January 09, 2005
Is there any entity which does not have eminent domain powers?
I was reading this column by real estate writer Nancy Sarnoff about a group of folks from a neighborhood near where I work trying to fight against the construction of a big Med Center parking garage when I came across this tidbit:
Just like the city of Houston, the Medical Center has the ability to acquire property through eminent domain, which allows it to sidestep deed restrictions.
Umm. Last I checked, the Texas Medical Center was not a govenrment agency. Why does it have the power of eminent domain? Am I the only person in Houston who didn't know about this? Who else has this capability?
Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 09, 2005 to Elsewhere in Houston
actually Charles, I have eminent domain. I just haven't found any land worth taking over yet. Drop me a tip if you've got a lead... ;)
Well, I don't know anything about Houston but what you describe is not uncommon. I lived in Seattle for many years and followed many land-use battles there. I know for certain that both the Port of Seattle and the University of Washington have the power of eminent domain. Because they were certainly taking over private property in their expansion efforts. The Port of Seattle to expand SeaTac Airport and the Univ. of Washington as it grew into residential neighborhoods to the south and west of the main campus.
Can't speak for houston but in Indiana, public utilities have power of eminent domain and they have abused it.
This was not a topic I expected to you to discuss.
Private Property rights have been abused for far too long.
The Texas Legislature gave the TMC specific athority.
There are over 1,000 entities in Harris County with taxing authority, and nearly all have the power to condemn private property.
It is almost as if one must file a law suit in order to establish if an entity does not have the authority.
Recently, there was a ruling that either the Uptown or some other "boutique" group did not have the power to condemn property, especially if they did not have a specific use for it.
METRO has the right to condemn everything within a 1,500-foot radius of a tram station.
They can use taxpayer resources to take property, then sell it to speculators.
Such is the case of HISD. They condemned all the single-family properties bounded by W. Alabama, Yorktown, Hidalgo, and McCulloch Circle. Recently, HISD decided that they did not need all the land, and will sell over 1/3 of the land to a developer for a huge "profit" per square foot.
The state created several huge management/redevelopment districts around the city. The appointees on these boards are typically not interested in the hardship they cause.
Which causes one to wonder who's watching out for whom?
TMC is something like an incorporated village within the boundaries of the City. They have been given many independent powers by the legislation because our wise city planners post-WWII realized that there was a huge opportunity to make Houston a medical Mecca, and the best way to do that would be to allow a quasi-cooperative certain extraordinary powers to do what's best for the Med Center as a whole.
An interesting fact about TMC is that they own most of the property in the Med Center. Many of the hospitals are effectively living on TMC property.
TMC has its own general counsel, too.
Not accusing anyone of eminent domain abuse, but that's an issue where civil-liberties liberals will often find common cause with property-rights conservatives. That goes for asset forfeiture, too.
Probably a more fruitful area for Democrats to "reach across the aisle" to work with the GOP than those typically suggested by conservative hardliners (abortion, gays, etc.)
Hopefully your articles will help people retain
their Constitutional rights as well as to keep
the home they have. I am so concerned because I
am a council member in a small community which I
have have loved since childhood. And this council
is trying to bring TIF and Redevelopment into our
community along with eminent domain. I have been
reading horror stories of what havoc this has
caused across our nation. Thank you very much for
this task you have taken on Mary Correll