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My Appearance at the Case Western Reserve University Conference on "Corporations and their Communities":

This Friday, I will be speaking on the Case Western Reserve University School of Law conference on "Corporations and their Communities" (schedule available here). My presentation will be on the use of eminent domain and "economic development" takings to try to entice corporations to stay in a given community or come in. I will discuss why I think using eminent domain for such purposes is generally undesirable, not only from the standpoint of fairness to property owners but even with respect to the goal promoting longterm economic development in the community. Some of the points I plan to make are based on this article. I will also briefly discuss the extensive legislative backlash against economic development takings in the in the wake of Kelo v. City of New London (analyzed in this paper, on which I will soone be posting a major revision).

If you are a VC reader in the Cleveland area or otherwise interested in these issues, I hope you will drop by and check out the panel. The conference also includes many well-known scholars, including co-conspirator and Case Western professor Jonathan Adler.

alias:
Once Coach Belichick finds out about this Cleveland trip, you'll be benched.
1.23.2008 3:25pm
Ilya Somin:
Once Coach Belichick finds out about this Cleveland trip, you'll be benched.

I'll be fine so long as I don't take Jessica Simpson with me.
1.23.2008 4:13pm
Brent Greer (mail) (www):
Eugene,
I will try to make it. I'm down in Columbus but an avid reader of VC. I followed Kelo closely because I felt at the time it had implications for firearms confiscations in states of emergency, or registration/confiscation schemes. I'm no attorney, but always saw a connection of sorts. Im also a commercial/investment real estate agent, so development panels like this are of great interest professionally, as well.
1.23.2008 6:35pm
Gideon Kanner (mail):
You might also mention that this is a bad idea because commercial redevelopment projects sometimes fail and leave the sponsor cities holding the bag, or the redeveloper gives it a shot, decides the grass is greener elsewhere and splits. The NY Times reported a while back on the phenomenon of empty, decaying, "demalled" malls. Take a look at City of Yonkers v. Morris (N.Y.) and compare City of Yonkers v. Otis Elevator Co. (2d Cir.). The best commentary on this problem that I know of can be found in the concluding part of Regus v. City of Baldwin Park (Cal.App). Indeed, the notorious Poletown case did not do any good for either General Motors or Detroit, both of which have been declining consistently. In spite of Detroit's expenditure of hundreds of millions (in 1980s dollars) GM securities are now "junk" and Detroit is the country's urban basket case that is still hemorrhaging population.

The reason why these projects cannot work consistently is that ever since the 1950s urban populations have been encouraged by government policy (notably subsidies and tax breaks) to leave cities and move to the suburbs where living has been better, safer, and more lucrative. Those populations have also been pushed out by urban riots (starting in the 1960s), busing, an influx of the underclass into the cities, the catastrophic decline in safety and quality of urban schools, the increase in crime in the 1970s, the decline of intra-urban transportation, and --Ta,da! -- urban redevelopment that for decades has been an efficient destruction machine of low and moderately priced urban housing. So that putting up a few urban malls or doentown high-rises may produce some profits for the redevelopers in a narrow urban area, but it does nothing to revive a city that cannot thrive without a middle class population that has largely left for the suburbs years ago. Those downtown office buildings put up by redevelopment agencies are filled by day by commuting suburbaniotes who wouldn't be caught dead living in the city and who at the end of the day go back to the suburbs where they live, spend, and pay taxes.
1.23.2008 7:09pm