February, 2009

Moving Past Kelo: A New Institution for Land Assembly--Collective Neighborhood Bargaining Associations

  • Eileen Norcross

    Senior Research Fellow
  • Robert H. Nelson

    Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
Key materials
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In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision approved the condemnation of private property for other private use, which involuntarily evicted homeowners in the City of New London. Many states quickly passed legislation that made these types of takings illegal.

Is there a solution that avoids the problems associated with both local government strong-arming residents out of their homes, and also many individual state’s approaches that often stop efficient land development?  This paper presents a third option to the black-and-white debate about property takings. 

As an alternative, this policy comment recommends that land owners form their own private organization—such as a collective neighborhood bargaining association (CNBA)—to negotiate with land developers.  If a reasonable offer for the neighborhood as a whole is received, the neighborhood property owners could then vote on whether to accept the offer.  Both the creation of a CNBA and the decision to accept a developer’s offer should each require high super-majority votes of approval but not unanimity.   The creation of such a process, which would require state or local legislative action, would facilitate better planned, more efficient, and more equitable development of American land areas.

Citation - Chicago Style

Nelson, Robert and Eileen Norcross. "Moving Past Kelo: A New Institution for Land Assembly -- Collective Neighborhood Bargaining Associations." Mercatus Policy Series, Policy Comment No. 23. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, February 2009.