority still acknowledged the prerogative of the states to change their own laws to ensure protections that the Court itself would not provide.  Alongside many other states, Florida has answered that invitation by passing laws that strictly limit when local governments may take property from one private owner to give it to another.  Riviera Beach’s Mayor and City Council are openly defying the State’s efforts to protect its citizens.  This case will ensure the effectiveness of the reforms undertaken by the people of Florida, as well as the Florida Constitution’s prohibition against the abuse of eminent domain for private gain, by turning back the efforts of petty tyrants who refuse to acknowledge the limits placed on their authority.  Princess and her neighbors aren’t just fighting for their own homes and businesses—they are fighting to defend the essential rights of all Americans.

 

Litigation Team

The property owners in this case will be represented by three attorneys from the Institute for Justice.  Bert Gall is a senior attorney who specializes in defending homes and businesses from the threat of eminent domain.  Through litigation and grassroots efforts, he helped a neighborhood in Lakewood, Ohio, get its bogus “blight” designation reversed, and he represented Norwood, Ohio, homeowners Carl and Joy Gamble and their neighbors in Norwood v. Horney, the first eminent domain abuse case argued and decided in the aftermath of Kelo v. City of New London.  For the past year, Bert directed the Castle Coalition’s “Hands Off My Home” campaign.  Dana Berliner is a senior attorney who specializes in property rights, and particularly in eminent domain litigation.  She represented Susette Kelo in Kelo v. City of New London, successfully argued the Norwood v. Horney case before the Ohio Supreme Court, and in her first eminent domain case she saved Vera Coking’s home from becoming Donald Trump’s limousine parking lot in Atlantic City.  Dave Roland is a staff attorney who litigates property rights, economic liberty and school choice cases in both state and federal courts.  He assisted with the litigation in Norwood and has written op-eds and testified before state legislatures on the issue of eminent domain abuse.  Ably assisting the Institute for Justice as local counsel is John Little from Brigham Moore, LLP.

The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading advocate against the abuse of eminent domain, fighting battles in courts and statehouses across the nation in its effort to end the taking of private property by governments for the benefit of private parties.  In addition to recently representing the property owners before the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London and before the Ohio Supreme Court in Norwood v. Horney, IJ is currently representing property owners in New York City and Long Branch, N.J.  IJ has also already won victories against the abuse of eminent domain in courts of law and the court of public opinion in Atlantic City, N.J.; Baltimore; Pittsburgh; Canton, Miss.; Mesa, Ariz.; Lakewood, Ohio; and Norwood, Ohio.

 

For more information contact:

John Kramer, Vice President for Communications (jkramer@ij.org)
Lisa Knepper, Director of Communications (lknepper@ij.org)

Institute for Justice
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(703) 682-9320



[1] See Guy Taylor, Redevelopment: Eminently Unfair?, The Washington Times, April 4, 2006.

[2] See Pat Beall, Riviera Beach Eminent Domain Case Draws National Spotlight, Palm Beach Post, December 11, 2005; Joyce Price, Florida City to Push Ahead With Property Seizure, The Washington Times, May 29, 2006.

[3] See Joyce Price, Florida City Considers Eminent Domain, The Washington Times, October 3, 2005.

[4] The Ohio Supreme Court recently held in Norwood v. Horney, 2006 WL 2096001 (Ohio) (a case litigated by the Institute for Justice) that the Ohio Constitution required courts to review cities’ determinations of “blight” very carefully.

[5] Brief of Amici Curiae National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, et al. at 7, Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005).

[6] See Alexander Garvin, The American City 132 (1995); Mindy Thompson Fullilove, Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It 4 (2004). See also Mary Bishop, The Loss Still Stings, The Roanoke Times, January 29, 1995 at 4.

[7]The Kelo Decision:  Investigating Takings of Homes and Other Private Property”: Hearing Before the Senate Comm. On the Judiciary, 109th Cong. 12 (2005) (statement of Hilary Shelton, Director of the Wash. Bureau for the NAACP), available at http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=1612&wit_id=4660.

[8] See Brief of Amici Curiae National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, et al. at 11, Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005).

[9] See Russell Clemings, Chinatown Property Owners Divided On Eminent Domain, The Fresno Bee, March 13, 2006 at A1.

[10] See Renee Stovsky, St. Luke Students Preserve Hadley Township’s Legacy, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 3, 2005.

[11] See Elizabeth Mehren, States Acting to Protect Private Property: Preserving Homeowner Rights has Become Goal Since the Supreme Court Ruled that Governments Can Take Land for Developers, Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2006 at A1.

[12] See Joyce Price, Florida City to Push Ahead With Property Seizure, The Washington Times, May 29, 2006.

[13] Guy Taylor, Redevelopment: Eminently Unfair?, The Washington Times, April 4, 2006.

[14] Guy Taylor, Redevelopment: Eminently Unfair?, The Washington Times, April 2, 2006. (“VIHP, which is still working out final details of its agreement with the city, is a joint venture between the world-renowned Viking Group yacht company, and Portfolio Group, the U.S. branch of an Australian resort-development firm.”)

[15] Pat Beall, Riviera Beach Eminent Domain Case Draws National Spotlight, Palm Beach Post, December 11, 2005.

[16] See id.

[17] Kelo v. City of New London, 125 S.Ct. 2655, 2676 (2005).

[18] Dana Berliner, Opening the Floodgates: Eminent Domain Abuse in the Post-Kelo World 1 (2006). 

[19] Dana Berliner, Public Power, Private Gain: A Five-Year, State-by-State Report Examining the Abuse of Eminent Domain 2 (2003).

[20] Norwood v. Horney, 2006 WL 2096001 (Ohio).

[21] Board of County Commissioners of Muskogee County v. Lowery, 136 P.3d 639, 650 (Okla. 2006).

[22] Dana Berliner, Public Power, Private Gain: A Five-Year, State-by-State Report Examining the Abuse of Eminent Domain 52 (2003) (noting 2,122 threatened and filed condemnations for private benefit between 1998 and 2002).

[23] Fla. Stat. § 73.013(1).

[24] Fla. Stat. § 73.013(2).

[25] Fla. Stat. § 163.335.

[26] Jennifer Sorentrue, Nonprofit’s lawsuit claims Riviera Beach development illegal, Palm Beach Post, June 13, 2006.

[27] Bob Norman, Witness for the Intimidation: Funny How the Police Take a Dim View of a Guy Holding Up $2.4 Billion in Development, New Times Broward Palm Beach, August 10, 2006.

[28] Bob Norman, Who Crowned Michael Brown?: Laws? The Riviera Beach Mayor Doesn’t Need Laws, New Times Broward Palm Beach, August 17, 2006.

[29] VanHorne’s Lessee v. Dorrance, 2 U.S. 304 (1795).


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