LONG BEACH, Calif. (BP)–Another step was taken toward the destruction of the Filipino Baptist Fellowship building March 13 when the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency Board voted 6-0 to condemn the church in order to build condominiums, despite testimonies from community members regarding the public good that flows from the religious institution.
“I had no illusions that we were going to stop the vote, but what was most discouraging yesterday was the utter lack of any evidence on why this was necessary to cure some blighted areas blocks away,” John Eastman, director of The Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence who is defending the church, told Baptist Press. “They didn’t bother to answer that. That was their legal obligation, and they went ahead and condemned a church anyway.”
During the hearing, the redevelopment agency voted to authorize the city attorney to begin condemnation proceedings, Eastman explained. The next step will be for the city attorney to file a complaint to condemn the property, which includes demonstrating that it meets the statutory requirements for condemnation.
Among the requirements is proof that the property seizure is necessary for public use — based on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2005 regarding eminent domain — and Eastman said that proof would be rather easy to show since a church is tax-exempt and a housing project would bring in more revenue for the city.
Of course this is to be expected based on the disastrous Kelo decision. But I would have thought that eminent domain wouldn’t apply to churches. Perhaps Immanent Domain would? Though then again I can think of an area by the Hollywood Freeway in L. A. that would be great for condominiums that currently is occupied by an unsightly structure, I mean church.