The Hope partnership for Education, a religious organization, proposed to build a private independent middle school in a blighted neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 2002, the Hope Partnership asked the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia to acquire specific land for the project and sell it the Hope Partnership for a nominal price. The land included a house at 1839 North Eighth Street owned by XXXXX XXXXX, whose daughter Veronica loved there with her family. The Authority offered Smith $12,000 for the house and initiated a taking of the property.Smith filed a suit in a Pennsylvania state court against at Authority, admitting that the house was a "substandard structure in a blighted area," but arguing that the taking was unconstitutional because its beneficiary was private. The authority asserted that only the public purpose of the taking should be considered, not the status of the property's developer. On what basis can a government entity use the power of eminent domain to take property? what are the limits to this power? how should the court rule? why?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): California
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"Eminent Domain" - also called "condemnation" - is the power of local, state or federal government agencies to take private property for "public use" so long as the government pays "just compensation." The government can exercise its power of eminent domain even if the owner does not wish to sell his or her property. The power of eminent domain is very broad, but does have its limits. The power of the taking must be limited to situations where it will provide for a "Public use" which has generally been defined as anything with a public benefits such as churches, schools, roads, hospitals, etc. In addition the power of eminent domain is limited in the fact that the government must pay "Just Compensation" for the taking.
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that private property may not be taken for a public use without payment of "just compensation." Similarly, article I section 19 of the California Constitution provides that private property may not be taken or damaged by the government unless it pays "just compensation."
The items for which a property/business owner may generally attempt to seek just compensation are (1) real property, (2) improvements pertaining to realty (sometimes referred to as fixtures and equipment), and (3) business goodwill. Just compensation for these items is generally the "fair market value" of the item as of a particular date. Each of these items is discussed in further detail in the questions and answers which follow. In addition, occupants may be entitled to relocation benefits which are generally determined separately from just compensation.
Under the California Constitution, property and business owners are entitled to have just compensation determined by a jury.
The court should rule for XXXXX XXXXX based on the facts above for two reasons: 1) it is uncertain that this taking was for a public purpose. Although schools are generally considered a public purpose, here the facts state that it is a private school and thus this is arguable. 2) The government was likely not providing Mrs. Smith with Just Compensation for her home. Although the facts state that the home was not in the best condition and in a bad neighborhood....It is the year 2002 in the facts and I find it hard to believe that $12,000 is really the fair market value. Source: http://www.eminentdomainlaw.net/compensation.php
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