California governor Jerry Brown struck a decisive blow against crony capitalism in 2011. He did this by removing the official redevelopment agencies in the state. This helped to forestall predatory property development for over a decade. However, with the rise of a new bill called AB 1476, crony capitalism may return.
What is the AB 1476 assembly bill?
AB 1476 is a new assembly bill that may assist in the reinvigoration of notoriously contentious eminent domain laws. If enacted, it may lead to the reinstatement of California redevelopment agencies. Many housing and development experts fear the bill will bring them back exactly as they were. This means all of the issues associated with them will also reappear.
The idea has always been to combat blight growth in residential areas. However, the theory of eminent domain pays little more than lip service to the real problem. Displaced homeowners will continue to suffer the consequences of this theory when it translates into action.
How eminent domain conflicts with property rights
Eminent domain has long been a thorn in the side of property rights advocates in California. This is primarily because the state development agencies made it easy for crony capitalists to prosper. These property development entrepreneurs were notorious for using eminent domain to create an unfair advantage.
The idea was to buy up properties in a “blighted area”, regardless of the actual condition of that area. Once they did so, they could then turn around and offer the property to a previously alerted client. This client could buy the property, develop it however they wished, and maintain or sell it for a considerable profit.
Residential areas in the state have been negatively affected. People have been displaced from their homes and forced to relocate. Property values have skyrocketed, pricing people out of the areas they grew up in. This is one of the unpleasant legacies of eminent domain and the source of the real danger of AB 1476.