Written by Mike Martin
City of Columbia has its own Prop 1, to push back on Blight and Eminent Domain
COLUMBIA, 3/27/13 (Op Ed) -- Vote YES on City of Columbia Proposition 1, which says that the Home Rule Charter -- Columbia's version of a Constitution -- would prohibit the city from using eminent domain to acquire property for economic development purposes with the intent that the property be transferred to a private developer.
It would also prohibit Blight Decrees used in economic incentive programs like EEZ from additional use as steps toward eminent domain.
Anyone who wants to know how powerful this Proposition will be need only read Hank Waters' NO vote recommendation in today's Trib. Waters' family greatly benefitted from blight and eminent domain during the Sharp End debacle of 40-50 years ago. Naturally, Hank likes the loosey-goosey status quo about this most powerful of government powers.
The Charter Amendment -- not to be confused with Boone County Proposition 1, the 911 tax increase -- was a Columbia City Council attempt to turn back the nasty consequences blight -- under state law -- can have for property owners.
It's an excellent attempt indeed -- maybe even historic.
If City of Columbia Proposition 1 passes, expect Columbia to become a model for the rest of the nation, which is struggling in city after city about how to use eminent domain for public purposes only, and not as another developer giveaway with particularly harsh consequences.