Matt Welch makes a super-important point about the Kelo decision in this L.A. Times column:
In California, private-property eminent domain transfers must be conducted under the legal cover of “blight,” which has come to mean “prime real estate in a rapidly gentrifying area.”
Recall that New London’s argument in Kelo hinged in part on the area they’re condemning having sub-par employment rates and property values for the state. The potential problem here’s obvious: An area starts gentrifying, and suddenly you can tag the relatively less chi-chi adjoining neighborhoods as “blighted” by comparison. Owners in those neighborhoods, reading the writing on the wall, may then be even more inclined to hang onto their properties, predicting they’ll be worth a good bit more in a few years. Depending on how well that expectation is priced into the housing market, the “just compensation” that ends up being assessed for eminent domain purposes may be a good deal less than what the property’s worth to the owner even without taking sentimental attachments into account.