Hollywood commissioners embrace right to seize property belonging to residents: (S Florida) Sun-Sentinel, 11/3/05

By John Holland

The Hollywood City Commission adopted an eminent domain resolution Wednesday that strongly mirrors a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision giving cities the right to take a private citizen's property and give it to developers.

While cities, states and federal legislators are working on laws to soften the court's actions, Hollywood leaders voted 6-0 to embrace major portions of the ruling. City Commissioner Cathy Anderson did not attend Wednesday's meeting.

The Hollywood resolution allows the commission to take any person's land or buildings if it decides that the taking serves a "public purpose." Five of seven commissioners would have to agree and the vote could only follow a public hearing.

The resolution calls on city leaders to make "all reasonable efforts to acquire the property through negotiations." The city would then be free to take the property and hand it to developers building more expensive projects in the name of "rehabilitation and redevelopment of neighborhoods," according to an explanation accompanying the resolution.

The Supreme Court's decision in Kelo vs. New London, Conn. outraged legislators and private citizens around the country who feared governments would be free to take land at any time.

Hollywood this year made the controversial decision to take the longtime downtown business owned by the Mach family and hand it over to developers of a downtown condominium project.

Several years ago, several city commissioners backed a deal to take beachfront homes worth millions of dollars and give the land, at a large discount, to developer Michael Swerdlow. That deal eventually fell apart.

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is tackling a bill that would prohibit any city that takes a private home from receiving federal redevelopment dollars.

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