Monthly Archives: April 2014

Steve Anthony’s Fight Against Phony Eminent Domain Revisited

One  of the old, classic California right to take cases is County of Los Angeles v. Anthony, 224 Cal.App.2d 103 (1964). Ostensibly, it was a taking for a site for a new motion picture museum. In reality it was at best a botched up mess, and at worst, and underhanded way of glomming on to some land which the county wanted in order to expand parking at the Hollywood Bowl. The case gained notoriety when Steve Anthony, a homeowner whose house was the subject property resisted the taking both in court and physically: he confronted the Sheriff’s Deputies who came to take possession, with a shotgun.

Steven Anthony, aiming a shotgun, refuses to vacate his home


 As you can imagine, this made for a lot of publicity but did not do poor Steve any good. He was arrested and prosecuted.

And the museum? Was it built? Don’t be silly. Of course not. The subject land became part of the Hollywood Bowl parking lot. Rather than giving you our version, we offer the dispatch from  the Central Library blog, which is linked to this post.  It will give you the essential facts compleat with the names of show business personalities behind this caper.

The court of appeal opinion which we cite above was wretched. It held that a taking for a private, profit-making museum was OK when incidental to a valid taking. But in the Anthony case, as you can see by reading the opinion cited above and the background facts, there was nothing in this taking to be “incidental” to — no public works, no blight, no redevelopment to improve the community — nothing like that. It was purely a private caper, that didn’t even accomplish its stated purpose. Rather than us giving you our version, here is the story, pictures and all, as presented by the Central Library Blog. Here it is:

Afterthought. We note that the subject of this post ties in with the recent spate of stuff in the blogosphere, reflecting on the aftermath of the wretched  2005 Kelo case, where a 92-acre waterfront tract of land was taken supposedly to create a spiffy new neighborhood that would cater to the wants of high-class employees of the nearby Pfizer Pharmaceuticals facility. But it didn’t happen. After displacing a well kept lower middle class neighborhood, and razing the land, nothing, absolutely nothing, has been built on those 92-acres after the waste of millions — over $100 mil, as we recall. And instead of expanding and providing new employment, as represented to the Supreme Court, Pfizer packed up its bags and moved out of New London, taking some 1400 jobs with it.

Follow-up. For a full, detailed story of Anthony’s doomed fight to protect his home for the taking, click on

Nullum Prandium Gratis!

That means “No free lunch” in Latin. In accordance with that principle, we learn that (a) our Interstate Highways — a marvelous achievement of our era — are falling into disrepair, but (b) nobody wants to pay the cost of repair and maintenance . Ron Nixon, Agreement on Interstate Repair Needs, but Not on How to Pay for Them, N.Y. Times, April4, 2014, at p. A13.

The simplest and fairest solution would seem to be the imposition of tolls payable by Interstate users, which would place the burden on the recipients of the benefit, but — guess what? — the folks who make heavy use of those freeways are fighting this proposal tooth and nail, and demand that somebody else do the paying, and do so by methods that are invisible — not by forking over money to a highway toll collector, but some other way.

The surprising part is that the opposition includes not just highway users like trucking companies, but aso the likes of McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts who argue that if — Heaven forfend! — members of the travelling public have to get off the tollway, get their vittles, and then get back on, they’ll avoid interstates instead, and the fast food business will go to hell in a hand basket. We have trouble accepting that because there are states with toll highways, and last time we looked people were using them and duly tossing their money into the toll collectors’ baskets. But, hey man, what do we know? Our inquiry is: where is it written that each of us has an inalienable right to a nonstop trip to wherever we are going, compleat with Big Macs on the way, without paying the full cost of the highways we travel on?

True, all motorists pay taxes, but not all of them are freeway users. So if those who are, are called upon to throw some money into the toll collectors’ basket, that would seem only fair since they are the ones receiving a special benefit of speedy, uninterrupted travel. If doing so isn’t worth is, that means that these folks don’t think the freeways are worth their true cost. If so, it’s time for the responsible government officials to do their job, confront the would-be public free lunch consumers, and remind them that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

If you won’t do that, you run the hazard that — as Margaret Thatcher put it — sooner or later you run out of other people’s money, and in this case,  you wind up with lousy, unsafe roads.