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Blog SpaceX Offers to Buy Out Homeowners Near Texas Launchpad



SpaceX wants to buy out residents of a community near its planned rocket launch site in Texas, according to a report from Business Insider.

Boca Chica Village is a a small community of mostly elderly in South Texas. SpaceX has reportedly offered a non-negotiable deal to buy homeowners out of their properties at three times the appraised value. A letter sent to residents and obtained by Business Insider said residents have until September 26 to accept the offer. Business Insider reports that several residents plan to reject the offer.

Boca Chica Village is about 1.5 miles from SpaceX’s launchpad on Boca Chica Beach, where the company is conducting tests for its planned mission to Mars.

Testing has included static engine firing and 500-foot launches and hovers over the site. SpaceX said in the letter to residents that continued testing will likely create “increased disruption” to Boca Chica residents.

“When SpaceX first identified Cameron County as a potential spaceport location, we did not anticipate that local residents would experience significant disruption from our presence,” according to the letter obtained by Business Insider. 

 
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Nikxice

Active Member
Oct 31, 2014
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Hudson, NH
SpaceX wants to buy out residents of a community near its planned rocket launch site in Texas, according to a report from Business Insider. Boca Chica Village is a a small community of mostly elderly in South Texas. SpaceX has reportedly offered a non-negotiable deal to buy homeowners out of their properties at three times the...
Protecting "property on the surface" could be a bit trickier, unless Elon wants to buy a village!
Consider that one a free consultation Elon. :p
 
Maybe but itll most likely get sorted out one way or another. My old company did the same thing for a neighborhood near our corporate campus. All houses were bought out but a Subway held out. We built around it until they caved and sold out.
That sounds like Microsoft - they had a house next to a large corporate site in redmond with a similar 'live there till you die, then we tear it down', here is a few million for your trouble.
 

whitex

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Sep 30, 2015
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Seattle area, WA
Maybe they current owners are thinking if Space X succeeds and this becomes a large space port, the property value will skyrocket way beyond the 3x current appraised value. Or maybe they simply cannot be compensated to move away from their friends and family (would it take a full cost move to a new community plus free on demand jet service back to the old place, or maybe free moves and new places for all friends and family to move along with). Or maybe they are simply following basic rules of negotiation - never accept the first offer.

Everybody has their price, the problem may be that some people's price may be beyond what Space X is willing to pay. Sounds like this is something Space X missed in their site selection. How long before they try to convince politicians to use eminent domain law, you know, because it's better for the local government if Space X pays taxes in that county?
 

Nikxice

Active Member
Oct 31, 2014
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Hudson, NH
For SpaceX to realize the full operational potential of Boca Chica, the FAA may not have left them much choice. Here's the full text of my August Starhopper post.
While contemplating these repeated Starhopper test delays (FAA?), I keep wondering how the heck SpaceX plans to make this site work for the long term. Using google maps I counted roughly 35 residential structures in the village of Boca Chica, a mere 1.5 miles away. If some minor property damage has already been reported with the firing of one Raptor engine, imagine 3 or many more.

Quoting the first section of FAA rule 91.119 for defining minimum safe altitudes. "Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes: (a) Anywhere – An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface." This rule basically applies to fixed wing aircraft. Obviously large rockets are a wee bit different and I haven't a clue as to what criteria the FAA has in place. Currently it appears the FAA is evaluating each Starhopper test individually before granting approval. Perhaps not practical, but I suppose SpaceX could start issuing upscale hotel vouchers to the local folks to solve the issue of "undue hazards to persons". Protecting "property on the surface" could be a bit trickier, unless Elon wants to buy a village!

The buyout offer is the most logical path for SpaceX, although suppose it could be a lengthy process. Homeowners who holdout might get a bigger check, but can't imagine the aggravation. Not trying to be funny, but as SpaceX works up towards 30 plus Raptor engines firing only 1.5 miles away could shake both structures and the will of residents looking to stick it out.
 
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ItsNotAboutTheMoney

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Jul 12, 2012
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For SpaceX to realize the full operational potential of Boca Chica, the FAA may not have left them much choice. Here's the full text of my August Starhopper post.


The buyout offer is the most logical path for SpaceX, although suppose it could be a lengthy process. Homeowners who holdout might get a bigger check, but can't imagine the aggravation. Not trying to be funny, but as SpaceX works up towards 30 plus Raptor engines firing only 1.5 miles away could shake both structures and the will of residents looking to stick it out.

An alternative approach would be eminent domain. If they're going to need that they'll want to start the process as soon as possible. Making the very large offer will help cut to the chase.
 

Uncle Paul

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Nov 1, 2013
6,299
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Canyon Lake,CA
Very generous offer from SpaceX. Lots of alternatives. The state could take the properties by eminent domain. Need to pay only appraised value. SpaceX could become very loud and people would be motivated to leave.
SpaceX could simply find another place to launch.
Florida is very business friendly. Would most likely support SpaceX's huge growth potential. Space travel could become a big deal.

Imagine they have a well thought out plan moving forward, and will wait to see the responses from their offer.
 

adiggs

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Sep 25, 2012
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Portland, OR
I sincerely hope that SpaceX can get this resolved and not even hint at eminent domain.

Taking a slice of somebody's house / property to widen a road that needs widening is one thing; taking somebody's house so that a private company can use it is very different. I know we've legalized the latter in the US by calling private usage for the public good, and proceeding on that basis.

At least for me, if SpaceX decides they have no choice but to go the eminent domain route, they'll lose a lot of the goodwill they've accrued with me.
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
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Canyon Lake,CA
SpaceX would have no part in eminent domain. Only a governmental agency can invoke that policy.

They are just seeing if offering property owners 3X what they are free market worth, would make that space available for growth and expansion. It is up to the free will of those land owners what they wish to do. If only one owner refuses the deal, perhaps no one will get the offer.

Imagine that if SpaceX cannot get the property they need by negotiation, they will pack up and find a more appropriate space to launch space vehicles. Texas has lots of open property.
 

adiggs

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Sep 25, 2012
5,272
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Portland, OR
SpaceX would have no part in eminent domain. Only a governmental agency can invoke that policy.

They are just seeing if offering property owners 3X what they are free market worth, would make that space available for growth and expansion. It is up to the free will of those land owners what they wish to do. If only one owner refuses the deal, perhaps no one will get the offer.

Imagine that if SpaceX cannot get the property they need by negotiation, they will pack up and find a more appropriate space to launch space vehicles. Texas has lots of open property.

Agree that eminent domain is something that a government agency does. Unfortunately, we're also seeing instances of eminent domain being used by government in order to acquire property that gets turned over to private companies for their use.

I'm thinking of instances like this (Wisconsin using eminent domain to acquire land, that goes to Foxconn for a big manufacturing facility in WI):
Masters of Our Domain: Foxconn and State Minions Seize Land

But it's just an instance, not exclusive. It seems as if we've been expanding what qualifies as a public good. Here, it's an easy argument to make - the public good is development of a space industry, cheaper access to space and the resources we'll find there. How can these 35 homeowners in Boca Chica Village stand in the way of that?


To be clear, I'm not saying anybody's going over to the dark side here, or even that they will. I consider the 3x valuation offer by SpaceX to be a completely honorable and reasonable way for them to approach this problem that doesn't get governments involved at all. They've got a particular and unique interest in a particular and unique set of property, and they're willing to bring their money to the table, to the benefit of those land owners, in order to acquire that land. This, IMHO, is precisely and exactly how it should work.

And if they want it badly enough, and the land owners don't want to move badly enough, that they need to pay 5 or 10x. Or get most of the property and have a small number of hold outs, then that's also something they'll have to deal with.

I really hope I never read an article about SpaceX removing this kind of problem by getting the local government to invoke eminent domain - that's all I'm saying.
 

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