Just Desert


When is sparsely inhabited desert "urbanized"? When a city government wants it. When Hyundai wanted to build a test track in California City, California, the local government knew just the site. Unfortunately, other people owned the 700 acres the city had in mind. No problem, it used a state law allowing it to seize land that is "urbanized and blighted." No matter that the land is mostly pristine desert. Some owners don't like the city taking their land for less than they think its worth. But Mayor Larry Adams has little patience for their concerns. "I think it's a matter of one or two (who) probably are true believers in the freedom of mankind, blah blah blah, and they don't like eminent domain," he said. "Some have a sentimental attachment to the land they inherited. And some of them are just greedy."