Lydia Culp


Under current takings doctrine, governments can identify entire neighborhoods as “blighted,” condemn the private property within, and transfer it to another private owner who will use the land in a more economically advantageous way. This causes injustice by incentivizing governments and developers to target poor and vulnerable neighborhoods. And by letting governments and developers evade market forces, buy land at a bargain, and afford to take on more projects than they can manage effectively, it causes inefficiency. Economic development takings, when not abused, can help revitalize downtrodden neighborhoods, so an outright ban is not the answer. Neither is relying on state legislation to address the problem: since property cannot move, federalism’s exit option does not help someone whose home has been condemned. Federal legislation that encourages revitalization, while discouraging abuse, would strike the right balance. Accordingly, this Note proposes a federal conditional spending bill that disincentivizes economic development takings while incentivizing and equipping local government actors to address community-revitalization needs.

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