A Man's Home is Another Man's Castle

Why California voters endorsed eminent domain abuse

Last Tuesday, voters in California faced the choice between two statewide initiatives, each claiming to protect property rights against eminent domain abuse. The loser, Proposition 98, which was sponsored primarily by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, would have imposed significant limits on the ability of state and local officials to seize private property using eminent domain, and would have phased out rent control everywhere in California. The winner, Proposition 99, which was championed by the League of California Cities, will do neither of those things.

In fact, despite being titled the "Homeowners and Private Property Protection Act," Prop. 99 will dramatically undermine the rights of California property owners, farmers, landlords, and renters. Of particular concern is the fact that Prop. 99 specifically protects only "owner-occupied residence[s]" from eminent domain abuse, leaving apartment buildings and other rental properties, not to mention family farms, churches, and small businesses, wide open for the taking. And even that flimsy safeguard contains loopholes. Under the most notable exception, owner-occupied residences may be condemned on behalf of "private uses incidental to, or necessary for," public works and improvements (emphasis mine). As George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin notes, "This means that homes could still be taken for transfer to private developers if the proposed project allocated some space for a ‘public' facility such as a community center or library."

So what happened? Did Prop. 99 trick voters into thinking they were protecting property rights when they were actually undermining them? Or did a majority of Californians simply reject Prop. 98's controversial attack on rent control?

The short answer is yes to both. As critics charged, Prop. 99 looked like a legitimate reform measure, despite the fact that it actually leaves city and state officials with vast powers to condemn and seize property. Moreover, for those voters opposed to eminent domain abuse but unaware of Prop. 99's fine print, it would have made sense to vote yes on both measures, just to be safe. Yet under Prop. 99, if both measured passed, "the provisions of this measure [99] shall prevail in their entirety." In other words, Prop. 99 benefited—by design—from both intentional and miscast votes.

But Prop. 98's critics had a point, too. Limiting what a landlord charges in rent is a far cry from seizing somebody's house and handing the property over to a developer. Furthermore, while reforming eminent domain is a popular issue in California (and elsewhere), ending rent control is highly controversial. So not only was including the anti-rent control plank a bad strategic move, it gave Prop. 98 the appearance of bad faith as well. To put it another way, why bundle an unpopular proposal with an extremely popular one unless you're trying something fishy?

In hindsight, it seems clear that Prop. 98 should have been a straightforward assault on eminent domain abuse. That approach would have attracted a broad coalition of support. Consider the various liberal and left-of-center voices that spoke out against Kelo v. City of New London (2005), where the Supreme Court allowed the Pfizer Corporation to acquire private property via eminent domain under the city's "economic revitalization" scheme. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), for instance, declared, "the taking of private property for private use is in my estimation unconstitutional, un-American, and is not to be tolerated."

Similarly, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in the amicus curiae brief it filed on behalf of the victimized Kelo homeowners, charged that not only were Kelo-style takings in violation of the Constitution, their burden "has and will continue to fall disproportionately upon racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and the economically disadvantaged." In California, however, groups representing racial and ethnic minorities and the elderly overwhelmingly lined up against Prop. 98, a testament to the measure's narrow appeal.

But the future isn't entirely bleak. Chip Mellor, President of the Institute for Justice, the libertarian public interest firm that litigated Kelo, recently told reason that the outcry against the Court's decision has resulted in forty-two states enacting "laws that change the status quo that was in existence at the time of Kelo." And while not all of these laws are perfect, "all of them are better than what existed before."

Prop. 99, of course, is now the exception to that statement, but Mellor's point remains strong. The Kelo backlash has sparked eminent domain fights from Brooklyn, New York to Raytown, Missouri. Too bad the authors of Prop. 98 squandered their shot at winning a real victory in California.

Damon W. Root is a reason associate editor.

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  • Naga Sadow||

    I'm gonna go with my gut on this one. For the children?

  • ||

    I'm gonna go with because you guys proposed a RETARDEDLY UNREALISTIC ALTERNATIVE

    No one was going to fucking vote to abolish rent control in a proposition. Get real, please. Next time propose a proper measure that the people of California will actually pass.

  • ||

    It was because Prop 98 had a rent control clause. As stupid as rent control is, it gives an awesome soundbite the Dem/Green opposition. Their ads were outrageous, yet there were perfect for the unthinking majority. It was a poison pill that kept the liberals away.

  • ||

    Opposing actions like the taking of the Ft. Trumball homes is not the same thing as opposing all area redevelopment planning. Most people, even those who do want more protection for owner-occupied homes, want to see troubled cities brought back to life.

    Creating protections that never existed before for property owners is not "undermining the rights of property owners, landlords, farmers, and renters, even if you want to extend the protections EVEN FURTHER than this proposition that passed did. This bullshit "a smaller increase in spending is a cut!" reasoning.

  • ||

    ...even though 90% of renters aren't under rent control. The opposition pretended that non-existant rent control was the only thing preventing mass evictions.

  • jasno||

    Want to know why it passed? Californians are too busy either working hard or playing hard, and following politics isn't high on our lists.

    I barely managed to do a few google searches at 7:30 P.M. Tuesday night while hurriedly filling out my mail-in ballot which I hand delivered to my neighbor's polling station. From the summary on the ballot I figured it sounded good, so I voted for it. Little did I know what it actually proposed.

    Sorry... maybe next year.

  • Mike Laursen||

    No one was going to fucking vote to abolish rent control in a proposition. Get real, please. Next time propose a proper measure that the people of California will actually pass.

    I have a hunch what happened while they were drafting this one. In a meeting room filled with fairly hardcore Orange County conservatives, someone raised the point that they should include a rent control clause to make the initiative complete and philosophically consistent, since rent control is also a form of taking. And because nobody in the room ever associates with liberals or has made any effort to understand their world view, it didn't even occur to them that liberals might not want to vote to end rent control.

  • ||

    joe, since when is that kind of reasoning "bullshit"? Remember the "cuts" to social security proposed by the dastardly Republicans, and the guy (I think his name might have been John Kerry) who was against slashing SS?

    http://www.factcheck.org/kerry_falsely_claims_bush_plans_to_cut.html

    "It's a familiar campaign ploy, similar to the tactic used by Bill Clinton in 1996, when his ads accused Bob Dole of supporting a $270 billion "cut" in Medicare. In fact, what Dole supported was a slowdown in the projected growth of Medicare spending, at a time when Clinton himself was proposing a $124-billion reduction (without, of course, calling his own plan a "cut.")"

  • Mike Laursen||

    Most people, even those who do want more protection for owner-occupied homes, want to see troubled cities brought back to life.

    Come on, joe, you're too smart to fall for the "bringing troubled cities back to life" story. It's more like "making cities safe for yuppies" and "making cities safe for city arts commission cocktail soirees."

  • ||

    bigbigslacker,

    Are you endorsing that thinking?

    Or are you just diverting the thread and changing the subject because I'm a bad, bad Democrat?

    Mike Laursen, since I live in, and worked in, an old manufacturing city that made a dramatic comeback partially as a result of public-sector redevelopment planning, and watched it happen with my own eyes, and watched the improvements happen not just for the yuppies but in the neighborhoods, too, I'm going to have to dodge your jerking knee.

  • ||

    slacker,

    The cuts of Medicare would have actually reduced the benefits each enrollee would have enjoyed, in real dollar terms.

    The protections for homeowners in Prop. 99 will actually increase their rights and restrict the government's lattitude to take property.

    That's a rather meaningful difference.

  • ||

    Just another reason to stay the fuck away from California.

    planning. Most people, even those who do want more protection for owner-occupied homes, want to see troubled cities brought back to life.

    Opposed to us libertarians who just want to see troubled cities to collapse into a massive shit pile. Or maybe you created a straw man.

  • Paul||

    Most people, even those who do want more protection for owner-occupied homes, want to see troubled cities brought back to life.

    At the expense of????????????????????

  • Guy Montag||

    Perhaps there is a bigger government solution hiding in this story. Nationalizing California could save it from becoming a giant wasteland.

  • Guy Montag||

    It could be called the People's National Workers Republic of California. Goes along well with the existing bear on the flag.

    Could add a catchy armband to the bear too.

  • ||

    Damon Root investigates why California voters recently passed Prop. 99, an initiative that will dramatically undermine the rights of property owners, farmers, landlords, and renters.



    Why did Californians pass an initiative increasing government power? We actually need an entire article to explain this?

  • ||

    Sadly, Marcvs, I see libertarians proclaim urban blight to be the proper and desireable action of the market, which should not be impeded, on every thread that touches on urban issues.

    Paul,

    At the expense of???????????????????? Different people answer that question differently. The bottom line is that most people are on board with redevelopment efforts that require takings, and want solutions to Kelo-style problems that come up short of the absolutist position of the RPPI and IJ.

  • ||

    Jordan,

    Please explain how reducing the government's ability to take people's homes increases the government's power.

    You are being mislead.

  • ||

    I'm with you guys on this one. Two competing measures, and 98 confused to many issues into one lump. I barely got to the polls in time after a long day, and I think the outcome was actually pretty good. I mean seriously, Californians taking a stand for a modest respect for property rights, I couldn't ask for much more than that.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Mike Laursen, since I live in, and worked in, an old manufacturing city that made a dramatic comeback partially as a result of public-sector redevelopment planning, and watched it happen with my own eyes, and watched the improvements happen not just for the yuppies but in the neighborhoods, too, I'm going to have to dodge your jerking knee.

    Not knee jerking. I've worked for over ten years in San Jose, California, which has one of the most notoriously incompetent and unaccountable redevelopment agencies around.

    What city do you live in? Does it use property tax increment financing? Is the redevelopment agency elected or appointed? Has the redevelopment agency shut down already, or have predefined criteria for when it will shut down? Were tax incentives given to the anchor businesses that moved in? Do you know what happened to the people who lived in the area and the small businesses that were there before the redevelopment project started?

  • ||

    I, as a CA resident, received several pieces of mail that covered several issues, including 98 and 99. The literature was confusing and contradicted each other. Additionally there were candidates on the ballot who I was going to vote for or against and they didn't mesh with what I would have guessed with the "proper" way to vote on 98 and 99.

    So what I did was read the pro and con arguments in the state issued booklet explaining the ballot questions. I remained confused and unsure what was at stake.

    Finally I did what I should have done to start with, and went to the CA Libertarian Party website, and it said to vote Yes on 98 and No on 99. Since I trusted them I voted that way, but in the final analysis I probably would have voted the other way without that endorsement.

    The moral of the story is that FUD is a powerful thing.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Oh, and I may be a bit prejudiced because San Jose has some of the worst public art ever seen. The worst being a fifteen-feet high pile of dog poo:

    http://www.sanjose.com/underbelly/unbelly/Sanjose/Quetzy/quetzy.html

  • ||

    Do I want to get into an urban planning pissing contest today? Nah. I'll just say the SCOTUS fucked up on Kelo vs. New London. Forcing someone to sell to another with the government acting as the middleman is not public use. Yes, in this case I'm claiming I'm smarter than the SCOTUS majority.

    Full disclosure, I live in a city where urban planning is full of FAIL.

  • ||

    Mike Laurson,

    I live in Lowell, MA.

    They study us in planning programs around the world, because we're the model.

    TIFs work a little differently in Massachusetts - they're basically tax breaks, not dedicated revenue streams.

    We don't have a Redevelopment Agency - the city staff answer directly to the City Manager, who answers to the Council.

    Our redevelopment strategy has been residential-oriented, focusing on the physical redevelopment of buildings and improvements to the quality of life, with direct business attraction playing a relatively small role. Tax incentives for the redevelopment of buildings has been used.

    Do you know what happened to the people who lived in the area and the small businesses that were there before the redevelopment project started? The only example I can think of when residences were taken for redevelopment was when a neighborhood that was a mix of multifamily homes and dirty industry was sorted into a residential/mixed-use section and an industrial section. The industrial businesses mostly moved a few blocks to the industrial area, and the displaced residents often moved to new residential developments in the improved residential area. This was done with a fine-tooth comb, however, to keep the number of displaced businesses as low as possible. It wasn't an area-clearance project by any means.

    Believe you me, chasing out small businesses to bring in big ones was not on the menu.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Sadly, Marcvs, I see libertarians proclaim urban blight to be the proper and desireable action of the market, which should not be impeded, on every thread that touches on urban issues.

    This is one such thread. Please point out the pro-blight statements made by libertarians on this thread.

  • ||

    Wow. That really is a 15 foot pile of dog poop. My condolences, Mike.

    J sub D, Detroit, right? Detroit's problem is one of regional economic decline, not bad urban design. Ergo, better urban design isn't gonig to save it, no matter how well done. And I doubt it has been done well.

  • Paul||

    Joe, eminent domain for "Public Use" is not an absolutist position. An absolutist position would be to declare any taking, for any reason, illegal or unconstitutional. To demand that takings be for "public use" for say, right of way issues for transportation, even a public park are perfectly reasonable exceptions and reasons for a taking. That's why the constitution provided for the "public use" clause. It seemed reasonable, even for our (ahem) absolutists framers that there could be times when government may need to appropriate property.

    But now that the concept of public use has been utterly nullified, then the answer to my question would be: at the expense of individual rights contained explicitly in said constitution.

    For instance, there are some that want to "bring back life" to the "public discourse". Guess which amendment they like to go after? We don't let them (well, ok yeah we do, and I don't like it either) because we fear that individual freedom of speech will be nullified.

    May I present to you, the Bill of Temporary Privileges*.

    *Privileges are a wholly owned trademark of the Federal Government. Privileges may be revoked at any time. Privileges may carry a surcharge during peak times. Privileges may not be available during off-peak times. Privileges are subject to change, without prior notification. The Privileges as you perceive them now may not represent, in any way, the privileges that will actually be extended to you when they come available. Privileges vary from state to state. Privileges not applicable where prohibited by law. Do not taunt privileges.

  • ||

    Mike L,

    This thread is one hour old.

    I could find some great ones on old threads, if I was so inclined.

  • ||

    Paul,

    I'm not interested in arguing about the definition of the word "absolutist," except to say that the public does not support the "public ownership only" position you espouse, and this vote demonstrates that.

    BTW, the definition of "public use" included instances of privately-owned facilities at the time the Bill of Rights was written - mill ponds that powered privately-owned businesses, for example - and those takings were upheld in the years before 1800. Because the growth of industry was deemed a public purpose, the Mill Acts stood.

  • Paul||

    Ergo, better urban design isn't gonig to save it, no matter how well done. And I doubt it has been done well.

    Which is why eminent domain abuse by transfer of property to another private entity is such a scary thing. And why the Supreme Court decision was even scarier. The Supreme court will now refuse to consider the merits of any plan, just as long as there is one.

    So now any urban planning hack (and no, joe, that's not an insult to you, personally) can waltz into a so-called blighted zone and start carving up the parcels. Just so long as he clutches a double-spaced, MLA format plan.

  • ||

    Paul,

    I would have preferred the Court to rule along the lines of O'Connor's dissent.

    "Public Use is whatever the legislature or those acting under its power say it is" is way, way too lax a standard. The planners in my office were pretty appalled by that ruling, even as we rolled our eyes at the hisotrically-ignorant Thomas dissent.

  • ||

    "Urban blight" is a fucking OPINION. Just like the opinion that "property value went down" when that big Mexican family moved next door.

  • Paul||

    joe, you and I have sparred on this before, and even sparred on the historic basis of the "public use" morph to "public purpose". Yes, there were precedents for private-to-private transfers upheld by the Supreme Court in decades and centuries past.

    I have argued (and have others far smarter and higher-earning than I) that the Mill Act transfers were unique in that in an agrarian economy, Mills were darned near public utilities. Yes, one could argue it sewed the seeds...

    However, there are other cases that built upon the precedent and were, in my opinion, flat wrong on their judgements. So what we have is a heap built on faulty foundation.

    I've been reading:

    JOHN STRICKLEY and Ellen Strickley, Plffs. in Err.,
    v.
    HIGHLAND BOY GOLD MINING COMPANY.

    This is a case (cited in the Kelo ruling) where Utah had broader standards for "public use". I think this ruling was wrong, if for no other reason that it seemed to be solely for the 'convenience' of the mining company. Imagine a scenario where you're surrounded by private mining firms, and they all use your property as one big thru-way for their stuff-- to the point where your own land becomes unusable. But yet it adds to the precedent.

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=200&invol=527

  • Mike Laursen||

    Lowell Sun, "Lowell eyes eminent domain taking of building":

    "City administrators haven't divulged numbers. But The Sun has learned that the city was leaning toward offering the owner of the Middlesex Street parcel, where Barney's Deli and several other small businesses are located, about $500,000. That number was based on real-estate appraisals.

    But property owner Jim Gill, The Sun has learned, wasn't willing to go below about $1 million."

    [snip...]

    "The project will not work with that strip there," Mercier said. "But you are not going to have a friendly taking."

    Lowell Sun, "Wilmington firm wins contract to raze Barney's Deli block.":

    "City officials have granted a $750,000 demolition contract to Wilmington-based Charter Environmental Inc. to raze the Barney's Deli block, at 65-87 Middlesex St., and clear most of the former Freudenberg Nonwovens Group plant."

    So, they were only willing to pay the owners $500,000 for their property, but were willing to give a contractor $750,000 for demolition work.

  • ||

    Vlad,

    Vacancy and disinvestment are not judgement calls. They are quite measureable.

  • ||

    Paul,

    The important thing about the Mill Acts is that land that is taken is not for the mill which had a "common carrier" provision, but for the mill pond, which did not. The owner of the mill pond continued to own that land, including the right to allow or refuse others' access to it, and to its water power, at his discretion.

    The land taken under the Mill Acts remained owned by a private party, it was not accessible to the public, and the benefit it provided was not made available via a common carrier provision. It was a public use because the provision of milling facilities for farmers was found to provide a public purpose - promoting the physical and economic development of an area.

  • ||

    Mike Laursen,

    "City officials have granted a $750,000 demolition contract to Wilmington-based Charter Environmental Inc. to raze the Barney's Deli block, at 65-87 Middlesex St., and clear most of the former Freudenberg Nonwovens Group plant."

    The Freduenberg property was a multi-acre site covered with industrial buildings, with contamination issues.

    They were not paying $750,000 to demolish the $500,000 property.

  • robc||

    joe,

    In the case of the Mill Acts, I will say it was just as possible for the original courts to misinterpret the constitution as the current courts.

  • robc||

    joe,

    I see libertarians proclaim urban blight to be the proper and desireable action of the market

    I will make you half right.

    However, first, markets dont have "proper" results nor do they have "desires". Results just happen.

    That said, "blight" is sometimes the result of the free market. Im okay with that. Its no reason for a takings.

  • ||

    robc,

    Some of the people sitting on those courts, and most of those who appointed them, helped write and ratify the federal and state constitutions that laid out the government's eminent domain power. I feel pretty confident in asserting that they did not misinterpret themselves.

  • ||

    No discussion of prop 98 and 99 are complete without the following major fact:
    Prop 98 also had a provision to eliminate rent control. While noble, it gave those that opposed eminent domain reform, such as AARP, gov't associations and other lefties, an angle to attack Prop 98 and say Prop 99 was the better choice.

    In any case, if 98 was voted in, it would probably have died in the courts due to the single-issue provision for props here in California. (rent control != eminent domain reform)

  • Mike Laursen||

    They were not paying $750,000 to demolish the $500,000 property.

    Drats! Working too fast! I shall find dirt!

  • ||

    No, they removed the fill.

    You want dirt, google "Lowell Towing Contracts."

    The planning and redevelopment efforts in Lowell these days are pretty clean, and as backslapping as the political culture is, the politicians know not to screw with them, because they deliver the goods, in terms of achieving real progress that they can take credit for.

  • robc||

    joe,

    The "public use" clause is in the Bill of Rights, which was written by the first House. Therefore, the first courts were a distinct set from the writers of that clause.

  • economist||

    This thread bores the economist, who now refers to himself in the third person.

  • ||

    we definetly need a fence between CA and NV, we can't have any more of these retards immigrating to our state, and voting the way they do here.

  • ||

    Definitely

  • Mike Laursen||

    You want dirt, google "Lowell Towing Contracts."

    Holy Shit! California may have its problems, as some commenting here have alluded to oh so delicately, but our corrupt politicians don't have the cajones to have contractors specify their kickback amounts in writing.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Michael Lafleur, The Sun, Lowell:

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/782410/lowell_sued_over_eminent_domain/index.html


    Owners of McLaughlin Storage Inc. are suing the city over the eminent-domain taking of their land as part of the Hamilton Canal District redevelopment project.

    The lawsuit, filed Nov. 17 in Middlesex Superior Court, argues that the city took more land than legally allowed and the $890,000 city councilors voted in April to pay McLaughlin Storage for its vacant facility, at 360 Jackson St. near where Jackson becomes King Street, "was grossly inadequate to compensate the plaintiff for its loss and damages."



    [snip...]


    City plans call for selling all that land for an estimated $10 million, depending on as-yet incomplete environmental assessments, to a master development firm that would oversee the entire area's renovation into a mix of commercial, retail and residential uses.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Eminent domain was used to acquire McLaughlin Storage as part of the Jackson Appleton Middlesex (JAM) Urban Renewal Area, which this government report describes as not just a blighted area, but "decadent":

    http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/dpd/projects/jam/JAMBook.pdf

    Here is the report's own description of the first attempt at revitalizing the area:

    The investment of significant public funds for the creation of the Lowell National
    Park, and the development of the Paul E. Tsongas Arena and Edward A. LeLacheur
    Park have not lead to substantive gains for The JAM Area and the Area continues to lag
    behind the overall improvement seen in other areas of the City. It is readily apparent
    from the information gathered in performing the JAM Area local area survey that in the
    intervening 28 years since the Comprehensive Plan was drafted and accepted the decadent
    conditions present in the JAM Area have continued unabated.

  • Mike Laursen||

    In other words, for the JAM neighborhood, the conditions that they were coming back from was 28 years of being subject to a comprehensive plan.

  • Mike Laursen||

    From foreclosuresmass.com: http://www.foreclosuresmass.com/about/town_lowell.html

    "Relative to the other towns and cities in the state in the last 60 days, Lowell, MA had more foreclosed properties than 360 towns, the same amount as 1 towns, and fewer foreclosure properties than 6 towns."

    341 in the last 180 days.


    joe: "...I live in, and worked in, an old manufacturing city that made a dramatic comeback partially as a result of public-sector redevelopment planning, and watched it happen with my own eyes, and watched the improvements happen not just for the yuppies but in the neighborhoods, too..."

    OK, I'll stop now. Five posts in a row is getting me into Lonewhacko-like obsessive territory.

  • ||

    "Detroit's problem is one of regional economic decline, not bad urban design."

    No. Detroit has been in decline since the 1950s through good regional economic times and bad. The decline accelerated after the '67 riots. During that time, the city's population has steadily declined by over half to less than 1M. But the metro region has grown to ~5M and been wealthy and thriving for most of that time. How much 'urban design' has had to do with the city of Detroit's decades long slide is debatable, it certainly wasn't due to a regional economic decline.

    With respect to urban renewal, the signature case in Detroit was the Poletown case which the Michigan Supreme Court prominently reversed a few years ago:

    http://www.indianalawblog.com/mt/archives/2004/07/000844.html

    Somehow razing an entire urban neighborhood for a new GM plant didn't revitalize that part of the city. Go figure.

  • ||

    Mike Laurson,

    When an industrial property has potential contamination issues that haven't been resolved, it imposes a big risk on the owner and drives down its market value.

    For the city to take on that risk and eliminate it - by either cleaning up the property if it is contaminated, or testing to to confirm that no remediation is required - actually does increase its value by millions of dollars. In a lot of cases, you literally couldn't give away brownfields, they would have a negative dollar value.

    As for the Tsongas Arena and LaLacheur Park, they aren't in the JAM Area, but on the other side of downtown - ie, the area that has been the focus of revitalizaiton efforts, and has seen the greatest progress. The JAM Plan is an effort to extend that success into a new area, that HASN'T been the focus of redevelopment efforts.

  • ||

    Mike,

    Lowell is the third largest of those 368 cities and towns, and the 7th in foreclosures. So?

  • ||

    You could find this all out if you were making an honest effort to understand the situation, and trolling for "gotcha" quotes.

    They don't seem to be working out very well for you anyway.

  • Mike Laursen||

    You could find this all out if you were making an honest effort to understand the situation, and trolling for "gotcha" quotes.

    But it was kinda fun.

  • Mike Laursen||

    They don't seem to be working out very well for you anyway.

    Well, actually, in the areas of Lowell that you claim have been helped by revitalization (you seem to be backing off from including the JAM area as one of the neighborhoods), you have not given any example where eminent domain had to be used to take land and give it to a private developer. Has that power, which is the type of power that is commonly criticized, been used as part of the model revitalized Lowell neighborhoods.

    Also, your refutation of the importance of Lowell's foreclosure rate was weak. You claim that Lowell has made a comeback, but 341 foreclosures in 180 days is a staggering rate regardless of Lowell's size.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Also, I didn't bring up the whole situation where the new yuppy denizens of the JAM area are protesting about the presence of a pre-existing assisted living center there. At least one city councilman is openly talking about shipping all of the people that the center is helping out of the area.

  • ||

    I haven't backed off of anything. I never identified the JAM area as a success story anywhere.

    you have not given any example where eminent domain had to be used to take land and give it to a private developer Yes, I have - the comment I made above about sorting out the urban residential and industrial uses. You can find that in the Acre Urban Renewal Plan.


    341 foreclosures in 180 days is a staggering rate regardless of Lowell's size. How do you know what the rate is if you don't even know the city's size?

    And surely you've seen some news stories about foreclosures in recent months. I guess the exurbs of Orange County are struggling to get by, too.

    Also, I didn't bring up the whole situation where the new yuppy denizens of the JAM area are protesting about the presence of a pre-existing assisted living center there.

    Actually, such complaints pre-date the "yuppies" by a long time, and said yuppies are not protesting its presence, but its operations. The yuppies are, in fact, opposing the proposal to move it. The City Councilor you mention is a good old boy.

    You need to stop reading your prefered narratives onto the situation instead of making an effort to know what you're talking about, because you understandably don't know very much about the city.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Yes, I have - the comment I made above about sorting out the urban residential and industrial uses. You can find that in the Acre Urban Renewal Plan.

    Are you referring to these documents?
    "Overview of the Acre Plan" and "Acre Plan Progress to Date 2007"
    http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/dpd/projects/acre

    There's no mention of eminent domain in these documents.

    How do you know what the rate is if you don't even know the city's size?

    Yes, I shouldn't have used the word, "rate". The absolute number of foreclosures regardless of rate indicates a city that is not vital. What are your standards for declaring that Lowell's revitalization is a model to be followed?

    I guess the exurbs of Orange County are struggling to get by, too.

    Many of them are. They are relatively poor cities. But I haven't held them up as models of anything.

    Actually, such complaints pre-date the "yuppies" by a long time, and said yuppies are not protesting its presence, but its operations.

    Presence vs. operations. You are splitting hairs on that one. The City Councilor may be a good ol' boy, but his statements reflect neighborhood sentiment.

    ... because you understandably don't know very much about the city.

    Yeah, I know, but I hate giving you the last word. You should be familiar with that personality trait.

  • ||

    Joe,

    Creating protections that never existed before [sic] for property owners is not "undermining the rights of property owners, landlords, farmers, and renters["], even if you want to extend the protections EVEN FURTHER than this proposition that passed did

    Private property rights are unalienable. The protection you mention existed before, when the State was much smaller than today, so do not say they "did not exist before". That is absurd.

    Most people, even those who do want more protection for owner-occupied homes, want to see troubled cities brought back to life.


    This is pure fallacy - an Ad Populum argument. Just because "most want to see" whatever, is no justification for taking over people's property. If you want to justify theft, be ready to justify it when it is committed against you, otherwise use better logic.

  • ||

    I spent about 5 minutes researching this, and voted yes on 98 and no on 99.

    Both of them sounded good according to the backers, but I did notice the fine print on 99 about it superseding 98 if both pass, and 98 was much better.

    Adding the anti-rent control provision was a strategic blunder, but it was misrepresented by opponents. 98 would not have abolished rent control where it already existed, it would only have prevented it from being enacted elsewhere.

    And yes, telling a property owner how much he can charge in rent is the same as taking his property.

  • ||

    Joe,
    Sadly, Marcvs, I see libertarians proclaim urban blight to be the proper and desirable action of the market, which should not be impeded, on every thread that touches on urban issues.

    Pure sophistry. Libertarians do not see it as a desirable thing (it is neither desirable or undesirable); they see it as a logical consequence of a combination of high taxation and heavy regulation. It should not be impeded because that would mean trampling over people's right to choose where to live - unless for some reason (maybe your Statolatry), you find our view about people's liberty disconcerting or undesirable...

  • economist||

    Anyone ever notice how joe complains about us playing "gotcha" whenever we catch him making self-contradictory statements?

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