Property Rights

Your home is your castle—unless the government thinks it should be a shopping center. Learn how citizens and local governments can protect homes and businesses from government takeovers.

<p>Your home is your castle—unless the government thinks it should be a shopping center. Learn how citizens and local governments can protect homes and businesses from government takeovers.</p>

Got curb appeal?  Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London, America has seen a proliferation of private property takings for things as insignificant as a property’s appearance.  Local governments are abusing their power of eminent domain to create new shopping malls, condos, and industrial parks.  Fortunately, the abuse can stop at Arizona’s doorstep.

On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the city of New London's use of eminent domain to condemn several properties the city claimed stood in the way of additional tax revenues and new jobs. However, Justice Stevens, author of the majority opinion in Kelo, explained that nothing precludes states from restricting their takings power. Doing so is a first step toward assuring homeowners that they can keep what they own. Nationwide, states have accepted Justice Stevens' invitation and proposed statutory amendments restricting eminent domain authority. Now, Arizona should take the opportunity to reexamine its slum clearance and redevelopment statutes to help ensure the security of private property.

The Arizona Supreme Court yesterday rejected Tempe's request for a special action in Tempe v. Valentine.  At issue was whether Tempe's proposal to condemn private property to make way for a developer to erect a shopping mall met the constitutional definition of "public use."  At the trial court, Tempe lost; prompting the city to file its special action petition. 

PHOENIX -- On Tuesday, February 22, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Kelo v. City of New London, marking the first time in 50 years the court has considered the meaning of the Public Use Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

PHOENIX-Arizona law enforcement agencies have used a legal tactic known as civil asset forfeiture to confiscate over $64.5 million of private property since 2000, a new Goldwater Institute report documents.  Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement to confiscate property connected to a crime without ever filing criminal charges against the property owner.

The power of eminent domain was granted to governments for the purpose of constructing public infrastructure but has increasingly been used as a redevelopment tool to transfer private property from one owner to another. Although there are legitimate reasons for invoking eminent domain, the current practice of condemning private property in the name of redevelopment is rarely about building public infrastructure and regularly about turning areas that produce little tax revenue into high revenue generators. Taking a property owner's brake shop or barber shop because it is too small, too old, too ugly, or another party has a "better" use for the land violates fundamental constitutional principles, creates uncertainty about property rights, and can deter individuals from opening or expanding their businesses.

Many Arizona property owners have learned the hard way that municipalities are free to change zoning classifications and thereby "downzone" parcels of land. Also, local governments may change the zoning restrictions or requirements included in zoning ordinances. Such government actions frequently diminish the value of landowner's properties and destroy investments.

Study Recommends Repeal of 1997 Redevelopment Statutes

Phoenix, AZ-Are property owners in danger of having their land taken by the government to make way for hardware stores and strip malls? In a study released today by the Goldwater Institute, land use and zoning attorney Jordan Rose argues that takings for private use are on the upswing in Arizona. Rose blames the 1997 redevelopment statutes, saying they have "gutted the Arizona Constitution's prohibition against taking private property for private use."

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