NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

From Private Property to Parking Lots

April 22, 2002

If a business wants more parking, the easiest way is to get government to forcibly take neighboring land from its owners and give it to the business. The Cato Institute's Doug Bandow says such actions are occurring in nearly every state -- despite the fact that while the Constitution requires compensation for property taken for public purpose, it doesn't authorize taking for private benefit.

For example:

  • The Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., wanted a parking lot; so it got the Southwestern Illinois Development Agency to propose taking the property of the next-door metal recycling facility.
  • In New Jersey, a "development agency" sought to seize the home of Vera Coking to build a parking lot for Donald Trump's casino.
  • The Mississippi Development Authority is attempting to take three homes for a parking lot and access road for a Nissan auto plant.
  • The New London Development Corp., a private agency, has condemned seven homes in New London, Conn. -- half for parking lots for new office buildings; the rest for "park support," which could be more parking or retail stores.
  • And Mesa, Ariz., is attempting to seize a family-owned brake shop to give to a developer to construct an Ace Hardware store.

The Castle Coalition, a national network of citizen activists, has published a list of the worst cases of inappropriate government takings. This includes:

  • The attempt by Riviera Beach, Fla., to condemn 1,700 buildings and displace 5,000 residents to build a commercial and industrial development.
  • Merriam, Kan., seized the property of a used-car dealership to sell to a neighboring BMW dealership so that it could expand.
  • In New Cassel, N.Y., the North Hempstead Community Development Agency grabbed land from St. Luke's Pentecostal Church to use for private retail development.
  • And Hurst, Texas, seized 127 homes to allow expansion of a mall.

Source: Doug Bandow (Cato Institute), "The forgotten human right,", April 17, 2002; Dana Berliner, "Government Theft: The Top 10 Abuses of Eminent Domain," March 2002, Castle Coalition.


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