Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Atlantic Yards" Back In Court

For those of you that despise gentrification and making one company wealthy at the expense of a community, today is crucial for the plaintiffs arguing against Forest City Ratner and Judge Garaufis' decision to allow the Atlantic Yards to be built as planned. Members of the community are going up against the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn the decision that basically said that it is okay to destroy a community if it makes the area more glitzy and glamorous.

From The Atlantic Yards Report:

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis already dismissed their case for a failure to state a claim, ruling that presence of some measure of public benefits—mass transit improvements, the removal of blight, subsidized housing, a sports facility, open space—trumped any allegation that the project might primarily confer a private benefit on developer Forest City Ratner.

There’s a difference, the plaintiffs argue in a final reply brief, and it has to do with process. Precedential cases, which drew on more egregious fact patterns—severe blight in Washington, DC (Berman), and a land oligopoly in Hawaii (Midkiff)—lead courts to defer to legislative determinations, as the Supreme Court in 2005 did in its narrow Kelo v. New London decision, upholding the use of eminent domain for economic development.

The brief says the courts must “resolve the obvious tension between and among” the three cases, which call for courts to defer to “a legislative determination that a taking serves a public purpose” but, as reaffirmed in Kelo, must look carefully at “plausible allegations that ostensibly ‘public’ purposes are pretextual and that the real purpose of a taking is to benefit a private developer.”

The plaintiffs--13 homeowners, business owners, residential and commercial tenants--suggest that, in this case, no deference is warranted, because “all of the indicia of legitimate public decisionmaking are absent, and most or all of the indicia of illegitimate private decisionmaking are present.”

The entire post is long and complex, but a good read for anyone that wants to understand the legitimate arguments of the plaintiffs. All they want is to be able to bring the case to court so that they can present the facts.

This isn't some frivolous lawsuit, it is a chance for the people of the community to speak out on what happens in their lives and the area around them. Allowing one company (and one man, Bruce Ratner) to be able to take people's property away from them so that he can make a profit is not only disgusting, it is un-American. The Appellate Court should at the very least allow the people to present their case.