Tom Bier on eminent domain and the definition of "blight"

Submitted by Martha Eakin on Sun, 07/30/2006 - 19:13.

    Given the recent court decision on eminent domain and the upcoming decisions on how to define "blight", CSU professor Tom Bier's testimony on the issues is important reading.  Go to and click on "testimony".  And while you're there do some other reading.  Clearly the state's policies encourage sprawl.  Sprawl is not good for our air, our land, or our water.  We need a coup in Columbus.

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What is blight? Warrensville at Cedar or Euclid and Lakeview?

I think eminent domain is important - it was necesssary for clearing right of ways for critical nationwide expansion needs like railroads, public utilities, sewers. But that is not how it is being used in the development projects coming up these days, and that is too bad. The use is so uncreative and inapropriate. There are two hot zones along the Cleveland East Cleveland borders that are really blighted. They have a high percentage - over 50% - of abandoned, vacant and unhealthy properties - probably over 50% could be siezed just through normal court processes - very high crime areas - they just need to be completely cleared out - perhaps 10-20% of the actual structures can be saved. You can see where I'm talking about on my Visualizing the Optimal East Cleveland posting here and below - we need the port authority to use their might and bonds and these developers to step up and propose 1,000 new housing units to infill throughtout these red zones, with Port Bond money - they can use their development money and resources for something worthwhile for a change. We can make this happen - more to post in 7GEN Planning.


Disrupt IT




Norm, rail roads and aqueducts aside, your seeming enthusiasm to use ED in E.Cleve I believe is a mistake.  Take a look at any community that is vibrant – say Cambridge, Massachusetts or Berkeley, California.   They once had their down and out areas, but neither  City  came in and took 1,000 lots for public development.  ED in Infrastructure is one thing, and ED in residential and business development is another.  I believe government involvement in infrastructure is beneficial because infrastructure, to be efficient, needs to be a monopoly. (parallel competing turnpikes make little sense) but any development which doesn’t require a line of site corridor – (ie canal, road, rail road, etc) to be efficient, must be developed by inspiration of individual investors and participants.  
When E Cleveland has deteriorated low enough, developers will see the value.   Sort of a sad human value way of doing things, but on a cellular level, we don’t replace our own human cells until they are damaged or aged…

I'll be building the case for this area, eminent or not

We'll see how this plays out - it could be that code enforcement and strong courts are enough - we're looking at a neighborhood that is so run down that I doubt many buildings would ever pass inspection for basic code. We need to add to the inspection process certificates for occupancy based on public health - lead free is one standard all properties should pass. If not, they need to be fixed up (which can then be added to the tax bill) or they get recycled - if any are worth saveing they can be saved. But then we also need a transformational project for this site, which is cemetery-locked and has bad energy - the best thing I can come up with is mixed business/retail, which is needed in this area - so I see a mixed use that is good for everyone in the area, and solves a major real blight area... talk to Phil abut that neighborhood behind him... whether it requires eminent domain or if people will just all agree to the common good I don't know... how well enforcement will work I don't know. But it is time to get this area moving forward.

Disrupt IT

emergency roads

One of the eminent domain issues on blight:
"Keeping the property in the hands of the owner until all appeals are exhausted, except in cases of “quick-takes,” a special category that allows the state to seize land for roads and other emergencies"
Since when is a road an emergency? Don't we already have enough roads? Can't we just fix the ones we have and then rethink the transport issue?
Can someone explain why funds allocated by the government for road building cannot be invested until good transportation planning options can be achieved and agreed upon? This spend it or lose it mentality seems to be destructive rather than constructive. What "rule" are we abiding? What if we put that money in bonds and took our time coming up with a really good solution and then a reasonable strategy for implementation? OK I am naive, (I had to put that in because it was an option), but someone out there knows that and can give me the answer. I just know you can.