Curtis S. Bramble
Utah State Senator, District 16
Using eminent domain to seize private property and give it to Wal-Mart is wrong. In 2005, the Utah State Legislature protected private property by ending the use of condemnation for economic development and placed a moratorium on new RDAs until the legislature completed the reform process. During the 2006 legislative session, we completed the reform process. Under the new provisions, Ogden has three different options for development projects. None of these options, however, allow them to take someone's home and offer it to a private entity they like better.
A Utah city can still condemn property for a road or some other public need. However, no city should be able to condemn homes in order to give them to a company like Wal-Mart. That kind of thinking is wrong.
My RDA reform bills are consistent with that very simple principle.
Ogden's proposal is not.
Every property owner in Ogden should get nervous when their city government is willing to do what Mayor Godfrey has proposed. If he would do it to your neighbors, he would do it to you.
A recent editorial in the Standard Examiner understated, "Some cities have abused the [RDA] process."
I would submit that Ogden's plan is the poster child
for such abuse.
The real problem is not the technical definition of blight (although that is included in SB 196). The abuse begins to occur the moment any government organization, anywhere, presumes they have the rightful authority to seize one person's home and give it to someone they like better.
Utah's new law prohibits such irresponsible behavior.
I sponsored RDA reform bills in the 2005 and 2006 legislative sessions based on careful consensus, solid fact and sound principle.
Our RDA reforms were the collective product of the Utah League of Cities & Towns (of which Ogden is a member), the Utah Association of Counties, the Utah Taxpayers' Association, and the public education establishment (the UEA, School Boards Association, State Office of Education, Superintendents' Association, etc). It took over two years to reach consensus. All parties agreed to a moratorium last year so we could continue reform discussions without the distraction and pressure of a "run on the state" in terms of new RDAs under the former system.
RDA reform protects the budgets of school districts, counties, and special service districts. Cities should not be able to spend someone else's money without their approval. Taxing entities should only make decisions on money over which they have stewardship. Because of the old laws, over $100,000,000, including millions of public education dollars, are diverted each year to private developers through existing RDAs.The Standard Examiner
characterized me as a hypocrite and accused me of shifting principles. That is not true for any of my RDA bills, including SB 245.
It's true that SB 245 is a solution to a specific problem in my county (but not my district). It was agreed to by all stakeholders. I fail to see how that action violates my principles or harms Ogden in any way. In fact, the City of Ogden benefited from targeted legislation to accommodate the Ogden depot, and the Standard Examiner did not cry foul at that time. Readers can decide for themselves where the real inconsistency lies.
RDA reform promotes private property rights, local control, and limited government. It defends education and affirmatively states, in terms any city official can understand, that no government should be in the business of forcibly removing you from your home to give it to a private developer.
These are clear principles for which I have always stood, and am proud to own and defend.