In “Kansas’ new eminent domain law worries local governments” (7/2, Local), the beneficiaries of eminent domain abuse bemoan the state’s new restrictions as a roadblock to revitalization. Claims that the law will thwart attempts to condemn truly blighted property are categorically false.
Municipalities can still seize properties that are “unsafe for occupation by humans” under building codes. But the law no longer permits tax-hungry governments to declare perfectly fine homes and businesses “blighted” in order to condemn them for politically connected developers. This has clearly fueled their ire.
LaVert Murray, the Unified Government’s development director, even has the gall to say that the threat of condemnation can “persuade property owners to negotiate more fairly.” But as any official knows, that threat gives the government the upper hand and is used to bully property owners into bowing to public force and selling against their will.
Homeowners and small business owners have suffered for far too long under Kansas’ formerly broad definition of “blight.” Property owners should ignore the self-interested fretting of the abusers of eminent domain and be confident that in the Sunflower State, a person’s home is his castle.
Castle Coalition coordinator
Institute for Justice