Monthly Archives: February 2019

Bye-Bye California Choo-Choo

The LA Times brings us the news that our newly elected governor Gavin Newsom has put the kibosh on his predecessor’s pet project, the ambitious 200 mph “bullet train” that would eventually run between San Diego and the San Francisco Bay area. The currently abuilding rail segment between Bakersfield and Merced is to be completed, but that will be it. At least for now. The Times cites “the project’s persistent cost overruns, mismanagement and delays” as factors that make the high speed train line unviable. It “will have to be reassessed.” Phil Willow and Taryn Luna, Gov. Gavin Newsom Pledges to Scale Back High-Speed Rail and Twin-Tunnels Projects in State of the State Speech, LA Times, Feb. 12, 2018.

Over the years, we have been critical of the efforts to build this “bullet” train because after its announcement, and after snookering the voters into approving what turned out to be a grossly inadequate bond issue, the project became mired in local politics over route selection — politicians wanted their locales to be served by the new train, while lots of their constituents did not, citing noise and safety concerns.

Also, along with this announcement stopping the “bullet train” fiasco, the new governor let it be known that he would scale down another one of his predecessor’s grandiose project — twin tunnels under the Sacramento delta, that would carry water from the wet part of northern California to the parched south. Only one tunnel is now to be built instead of two.

For additional commentary on cancellation of the LA to Bay Area misbegotten “bullet train” see the article by Joel Kotkin and co-author, appearing in the City Journal go to

https://www.city-journal.org/high-speed-rail-projects?utm_source=City+Journal+Update&utm_campaign=726b9b76c1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_02_13_11_43&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6c08930f2b-726b9b76c1-109498985

 

No Springtime for Hitler in Austria, or, How Do you Say “Lowball” in German?

The New York Times brings the dispatch that the Austrian government took the house in Braunau am Inn in which Adolph Hitler was born, after years of unsuccessful negotiations with its owner. The government used a compulsory purchase order and awarded the owner the equivalent of $350,000 for the three-story apartment building. The owner sued to prevent the taking, but lost. She then sued for additional compensation in the District Court in Ried im Innkreis, which awarded the equivalent of $1.7 million, which was the exact amount claimed by the owner and testified to by her appraiser, and almost five times the amount of the government offer.

The purpose of the taking was to prevent the building from falling into the hands of neo-Nazis who might use it to celebrate Hitler’s memory. The actual future use of the taken building is unclear at this time. We gather from the Times write-up that the answer to this question is something of a hot potato as far as the Austrian government is concerned: Preserve it and risk being accused of perpetuating Hitler’s memory, or raze it and be accused of tampering with Austrian history.

For the Times story go to https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/world/europe/hitler-austria-house.html   It contains a picture of the subject property.

Afterthought. A well informed colleague has called our attention to a New Jersey case that echoes this one. No, no Hitler involvement in that one, but New Jersey courts have approved the taking of private property ostensibly for open space (even though the township had no plans  to put  the property to recreational uses after its taking). In other words, the New Jersey taking was  for the purpose of preventing a developer/land-owner from constructing perfectly legal homes because they would be “affordable to upper income families” but not serve the “public interest” of lower priced “assisted living facilities” or multifamily housing rather than one-family homes. Which inspires us to ask: if that is the law of New Jersey, then what the hell is the purpose of zoning laws which permits the construction of detached single-family homes, if the courts can by their subjective say-so require that those laws be ignored for the avowed purpose of judges engaging in subjective social engineering?

See Mt. Laurel Township v. MiPro Homes, 878 A.2d 38 (2006, N.J. App. Div.) affirmed 910 A.2d 617 (2008, N.J.).