Something is Rotten in Montgomery: Yesterday’s Eminent Domain Meeting

Many property owners came forward to tell their horror stories at the meeting the State Advisory Committee (which I chair) of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Something is rotten in the home of the modern civil rights movement. I’ll post photos later today (time permitting). Here is the story in the Montgomery Advertiser:

Two men, Jimmie McCall and Jim Peera, told the committee that the city of Montgomery was using these ordinances to take land away from low-income minority property owners.

Both men have a long history with the city, and each has litigation against the city pending.

Peera is the owner of Avon Court Apartments, which he noted was about a block away from where Rosa Parks lived. The city had a portion of the apartment complex demolished after certain units were found to be unsafe.

Peera, who is from Africa, said he had a $1 million plan to revitalize the property and turn it into affordable housing but that the city blocked that project by rezoning the property from multi-family to single-family dwellings.

“This shouldn’t be happening in Rosa Parks’ backyard,” Peera told the committee members.

“I believe it’s what I call the backdoor to eminent domain. It’s all about control,” said Peera, who lives in Atlanta.

In McCall’s case, the black Montgomery resident’s would-be home was torn down before it was finished after the city’s housing codes office found it to be unsafe. He had planned to build his “dream home” on a two-acre property at 3118 Woodley Road.

McCall collects abandoned materials, like Southern Longleaf pinewood and old bricks, and resells them.

He had socked away a collection for himself and was keeping those materials on his property as he worked to build the home.

“This was going to be our dream home, as far as dream houses go,” McCall told the committee. He was wearing a T-shirt that read “Hands off my home.”

David Beito is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and editor of the Independent book, The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society (with Peter Gordon and Alexander Tabarrok).
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