Ballot Initiatives in 6 States Capitalize on Eminent Domain Outrage


One sentiment that has cut across party lines in the past year is eminent domain outrage. Libertarians and environmentalists, Nascar dads and the NAACP, everyone seems to object to Kelo v. New London, the Supreme Court decision that allows a city to force working class neighborhoods to sell out to developers.

A year ago, at a public hearing about New London, I saw a shaggy, bearded activist in Connecticut read what sounded like beat poetry about eminent domain. Rumor had it that Urban Outfitters was selling “Kelo” shirts.

Joking aside, now developers are taking advantage of the public opposition.

I wrote a couple weeks ago how one New York real-estate magnate paid $5 million to get a few eminent domain initiatives on the state ballot. Such initiatives are on the ballot in six states that if passed would cripple environmental land-use regulation, and cost the states billions of dollars.

Called pay-or-waive schemes, they require the government to compensate landowners for new regulations that devalue their property, or waive the regulations altogether. (In Oregon, which already has pay-or-waive, property owners in the past three months filed more than $5 billion in claims).

Here’s a rundown of the initiatives by state.

–April Rabkin

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