Monday, April 23, 2007

Land grabs Mediterranean-style

Eminent domain isn't just a threat to Americans; Spaniards and foreigners who own property in the Valencia region of Spain are under the gun, too.

The long-running row is over a 1994 Valencia land and town planning law, under which the local authority has so far allowed at least 20,000 compulsory purchases.

The Spanish government says the aim is to ensure that community development plans are not blocked by individual landowners.

But the law has been used to reclassify rural land as urban without the owners' permission - effectively giving developers compulsory purchase rights on foreign-owned homes at a fraction of the market value. Unscrupulous developers can claim back existing properties or portions of land - and charge the occupiers to contribute to the cost of installing roads and drains.

Even worse, the law allows authorities to seize some land without compensation. it even allows them to force property owners to foot part of the bill for the grab.

The report also states that the contentious land laws can oblige property owners to "give up 10 per cent of their land without compensation and [face] an arbitrary financial charge - which can amount to tens of thousands of euros - without consultation of those who own the land".

Talk about your bold-faced, legalized theft.



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