Could SpaceX use eminent domain to take a Texas neighborhood?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2019 | Eminent Domain

SpaceX is a company run by Tesla founder Elon Musk. The company’s many goals include building a rocket that can get to Mars. The company has already been working toward this goal for some time.

This project is located in Texas and SpaceX built an experimental spaceport as part of the process. The site they selected is Boca Chica Village. It is a small residential neighborhood with “a few dozen houses.”

Recently, SpaceX has been attempting to convince the homeowners in this community to leave. They claim this is a safety issue and note that there have been “disruptions.” To get people to leave, they are offering to buy the houses from the people who live there.

However, many do not wish to leave. They are retired, elderly individuals who want to stay in their homes. While some have indicated they will accept the offer, the majority have little interest in selling.

Now, eminent domain is not something that a company like SpaceX can use on its own. However, back in 2013, a nonprofit started in the area. It is called the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corporation. That nonprofit does have eminent-domain authority, according to Business Insider.

The organization has not used these powers yet. However, when a chairperson was asked, they claimed they were “willing to explore” the option if needed. So, while SpaceX itself cannot use eminent domain to take the neighborhood, could the nonprofit use it on their behalf to buy out elderly residents who want to stay?

These are very important questions to ask, and it will be interesting to keep an eye on this moving forward. All those involved should understand their legal rights.