The city of Savannah is making protecting eminent domain their top priority for the upcoming legislative session:
Opponents are gearing up to lobby the state legislature to curtail the use of eminent domain after a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year that allowed it for economic development.
Already, proposed bills that could stifle the city’s ability to redevelop neighborhoods sit in Atlanta waiting for a vote when the legislature convenes Jan. 9.
“A great deal is at stake because revitalization such as Cuyler-Brownville in all of its stages (and other projects) really depends upon the ultimate ability to get abandoned and derelict properties and get them back into affordable housing,” Brown said.
In Cuyler-Brownville, the city acquired 80 of 124 properties through eminent domain. All were vacant or dilapidated, the city said, and eminent domain was needed to clear cloudy titles. With the acquired property, 45 new “affordable” houses were built.
But they weren’t technically built by the city. After Savannah acquired those properties, private developers bought them and built houses under city supervision.
Maybe what’s happening in the case cited in Savannah is a good thing, but I think it’s dangerous to allow local governments to acquire property via eminent domain and then allow private developers to build on those properties. Not that I want the government to revitalize the property, but why not use other methods to encourage private people to develop these properties themselves?