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December 7, 2009

It came from the Blogosphere...

Willets Point United, Call Governor Paterson today!

This week, New York Governor David Paterson committed to ordering an impartial and thorough review of the Atlantic Yards project. As we e-mailed you about last week, New York’s highest court upheld the condemnations of privately owned homes and small businesses to make way for developer Bruce Ratner’s massive Atlantic Yards project.

It is critical that the governor intervene to stop these condemnations immediately.

Please call Governor Paterson right now at 518-474-8390 and thank him for his commitment to ordering a review of the Atlantic Yards project. Ask him that he stop the entire process while the review goes forward, particularly the condemnation of private property. Stress that in the middle of the state’s fiscal crisis, it doesn’t make sense to give a private developer $100 million for a wildly unpopular, pie-in-the-sky project. Remind him of the barren fields in Fort Trumbull – that could be the future of Brooklyn.

Next American City, Eminent Domain: Can We Define Blighted?

It is a rare moment when I agree with Clarence Thomas. And 43 states have now taken measures to protect private-property rights.

But I don’t believe that New York State is one of them. And just around the holidays, New York’s Court of Appeals announced that the state could exercise eminent domain in claiming land for the Atlantic Yards project. And thus it ruled that the neighborhood in questions was “blighted.”

I used to live half a block from Atlantic Yards and I take issue with the notion that it is a blighted neighborhood. It’s not a pretty area, but there is a pretty successful shopping mall, independent stores, bars, and restaurants all in the vicinity.

Commenter Norman Oder posts:

Regarding that Atlantic Yards photo, keep in mind that only the foreground/right is part of the Atlantic Yards site, Vanderbilt Avenue between Pacific and Dean streets, and that some buildings already have been demolished.

The left (east) side of Vanderbilt Avenue is not part of the site. Nor is the background/right, which includes thriving businesses along Vanderbilt Avenue.

Should the project continue, Vanderbilt between Pacific and Dean will become part of a surface parking lot for more than 1000 cars.

Hub and Spokes, Is Blight the New Eminent Domain

I deal with this issue a lot in my day to day work, but this really gets to the issue of who is defining blight and for who? Usually projects that are initiated in the community, or have strong community support, never tread down this path because they don't have to. Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn is a great example of not getting community buy in or input early on and had resulted in law suits. When the word blight is used, nine out of ten times it is because someone from the outside is moving in.

Gideon's Trumpet, An Afterthought on the New York Kaur Case

It now remains to be seen whether the New York Court of Appeals (that state’s highest court) will take the Kaur case. If it does, that may provide yet another opportunity for that court to redeem itself by retreating from its extremist position of rubber-stamping anything and everything that New York condemnors come up with. This is not hyperbole. How bad can it get? Pretty bad. Recall the infamous Rosenthal & Rosenthal case in which a federal court in New York ruled that even if, as alleged by the property owner, the redevelopment project was tainted by corruption taking the form of favoritism intended to confer a windfall on politically well-connected folks, whereby project boundaries were drawn so as to include a taking of the subject property for their benefit, that would not affect the “public use” nature of the taking and would not be a proper reason to interdict the taking.

But in the Kaur case, the New York Appellate Division did examine the unseemly facts underlying the decision to condemn and found them to give rise to a miasma of favoritism, conflict of interest, procedural mistreatment of the condemnees, and deliberate blighting of the area. What now? Can New York’s highest court now ignore these revelations, and pretend that it’s businss as usual? We hope not.


But if I were one of those free agents trying to choose between the two New York area squads, I’d have to go with the Nets. Though they’re struggling now, Jersey arguably has a better young core that has more potential.

NoLandGrab: Struggling? That's a really kind way to describe a team that has lost 95% of its games.

Posted by eric at December 7, 2009 11:23 AM