Public Use Law and Legal Definition

Public use is the justification to acquire property by eminent domain. It is the only purpose for which private property can be taken or condemned by the government under its power of eminent domain. Public use includes: schools, streets, highways, hospitals, government buildings, parks, water reservoirs, flood control, slum clearance and redevelopment, public housing, public theaters and stadiums, safety facilities, harbors, bridges, railroads, airports, terminals, prisons, jails, public utilities, canals, and numerous other purposes designated as beneficial to the public.

The words public use in the eminent domain context means a use which concerns the whole community, as distinguished from a particular individual or a particular number of individuals. It is not necessary, however, that each and every individual member of society should have the same degree of interest in this use, or be personally or directly affected by it, in order to make it public. [Gilmer v. A Certain Tract of Land, 18 Cal. 229 (Cal. 1861)]