Monthly Archives: October 2010

That Mosque (Cont’d.)

One of the best comments on that New York Mosque brouhaha comes from John Podhoretz, Editor of Commentary magazine, in the October 2010 issue:

“The proposal [to construct a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan] has ignited a new culture war in the United States in which unusual lines have been drawn—with unabashedly secular liberals sternly admonishing religious conservatives about the transcendent importance of the freedom of religion. Suddenly, even property rights and building “as of right” have become sacrosanct to people and institutions who have opposed private projects in important locations all over New York City on the grounds that, say, they might cast a shadow at certain hours over a few hundred square feet in Central Park. And yet they feel free to express disgust at complaints about a mosque a few hundred feet from where the Twin Towers were destroyed—a building that would certainly cast a shadow over a Ground Zero memorial.”

But that’s how it goes in the land-use biz, doesn’t it? People whose hearts profess to bleed for the plight of the poor are usually in favor  of the use of eminent domain for redevelopment which disposesses the poor en masse for the benefit of large corporations. They seem untroubled by the fact that the core feature of redevelopment is for the redevelopers to receive the taken land from which the poor have been evicted (and for which the public has paid top dollar), for peanuts or even free. Like in the Kelo case in which the city plan called for the redeveloper to get a 91-acre waterfront tract of land, cleared and ready for construction,  for 99 years for a mere $1 per year.  And so the unfortunate Connecticut taxpayers blew some $100 million with nothing to show for ir since the New London redevelopment project was a complete failure. Our liberal acquaintances (and a clutch of liberal professors who took to the pages of law journals in defense of this abomination) have it that this civic and economic  disaster was just jim dandy — that the city of New London was well within its rights to behave in this fashion and that its conduct was commendable, and certainly not subject to meaningful judicial review.

It reminds us of the line of the late Dick Babcock, in his time the dean of the nation’s land-use bar, who observed that it is a curious phenomenon that captains of industry who rail against government regulation of their businesses and who take out full-page ads denouncing it, are all in favor of regulating the living daylights out of every blade of grass when it comes to their upscale homes in fashionable suburbs.

So if consistency is your thing, you won’t find it in land-use law.

Welcome to my world, Mr. Podhoretz.

Governor Schwartzenegger Does Something Right While California Redevelopment Agencies Continue to Do Wrong

“I am returning Assembly Bill 2531 without my signature.

“Redevelopment funds are to be used solely for the purpose of eliminating blight in urban neighborhoods in California cities. This bill would authorize the use of redevelopment funds for projects that are not necessarily blighted as well as for projects outside the redevelopment area, and as such would violate the primary purpose of redevelopment law.

“For these reasons I cannot sign this bill.


“Arnold Schwarzenegger”

Thus did Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger veto a sneaky bill that would have allowed California redevelopment agencies to take unblighted property outside the boundaries of redevelopment projects.

If you want to see how California redevelopment agencies mess up while wasting or misappropriating fortunes in taxpayer funds, see today’s Los Angeles Times, front-page story by Kim Christensen and Jessica Garrison, Arrested Redevelopment: Lots of Cash and Little Scrutiny, L.A. Times, Oct. 1, 2010, p. A1. Don’t miss a word of it. Note particularly the Times’ description of the Santa Barbara Plaza redevelopment project in LA’s Crenshaw district that has been the subject of government solicitude and funding since 1984, and that today, is described by the L.A. Times, as follows.

“The plaza was sliding into decay three decades ago. Today it is a sprawl of mostly boarded-up businesses and chain-link fencing surroundinga huge wasteland of a parking lot.”

There is evidently “lots of cash” for that sort of stuff, but as the California Supreme Court once put it, we plumb can’t afford to pay condemnees for all demonstrable economic losses actually inflicted on them when their land is taken by eminent domain because if we did, an “embargo” on public projects would have to be declared.

And so it goes.

For the entire Los Angeles Times article go to,0,4355503,print.story