"Public power, private gain"

By DANA BERLINER, INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE - April 2003 - The Court described the power of eminent domain—where the government takes someone’s property for a “public use”—as “the despotic power.” Eminent domain has the potential to destroy lives and livelihoods by uprooting people from their homes and businesspeople from their shops. With eminent domain, the government can force a couple in their 80s to move from their home of 50 years. Eminent domain is the power to evict a small family business, even if that means the business will never reopen.

The danger of such an extreme power led the authors of the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions to limit the power of eminent domain in two ways. First, the government had to pay “just compensation.” And second, even with just compensation, the government could take property only for “public use.” To most people, the meaning of “public use” is fairly obvious—things like highways, bridges, prisons, and courts. View the report >>

"Redevelopment: The unknown government"

There is an unknown government in California.

This unknown government currently consumes 10% of all property taxes statewide - $2.1 billion in 2001. It has a total indebtedness of over $51 billion. It is supported by a powerful Sacramento lobby, backed by an army of lawyers, consultants, bond brokers and land developers. Unlike new counties, cities and school districts, it can be created without the vote of the citizens affected. Unlike other governments, it can incur bonded indebtedness without voter approval. View the report >>

City officials could soon find themselves defending contradictory claims: On one hand, as [San Jose Mayor Ron] Gonzales often says, San Jose is a safe, livable city, but on the other hand, it has concluded that 20 neighborhoods are so blighted they "burden"the community.

- Mike Zapler, San Jose Mercury News - Aug 11, 2002