Well Over a Hundred on City Hall Steps (protest Eminent Domain Abuse)

More photos available at: http://www.pbase.com/jonathanbarkey/cityhall

A broad-based coalition of property owners, tenants, advocates, elected officials and citizens gathered yesterday on the overn-like steps of New York’s City Hall to voice opposition to epidemic abuse of eminent domain in New York City and New York State.

The group, united under the banner New Yorkers Against Eminent Domain Abuse, gathered to mark the two-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s much reviled decision, Kelo v. City of New London. Since that decision was rendered, 38 states have enacted eminent domain reform legislation, but New York, widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading abusers of eminent domain, has yet to lift a finger to defend the rights of homeowners, business owners, and tenants.

“We haven’t seen this level of eminent domain abuse in New York City since the days of Robert Moses,” explained Lumi Michelle Rolley, contributor to NoLandGrab.org. “Mayor Bloomberg’s policy has been to threaten the use of eminent domain to force property owners to sell and to thwart every effort towards legislative reform both in Washington and Albany.”

“The abuse of eminent domain is an abuse of our fundamental constitutional rights and must be opposed like all other attempts to violate constitutional rights. Our government has no business forcing us to sell our properties to benefit their developer friends,” said Daniel Goldstein, a Brooklyn homeowner fighting to protect his home from abusive government seizure. “Everywhere developers want to build, government officials are paving the way with phony blight studies to accommodate them. We are sick and tired of the Bloomberg Administration’s policy of eminent domain abuse, and it has got to stop.

Many of the participating groups intend to coalesce formally to raise awareness of New York’s politicians’ addiction to eminent domain abuse. Participating groups cite these ten reasons the current situation must be reformed:

*According to a comprehensive study performed by the Institute for Justice, New York State remains one of the leading abusers of eminent domain in the nation.

*Eminent domain abuse in New York has increased dramatically in the past three years.

*In the two years since the US Supreme Court Kelo decision, 38 states have passed eminent domain reform legislation, while New York State’s politicians have refused to act.

*If the City and State can seize people’s homes and businesses for private development, then no one in New York is safe from eminent domain abuse.

*Government should not collude with private developers at the expense of its citizens

*Wherever developers see an attractive piece of real estate, the City or State accommodates them by issuing trumped-up declarations that the neighborhood is “blighted.”

*Our homes, our stores, our apartments and businesses are not for sale to politically connected developers.

*Mayor Bloomberg’s policy has been to recklessly misuse eminent domain and thwart legislative attempts to curb its abuse.

*Any neighborhood undergoing rezoning is ripe for eminent domain abuse.

*Property rights are fundamental constitutional rights.

Participating elected officials and organizations included:
Councilmember Letitia James, Councilmember Tony Avella, Councilmember John Liu’s Chief of Staff, Councilmember Charles Barron, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, NoLandGrab.org,
Historic Districts Council, Fifth Avenue Committee, New York Community Council, Society for the Architecture of the City, NY Solidarity Coalition with Katrina and Rita Survivors, Willets Point Business Association, Harlem Tenants Council, Coalition to Preserve Community, West Harlem Coalition, 550 Riverside, 55/69 Tiemann Pl. Tenants Alliance, Coalition To Save The East Village, Coalition for a Livable West Side, Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development, Duffield Street Block Association, Green Party of Brooklyn, Park Slope Greens,
United Neighbors for Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, Brownstone Revival Coalition, Fans for Fair Play.
For an in-depth report on the rally, visit Norman Oder’s Atlantic Yards Report at http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2007/06/rally-against-eminent-domain-abuse-four.html

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