A New and Better Model for Eminent Domain

The ReUse People Specials

By Daniel Salmon
TRP Utah Regional Manager

Most readers are probably familiar with the power of eminent domain. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives government the right to take private property for public or civic use, provided the owner is justly compensated. Without eminent domain we wouldn't have highways, railways and many public buildings.

Over the years the Supreme Court has weighed in on eminent domain numerous times. Notably, in Kelo vs. City of New London (2005) the court expanded the concept's interpretation by allowing the transfer of seized property to private developers.

One result of the Kelo ruling has been a surge in building demolitions, with increased landfill pressure nationwide. This is certainly true in Utah, where a predicted population doubling by 2050 has many municipalities clamoring to make room for the anticipated growth.

More demolition in turn produces more waste, which results in higher tipping fees and reduced landfill space. Until recently, no mechanism existed to resolve the conflict between municipal growth via eminent domain and the rising cost of waste disposal generated by demolition. However, a recent TRP project in West Valley City demonstrates that growth can be achieved in a financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable manner.

In early 2015, West Valley City condemned, as blighted, the neighborhood in which a successful daycare business was located. During negotiations with the city, the owner of the daycare center contacted me to learn if The ReUse People could be of any assistance. A review of the situation determined that the owner would be better served by deconstructing the daycare center, instead of having it demolished. Besides keeping useful materials out of the landfill, saving and donating the materials would earn them an estimated $150,000 tax write-off, which would be large enough to cover the cost of removing the building.

One seemingly insurmountable problem loomed. Once the city purchased the property, the owner would no longer possess any of the materials—and no similar donation mechanism was available to the city. Deconstruction seemed dead in the water, until TRP came to the rescue with this novel approach:

  1. West Valley City would extend above-ground ownership rights to the daycare owner following the sale of the property with the understanding that:
  2. The owner would have the structure removed by a certain date.
  3. The city would redirect $10,000 to the owner, the amount the city would otherwise spend to raze the building.

With this plan, no additional expense would be incurred by the city beyond its original budget, and the funds to pay for the deconstruction would come straight from the proceeds of the sale.

Ultimately, West Valley's attorneys and planning department approved the plan, and deconstruction began. Cabinetry, doors, lighting and plumbing fixtures were removed first, followed by all structural materials. Within just three weeks, all that remained of the daycare center was a brick shell.

Lumber from the project was de-nailed, organized and transported to the Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity Restore, a TRP partnering organization. The project yielded nearly 15,000 board feet of lumber, over 22 tons of reusable materials, and nearly 29 tons of recycled metal, wood, and brick.

This was a creative solution, applied in a nontraditional way. It demonstrates what is possible, and beneficial, when a city takes sustainability seriously. Look at the benefits:

  • Deconstruction is often more economically favorable for property owners than traditional demolition.
  • Despite the higher cost of deconstruction (compared to demolition), the tax deduction earned by donating the materials can result in much lower bottom-line expenses.
  • Deconstruction fuels greater economic growth than traditional demolition by employing twice the workforce for nearly four times as long.
  • The sale of reclaimed materials makes home improvement more affordable for consumers.
  • In eminent domain scenarios, owners enjoy the satisfaction of seeing their property used for public-benefit purposes.
  • The reduction in waste means landfills can stay open longer with lower tipping fees.

I encourage cities across the country to try this viable alternative to wasteful demolition as a way of benefitting ousted owners while fulfilling municipal revitalization and redevelopment responsibilities.

2015 National Reuse Contest

The 2015 National Reuse Contest is underway. If you are thinking about entering a project, please contact your local reuse store or warehouse and encourage them to participate.

Store managers, or anyone desiring more information on the 2015 contest, should contact:
Kelly Simione
Program Manager
National Reuse Contest



Employment Opportunity

TRP is seeking a versatile individual for the position of Crew Chief. Primary responsibilities include managing 5 and 10 person crews on deconstruction projects, maintaining jobsite safety and assisting the TRP deconstruction manager with estimating and bidding. The candidate must be bilingual (English/Spanish), adept in the use of Microsoft Office, knowledgeable concerning residential construction, and skilled in oral/written communication. Compensation is a combination of base salary plus incentive. TRP offers health care, the usual holidays and vacations, flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) program, and an outstanding work environment.

Specials of the Month

At the Oakland warehouse we are featuring flooring and windows. Receive 25% off the price of any flooring (hardwood, carpet, carpet tiles, ceramic tile, etc.) or window through August 31.
The ReUse People Specials
The Los Angeles warehouse is featuring bathtubs and interior doors. Receive 50% off the price of any bathtub and 25% off the price of any interior door in the L.A. warehouse through August 31.
The ReUse People Specials
The San Bernardino warehouse is featuring HVAC. Receive 30% off the price of any HVAC item in the San Bernardino warehouse through August 31.
The ReUse People Specials

New Inventory

The Oakland warehouse has new shipments of 20”x20” carpet tile.

New inventory at the Los Angeles warehouse includes a solid metal patio bistro table and chairs, a solid maple bookcase with cabinet storage, and a Dacor stainless electric double oven.

The ReUse People Specials The ReUse People Specials The ReUse People Specials

Location and Contact Information

TRP ReUse Warehouse - Oakland
9235 San Leandro Street
Oakland, CA  94603
(510) 383-1983; toll-free 888-588-9490
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00-6:00 Closed Sunday

TRP ReUse Warehouse - Los Angeles
3015 Dolores Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90065
Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-5:00; Sat 10:00-4:00

TRP-HACSB ReUse Warehouse - San Bernardino
660 East Orange Street
San Bernardino, CA  92410
(909) 388-6475
Hours: Tue-Sat 9:00-6:00 Closed Monday and Sunday

Please visit our partnering warehouses:
Habitat for Humanity ReStores, Orange County (two convenient locations)
The Home Improvement Store That Builds Homes
1656 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802
(Euclid and Katella Avenue)
(714) 434-6266
Mon-Fri 9:00 am- 8:00 pm;
Sat 9:00 am- 6:00pm;
Sun 11:00 am- 5:00 pm

The Home Improvement Store That Builds Homes
1400 Village Way, Santa Ana, CA 92705
(McFadden Place Shopping Center, exit 55 Freeway at McFadden)
(714) 434-6266
Mon- Sat 9:00 am- 6:00 pm;
Sun 10:00 am- 5:00 pm

Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Kansas City
4701 Deramus, Kansas City MO 64120
(816) 231-6889
Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-6:00; Sat 9:00-4:00; closed Sunday

The ReUse Warehouse
1400 East Geer Street
Durham, NC 27704
(919) 219-4913
Hours: Mon-Fri, 2:00-6:00; Sat, 9:30-5:00

Second Chance Building Materials Center
1423 West Grove Street
Boise, ID 83702
(208) 331-2707
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9:00-6:00; Sun, 12:00-5:00

Roaring Fork Valley Habitat for Humanity
7025 Hwy 82
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
(970) 945-7733
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10:00-5:30; Sat, 10:00-5:00; Sun, 11:00-4:00

Stardust Building Supply
3901 E. Thunderbird Road
Phoenix, AZ 85032
(602) 459-9803
Hours: Mon-Sat, 8:00-6:00; Sun, 10:00-4:00

Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Salt Lake Valley,
1276 South 500 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 263-0136
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00am-6:00pm; closed Sunday

Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Summit & Wasatch Counties
6280 N. Silver Creek Drive, Silver Summit, UT
(435) 487-9015
Hours: Wed-Sat 10:00-6:00; closed Sunday

Recycle Utah
1951 Woodbine Way Park City, UT 84060
(435) 649-9698
Hours: Mon-Sat 8:00-5:30; Sun 10:00-4:00

Reuse Depot
50 West Madison
Maywood, IL 60153
(708) 223-0502
Hours: Wed-Mon 10:00-6:00p; Closed Tuesdays

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