3 Years after Kelo Castle Coalition Inspires and Trains Activists for Victories

June 1, 2008

3 Years after Kelo Castle Coalition Inspires and Trains Activists for Victories

By Christina Walsh

City officials were not the only ones emboldened by the Kelo decision. While many municipalities viewed Kelo as a green light to abuse eminent domain to benefit developers, activists across the country began making their voices heard louder than ever before—and winning.

The Castle Coalition educates and empowers these home and small business owners to protect what is rightfully theirs. We help turn ordinary citizens into indomitable activists who get results. And indeed they do. Since Kelo, our materials and involvement have led to the defeat of at least 23 private projects that threatened the use of eminent domain. The vast majority of these hard-fought battles were won in states that have failed to pass real legislative reform—California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and New York—proving that activism works, especially in states where the worst abuses occur.

These successes have prevented tax-hungry governments from seizing more than 1,700 homes and businesses and thousands of acres of private property for private gain. In Seattle alone, activists stopped a “blight” designation that would have covered more than two square miles of homes and small businesses. In Cheektowaga, N.Y., homeowners saved an entire community of 300 homes and 700 apartments. Castle Coalition members also defeated projects in metropolises like Chicago and St. Louis, where the “political machine” was seemingly invincible, and stopped smaller, power-hungry town councils from seizing mom-and-pop shops and historic homes.

By employing the strategies we outline in our Eminent Domain Abuse Survival Guide and our DVD Not for Sale, and by attending our training programs, these activists and many others like them have organized, raised awareness and prevailed, proving that you can fight City Hall and win.

Our continued involvement on the ground, our regularly updated materials and website, and our army of more than 500 new activists that we have trained since Kelo means there are many more victories on the horizon. And with steadfast resolve and confidence, we continue to stand with them on the frontlines and say, “Hands off my home!”

Christina Walsh is IJ’s Castle Coalition coordinator.

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