My friend Brooks, lifelong Leucadian surfer and law student, sent me this interesting link to pacificlegal.org about an eminent domain case in Connecticut:
Pacific Legal Dot Org Website
City Officials Condemn Neighborhood to Benefit Private Developers and Businesses
Kelo v. City of New London
Status: PLF filed an amicus brief in support of petition which was granted on 9/28/04. PLF filed amicus brief on the merits in 12/04. Oral argument held 2/22/05; awaiting decision.
Contact: Timothy Sandefur
Phone: (916) 419-7111
Through eminent domain, government can “take” private property away from its owners no matter how dear that property is to them. However, condemnation power is subject to constitutional limits which must be rigorously enforced to prevent governments from so easily redistributing property from one private individual to another, or from one group to another, just to reward political favorites. That’s why the U.S. Constitution allows government to condemn property only for a “public use” (e.g., building schools and roads), and not for private uses. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in earlier cases that practically any general benefit to the public is a “public use.” This vague standard has given rise to countless cases in which perfectly good land is condemned for private benefit, but under the guise of “public use.”
In this case, city officials in New London, Connecticut, condemned a 29-acre neighborhood and plan to lease the property for $1 per year to several private developers, including the Pfizer pharmaceutical company, plus a business center, hotels, etc. Landowners challenged the condemnation, but the Connecticut Supreme Court held that the generalized public benefit is enough of a “public use” to satisfy the federal constitution’s public use clause.
PLF is supporting the landowners as amicus curiae in their petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court.click here to read PLF’s amicus brief.
While I don't believe that the Encinitas city council is vapid enough is raze Leucadia for a Costco or Wal*Mart, I am fearful that a corporate soulless sellout developer with poor architectual standards will destroy the area.