Friday, June 24, 2005

More on the Kelo decision

Instapundit has a nice (and balanced) roundup of the blog reactions this morning. One interesting point made is that if we're now going to have an eminent domain free-for-all, a lot of downtown churches may find their buildings condemned to make way for, say, loft condos. The urban poor will, as usual, be the most vulnerable--removed to make way for WalMart and the like.

Planners first arrived on the nation's radar screen during the Urban Renewal era, and to this day are often associated with "slum" clearance. For the uninitiated, that process involved the systematic denial of capital ("redlining") to urban poor and lower-middle class homeowners, and subsequent official designation of their neighborhoods as "blight", allowing them to be condemned wholesale to make way for public housing ("the projects") Kelo opens the door to a reprise, but on a far larger scale since this time the so-called blight will be targetted for replacement not by underfunded and politically unpopular public housing, but commercial development that makes money for everyone, especially local government.

Becoming publicly associated with another wave of slum clearance would be suicidal for the planning profession. We would be more than well-advised to keep a comfortable distance from development proposals that hinge on Kelo-based eminent domain rulings.