Regulatory Taking and Columbia University

Background

In June 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote upheld the use of eminent domain by the city of New London, CT. (Kelo vs. City of New London) by saying economic development was a public purpose thereby giving government the authority to acquire property, affirming decades of previous litigation on this issue. By the end of 2006 thirty-five states enacted eminent domain restrictions and related reform of regulatory takings

In that year, three of the four takings measures on state ballots were rejected. Most notable was the way Oregon voters repealed a takings initiative, Measure 37.  The defeat of California’s Prop 98 in 2007 signaled another setback for advocates of regulatory takings. Often dubbed Kelo-plus and Kelo 3rd Round most of the initiatives seek compensation for lost value due to land-use regulation. To date only one effort in Arizona stimulated by Howard Rich, a New York real estate investor and libertarian crusader has succeeded. But the bottom line is basic.  In most cases regulation can be proven to increase value. In February 2008 the New York State Bar Association’s task force completed its recommendations on the use of eminent domain. 

Community organizations throughout the country are raising money and filing proposed ballot initiatives with their state attorney general that prohibit use of eminent domain for transferring property from one private entity to another without added protections. The eminent domain debate in New York should examine its long history of condemnations for economic development.  In this light and from a strictly legal point of view there are three areas rich with potential litigation including the use of referendum.  These are the historical uses of eminent domain, the fairness of direct and indirect compensation, and targeting of low-income and minority populations.  Unlike other states, the one most likely to succeed in New York will involve added protections to residential and business tenants in reassessing just compensation issues.

Would pursuing the tenant protection component yield valuable community economic development objectives? Hard to say, but both sides might be more recognizable to the average research effort by viewing the work of Georgetown Law (here). The Scholarly Commons site helps to define hairline legal differences between “regulatory taking” and “eminent domain” in the proposed reforms of Oregon’s Measure 37 (here).  In this particular case, government becomes liable for attorney fees if the court award is greater than initial government offer.

Headline: “Citizens call for reform of the reform.” Timothy Sandefur, Author of Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America www.instituteforjustice.org

This site has links to www.cato.org, Howard Rich is a board member (Cato).  He likes how the term “property rights” strikes a cord among voters.  They also have a hot selling t-shirt that reads, blight me. It all seems exquisitely hypocritical, but why?

Given the historically poor performance of government in protecting individuals in the short term for vague long term benefits, the public’s opinion can easily be brought to define Kelo as a decision that betrays them — the small businessperson and working class residents, as well as, weaken legitimate efforts to erase racially imposed economic disparities. But, the dissent of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is probably best overall.

“Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner. . . . Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory. . . . The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.”

Sandra Day O’Connor

How Does this “big picture” Policy Fit Manhattanville?
What does it do to the design of a place?

How about seeing INTERNATIONAL HOUSE as an example? Located at 500 Riverside Drive, 122nd Street) New York, NY 10027 www.ihouse-nyc.org. This is a stretch, but Columbia offers a very nice “extra-large” apartment with private bathroom at $12,090/month and other less luxurious accommodations to full-time graduate students. They are available only during the academic year; undergraduates are welcome in the summer.  Applications are required if stays of 30 days or more are intended. 

Columbia is extending housing privileges in order to acquire social capital in the tuition business. So, here is the thing, Barbara and Howard Rich are among many large real estate holders who are supporters of university sponsored Fulbright Scholarships and the programmed-education with housing market in New York City. Almost every university in New York City is a sponsor of this program as it brings in high paying clients (students of all ages) to the fold. Via: www.metrointl.org .  Surprise!  Manhattanville is a max hit zone for housing such as the above. The neighborhood is a Motel 6 and Columbia is the Ritz-Carlton.

Is there any other way to look at the this? There must be a way to realign the forces at work here.

2 thoughts on “Columbia’s Manhattanville

  1. Research Interest

    Housing as Dormitory. Urban Design Implications

    The rapid turnover, congregate living styles, and a guaranteed, self-renewing supply for rented accomodations all suggest a submarket of housing based on the idea of “replacement demand”. The committee needs to find researchers who have taken up the task of defining the impact of universities on the NYC housing market.

    Any leads are appreciated so that “findings” can be explored.

    Like

  2. The New York State Bar Association was the only state bar in the country to appoint a task force specifically to study eminent domain issues following the public reaction to the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The interim report, issued in March 2006, contained eight recommendations that were adopted by the State Bar House of Delegates. In February 2008 the final report, with five additional recommendations, was approved by the House of Delegates. A summary of the thirteen recommendations are available at the following blog address:

    http://lawoftheland.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/new-york-state-bar-association-task-force-on-eminent-domain-issues-final-report/

    Like

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