Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Eminent domain rears its ugly head in OKC

From The Oklahoman:
The Oklahoma City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday to declare a 692-acre area south of downtown blighted and subject to urban renewal.

The move allows the city to use eminent domain to buy land for MAPS 3 projects, including a $130 million, 70-acre downtown park and a $280 million convention center. The city also could buy land in the area and turn it over for private redevelopment, a controversial urban renewal tool that drew the lone no vote from Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters.
So, how many individual properties in this area actually fit the description of "blighted"? What is the definition of the word? Urban Renewal Authority attorney Leslie Batchelor told the City Council
" . . . declaring the area blighted isn’t a negative judgment. It allows the city to use new tools to help the area come back to life."
So, "blighted" means whatever the City needs it to mean to "allow" it to use "new tools"? Not what I would call an objective definition.

Kudos to Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters for voting against this smoke-and-mirrors routine and for publicly saying:
"We’re supposed to have private property rights in this country."
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