Thursday, June 23, 2005

David Byrne - Pirates

Well, the supposedly evil members of the Supreme Court, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, and O'Connor, are the right ones today. The Kelo V New London ruling does exactly what O'Connor says it does-- "Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded--i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public--in the process." We are used perhaps more to disputes involving private property owners rights to do things on their land that negatively affect others -- for instance, building a factory or business on one's property in violation of zoning laws, or developing one's property in ways that damage an ecosystem relied on by an endangered species. But this case is about a development corporation being able to convince a city that they'll be better off if they seize private property -- in this case, residential homes in the family for generations -- and give the property to another private entity who will, if their development lives up to the plan, produce more income for the city. And the Court held that only the city's opinion counts here. The Courts have no say in the matter. So there is no-one for the private homeowner to appeal to. The only consideration is whether the city wants to allow Party A to build where Party B currently lives. Can you say "EVIL?"

Currently in LA, there are areas where the little bungalows of the 30s and 40s are being replaced by McMansions that take up almost the whole property. Now, the little bungalows are often owned by people who have owned them for so long that they pay little taxes, due to the way Prop 13 works. It would be in LAs interests, purely economically, to pay the homeowners fair market value for their homes and allow a big developer to knock them down and build new megamansions in their place, because of the huge increase in taxes. And more tax revenue means an easier time helping the public. And what if they built fewer houses on the same land? That means reduced congestion. I could keep going on for ever. The "benefits" of such a land grab would be legion. And EVIL.

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