Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Eminent domain proceeding against Little Italy in San Diego

Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Kelo, the city of San Diego has decided to oust the business holders in San Diego's Little Italy. There are several items in San Diego's eminent domain queue as noted at the Castle Coalition. In the particular story I link to above, the issue surrounds Alsco, a linen and laundry company. The business employs 150 people and provides services to an estimated 3000 businesses in the area. A developer wants to build condos and some shops on the block Alsco is sitting on and has options to buy the other 3 plots that, together with Alsco, make up the block. They want the area declared "blighted" and Alsco to be forced to cough up the land.

The comment made in a story by a Union-Tribune writer by the developer's spokeman tells the crux of the tale:

::::::::CLB Partners has sought, without success, to buy the Alsco land since 2000, developer Patrick Rhamey said. He described his company's communication with Alsco staff as courteous, but indecisive and frustrating.

"Prior to this, there has been no movement," he told redevelopment officials last week. "CCDC's [Centre City Development Corp.] involvement can really help us."

"The stick, the fire to create a sense of urgency for Alsco to take action is the threat of eminent domain," Rhamey said.

Emphasis mine. There it is, ladies & gentlemen. The use of eminent domain here is not seen as being done for a public use. It's a negotiation tool. It's extortion made legal because it's a government agency doing it with the blessing of a wrong-headed Supreme Court majority who clearly can't understand explicit language in the Constitution. The developer has been unable to buy the property on its own so it wants to bring in muscle to force the property owner to sign on the dotted line, and that is the only concern here. Public use be damned. This is exactly the kind of thing the dissenting judges warned about in the Kelo case and its happening right on schedule.