Journalist James Pethokoukis makes an excellent point about eminent domain’s threat to small business in a report at U.S. News and World Report, when he writes that fighting back can be effective:
“Truth is, when governments try to seize private property, business owners don’t have many options other than to sue the city or squeal to the media and raise public awareness. But those options can be effective. Late last month, a San Diego jury awarded $7.7 million to cigar-store owner Ahmed Mesdaq, who was forced to move after the city used its eminent domain powers to take his property. Although the city offered Mesdaq $3 million before the trial, the jury found that the offer took into account only the value of the property – not the value of the business due to its location and reputation.
Then there’s the story of Sean Wieting, who successfully fought an attempt to condemn his restaurant in Lincoln, Neb. He says energizing the public is key. ‘It would have cost me $120,000 to move, so I went on TV and handed out fliers to every single customer who came into my restaurant,’ says Wieting.”
This point about fighting back was echoed by business owner Nancy Kurdziel in my recent Small Business Trends Radio broadcast about eminent domain. She told how she mobilized the support of the NFIB, state legislators, and the general public (through a website), in order to fight back. With the support of the NFIB, the state legislature is now mobilized and a corrective measure will go on the ballot in Michigan later this year. Where before the local city officials were not really listening, now they are. As she attests, it does make a difference.