An Oklahoma appellate court recently reconfirmed that a taking by a state or local entity must satisfy, among other things, both the state and U.S. Constitutions. In that case, the City of Muskogee condemned a property for a parking lot. The property owners alleged that the taking was not for a “public use” as that term is used in the Oklahoma Constitution because the city and its parking authority “agree[d] to lease the parking spaces to [a private entity’s] employees first before they are offered to the public.”
The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals agreed and found that the taking violated the Oklahoma Constitution and explained that it “is clear ‘that private property may not be taken or damaged by the condemning agency unless the taking … is necessary for the accomplishment of a lawful public purpose.’” In a footnote the court stated that the city “cannot avoid constitutional restrictions on the power of eminent domain by merely labeling the proposed parking facility as a public utility.” The court held the parking lot “was designed and established primarily for the purpose of serving a private entity” and “employees of that entity’s tenant.”
It is unclear whether this taking would have been constitutional under the U.S. Constitution’s “public use” requirement. However, this case illustrates that states can have stricter eminent domain requirements and a taking by a state or local entity must satisfy both Constitutions.