NY Supreme Court Votes to Evict Residents and Close Businesses

Not too long ago, PRA wrote a blog post about an ongoing battle in New York City regarding eminent domain. In summary, a private developer in New York wants to build a $4.9 billion dollar pro-basketball arena smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn. In order to do so, residents of that neighborhood are being evicted on grounds that the neighborhood has been “blighted”, a precedent set by the infamous case Kelo v. The City of New London (2005). Needless to say, the residents of the neighborhood believe they are being unfairly evicted and took their complaints to the New York Supreme Court.

After nearly six years of battling developer Bruce Ratner, the neighbors received a final hit this week as the Supreme Court handed down its decision. As was reported in the New York Daily News, judges gave the Atlantic Yards arena project the go-ahead on Monday (March 1). Though the tenants technically have a few months before they have to be out of their apartments and condos, Ratner announced that he plans on breaking ground as early as March 11. But the residents refuse to go quietly. One tenant exclaimed, “It feels like I live in a state run by crooks!” To some New Yorkers, however, the greatest loss is not the residential property, but Freddy’s Bar and Backroom – rated one of the Best Bars in Brooklyn by the New York Times and Esquire – which also sits smack in the middle of Ratner’s targeted area for development.

Eminent domain is an issue raging quietly all over America, from the court case in New York to legislation in Utah, to the White House attempting to bring millions of acres of land under federal control. The protection of private property rights is just as important as the debate on tax hikes and health care. Owning private property free of federal oversight is a key to economic development and growth, and has always been one of the critical components of American prosperity.

For more information about the great benefits of strong private property rights, be sure to check out the 2010 Property Rights Index at www.internationalpropertyrightsindex.org