Outside the Beltway: The Blight Mongers Lose in California

Alex Adrianson /

In California, there’s never been a tougher time to be in the business of taking private property from one person and giving it to another. First, Governor Jerry Brown proposed eliminating the state’s 400 some redevelopment agencies. Now, the agencies have been told by the courts that declaring blight just won’t do: They actually have to prove it before they can use eminent domain.

The Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London said that economic development was a valid use of eminent domain, as long as the government is following a “comprehensive development plan.” California, however, enacted its own laws to protect property owners from eminent domain abuse, and included in those protections is a requirement that blight has to be demonstrated. An April decision by the Superior Court of California has put teeth in those protections. (more…)