Professor Somin on Condemnation of "Blighted" Property and Eminent Domain Reform Efforts

The eminent domain decision issued by the Ohio Supreme Court in Norwood v. Horney may be the most important since the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. New London, writes Professor Ilya Somin in an August 2006 issue of Legal Times. Somin goes on to say that eminent domain abuse "cannot be effectively addressed without limiting blight condemnations, which have caused more harm than any other kind of taking."

Blight Sweet Blight, Legal Times, August 14, 2006. by Ilya Somin.

"Two states (Florida and Utah) have banned blight condemnations entirely. This approach may be the best solution because condemnation is rarely the best way to eliminate blight. State and local governments have many other tools for promoting economic growth in poor areas. Alternatives include tax breaks, deregulation, transfer of abandoned property to new owners, and enforcement of laws against buildings that cause public nuisances, spread disease, or become safety hazards.

"Indeed, condemnation may actually impede the elimination of blight by rendering property rights insecure. Most development economists now agree that strong protection for property rights is a key prerequisite for economic growth in poor areas. Owners who fear the loss of their rights are less likely to develop their property or establish businessess. The threat of blight condemnation thus may well deter productive economic activity in poor neighborhoods more than it stimulates it."

Read the op-ed