Eminent Domain

Papa Needs a Brand New Park

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Twin 75-year-old veterinarians James and Jock Collins (pause and enjoy the fact that these people exist before reading on) bought a little piece of property as an investment in a Houston neighborhood in 1982 for $363,750.

Instead of enjoying the proceeds from their investment, however, the 75-year-old twins are locked in a battle with the city of Houston. In an unusual use of its eminent domain authority, the city has condemned the property to develop a small "pocket park" on the edge of a large, upscale redevelopment project.

The District offered the Collins twins $398,035 in 2004 and the developers offered them $1.4 million in 2006. The turn down both offers. A few months after the second offer, the City of Houston suddenly decides it needs a park on their property and offers $433,800. The brothers decline. In November 2007, eminent domain proceedings begin.

The developer, who serves on the District board and has ties to City Hall, says he's "offended" by the suggestion that the city wants the property to benefit his project. Take a look at the map and see what you think.

And why is the park so desperately needed?:

Joe Turner, the city's parks and recreation director, acknowledged that it is rare for the city to use its eminent domain authority to acquire land for parks. But in this case, Turner said, the action was justified.

"We have a shortage of parks in that area, and the Uptown District has done a good job of maintaining parks," Turner said.

Read reason on the Kelo eminent domain case here.

NEXT: "Someone Has To Start Wondering What the F Is Going On."

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  1. This why “will the general public use it?” is the wrong standard for judging eminent domain abuse.

  2. Actually, the real reason is that Satan needs an entrance to Hell that gives him more convenient access to the Galleria.

    You can see this clearly on the map:

    http://www.entrances2hell.co.uk/page276.html#

    More here.

    http://www.entrances2hell.co.uk/page302b.html

  3. A city park is a proper use for eminent domain proceedings, although this particular case is a little smelly. They twins should have taken the $1.4 million (or countered with an offer for $1.6 or so).

  4. The reason it’s “smelly” is because the park serves a private purpose more than a public purpose.

    That is the standard established over a century ago.

  5. The twins should have taken the $1.4 million (or countered with an offer for $1.6 or so).

    Why? It’s their fucking building.

  6. TallDave, I thought that entrance was in Wyoming.

  7. It’s probably going to end up like Grammercy Park in NYC — behind a locked gate.

  8. The reason it’s “smelly” is because the park serves a private purpose more than a public purpose.

    No, the reason it’s wretched is because the government, by the full force of its might, is strong-arming two men out of a place they’ve owned for 26 years while offering them what appears to be next to fucking nothing for it.
    I could give a fuck who it’s benefiting, a private developer or the public.
    Fucking parks, anyway. Repositories of losers, drug addicts and drunks.

  9. Don’t forget perverts.

  10. Since they were offered 1.4 million 2 years ago, even assuming property values have dropped 30%, the city should be offering nearly $1 million.

    Then again, I oppose ED even for true public use.

  11. Well, Mr. Kelly, I take a more Constitutionalist view of things, I guess.

  12. Jamie Kelly | March 7, 2008, 3:29pm | #

    The reason it’s “smelly” is because the park serves a private purpose more than a public purpose.

    No, the reason it’s wretched is because the government, by the full force of its might, is strong-arming two men out of a place they’ve owned for 26 years while offering them what appears to be next to fucking nothing for it.
    I could give a fuck who it’s benefiting, a private developer or the public.
    Fucking parks, anyway. Repositories of losers, drug addicts and drunks.

    If eminent domain didn’t exist, how would one build a freeway? There would always be one guy in the middle of it who wouldn’t sell. An argument against eminent domain in general, such as you made, fails.

  13. This is disgusting. And for the record, I don’t give a fuck about what some court said the condemnation standard is — 100 years ago or yesterday. It’s still a disgusting practice.

  14. Well, Mr. Kelly, I take a more Constitutionalist view of things, I guess.

    Like regulations to protect people against their own stupidity? Oh, THERE it is, right there in the enumerated powers.

  15. Well, Mr. Kelly, I take a more Constitutionalist view of things . . .

    ROFL

  16. If eminent domain didn’t exist, how would one build a freeway? There would always be one guy in the middle of it who wouldn’t sell. An argument against eminent domain in general, such as you made, fails.

    1. Build around the guy who won’t sell.

    2. Make the purchase/sale of all the land you want to acquire contingent on the puchase/sale of each parcel comprising the whole.

  17. This kind of thing really gets my blood boiling. And on a Friday afternoon, no less.
    Shame on your KMW.

  18. If eminent domain didn’t exist, how would one build a freeway?

    That’s like asking, “If Social Security didn’t exist, how would we stop everyone from dying homeless and alone”?
    And no, I don’t still beat my wife.

  19. The District offered the Collins twins $398,035 in 2004 and the developers offered them $1.4 million in 2006. The turn down both offers.

    How does this offer not establish a floor on the market value of the property of at least $1.4 million? Nonetheless,

    A few months after the second offer, the City of Houston suddenly decides it needs a park on their property and offers $433,800.

    Seriously, you have willing buyers who have offered $1.4 million for the property, and the City tries to buy it for less than a third that much. “Public purpose” aside, where’s the “just compensation.”?

  20. So the city of Houston is trying to acquire a piece of land that is in the footprint of a giant development for only slightly more than it cost back in 1982? Yup, sounds legit to me.

  21. where’s the “just compensation”?

    That’s what the government was offering: Just, compensation.

  22. So the question is.. if the twins were to agree to sell it to the developer now, would the city still try to buy it for a “park” from the developer?
    yeah right.

  23. Google Maps shows a park about one block away from this project. Methinks Joe Turner is being a bit dishonest here.

  24. Well, folks, you have just proved why the libertarian philosophy fails. A large majority of people would think that eminent domain for a freeway is a reasonable. A slightly smaller majority would agree with such for a city park. A minority would agree with such for a private development. Concentrate on the battles you can win, folks. The main argument here is whether or not this falls into the second category or the third.

    Most people think the government is necessary. Maybe a necessary evil, but still necessary.

  25. RC asks,

    How does this offer not establish a floor on the market value of the property of at least $1.4 million?

    People, especially developers, overpay for individual properties all the time. In the Graduate, Dustin Hoffman offers his landlord $10 for a dime, because he wants to make a phone right that second. Would that mean the landlord’s dime is worth $10?

  26. I have some land in the Everglades that I’ll sell them for 1.4 million.

  27. So the question is.. if the twins were to agree to sell it to the developer now, would the city still try to buy it for a “park” from the developer?

    Indeed. That is the question.

  28. Would that mean the landlord’s dime is worth $10?

    If market value is determined from individuals freely conducting business, then yes it is. Of course, market value changes over time 😉

  29. Geotpf turns up the heat a little bit on the burner. The frog feels even more comfy and warm.

  30. Well, folks, you have just proved why the libertarian philosophy fails. A large majority of people would think that eminent domain for a freeway is a reasonable. A slightly smaller majority would agree with such for a city park. A minority would agree with such for a private development. Concentrate on the battles you can win, folks. The main argument here is whether or not this falls into the second category or the third.

    Most people think the government is necessary. Maybe a necessary evil, but still necessary.

    So a philosophy fails because x% of people don’t like or understand it? Looks like we have a winner for the non sequitur of the day award.

  31. Geotpf:
    I’d like to buy whatever you own for slightly more than what it was worth in 1982.
    Don’t worry, it’s for a good cause. I was going to divvy it up amongst “the public.”

    What do you think?

  32. The reason eminent domain stinks in this case is because a park can be anywhere. It’s not like a road or even a sewer plant where there’s infrastructure to connect to and it therefore “needs” to be in a certain place. If there aren’t enough parks in a particular area, the city could buy any property in that area and make it a park.

  33. pendant

    joez law strikes again

  34. So the question is.. if the twins were to agree to sell it to the developer now, would the city still try to buy it for a “park” from the developer?

    Indeed. That is the question.

    And here is the answer –

    If, having suddenly discovered the need for a park at this particular location, the city then decided to buy the park from the developer, the city would ensure that the developer would be handsomely compensated, above and beyond what said developer could get on the market.

    People bitch about how the government needs to intervene in “the good ol’ boy” networks never realizing that the government is the biggest “good ol’ boy” network in town. City politicians are especially corrupt.

    Except Detroit. We’re on the up and up here.

  35. pendant,

    Exploring this line of thinking: If market value is determined from individuals freely conducting business, then yes it is. The landlord didn’t take the money.

    Also, if the property really is worth $1.4 million, because someone once made an offer that large, does that mean the city should have been assessing it at that rate for the purposes of taxation?

  36. Heh, no name, maybe the dude sells necklaces.

  37. I’d like to buy whatever you own for slightly more than what it was worth in 1982.
    What do you think?

    Careful or you may end up overpaying for his 82 Plymouth Reliant. 🙂

    Well, folks, you have just proved why the libertarian philosophy fails.

    I’m pretty sure that’s good for a drink!

  38. There is Memorial Park not to far from this location right now. Another typical fucking of the land owner by politicians and their cronies.

    What the pols should be promising during elections is a 55 gallon drum of lube in every home for the royal fucking their giving us all the time.

  39. Also, if the property really is worth $1.4 million, because someone once made an offer that large, does that mean the city should have been assessing it at that rate for the purposes of taxation?

    Only if you assume the city should be taxing property.

  40. My prediction:

    1) politically connected developer gets city to seize property for far below fair market value

    2) city decides it has enough parks in the area, cannot afford to maintain another one, sells property to politically connected developer for far below fair market value

    3) developer builds on the property, which is what he always wanted

    4) developer makes political contributions to the people who approved this

  41. Uh, no, only if you assume that the city DOES tax property.

    THIS – x,y’s last comment – demonstrates why (some versions of) libertarianism fail as a political philosophy; because they cannot put forward a political program that can function without the radical reordering of society, so that the implementation of any one of their ideas would produce harms that vastly outweight that would vastly outweigh their benefits.

  42. Why should your political philosophy avoid any positions that would require a reordering of society? Inertia doesn’t seem to be a valid argument for the way things should be.

  43. argument for argument against

  44. Would that mean the landlord’s dime is worth $10?

    I haven’t seen The Graduate but I’ll take a stab at this anyway. The landlord’s dime is a dime, unless it was a silver dime it was worth even less than 10 cents. The phone call is what was worth $10.

    And by the way, I am always amazed how a $25 Home Depot gift card can sell for more than $25 on eBay, but it happens all the time and that is before the buyer pays shipping. Crazy world.

  45. Why should your political philosophy avoid any positions that would require a reordering of society?

    You dropped the word “radical,” which is a rather substantial misstatement of my meaning.

    But to answer, there are two parts to a political philosophy – a vision of the ideal, and a set of proposed changes to be made in the here and now. The former can be helpful in figuring out what the latter should be, but the recommendations should be things that would actually achieve good if implemented in our imperfect world, and not just in an ideal order.

  46. The reason it’s “smelly” is because the park serves a private purpose more than a public purpose.

    But joe you well know that park is an amenity that will enhance the taxable value of those condos…more tax revenue is a public good no?

    I should note that in other cities with more stricter zoneing regulations are enforced what the city will do is down zone the property first and then go in for eminent domain so they can pay a smaller market value for it.

    No question these guys are getting fucked….but in Huston, i suspect it is more genital ass ripping then in other parts of the nation where Joe’s smart growth has a stronger foot hold.

  47. joshua corning,

    But joe you well know that park is an amenity that will enhance the taxable value of those condos…more tax revenue is a public good no? It is unlikely that it would enhance their values more than the taxes foregone by turning that house lot into a non-taxible piece of property.

    While, in principle, increasing tax revenues can be a public good, I don’t think it should be used to meet the “public use” requirement for a taking, for that reason, and others. There should be some substantive, concrete benefit achieved on the ground. Like O’Connor, I would have liked to see the Court provide some guidance in this direction in the Kele decision.

    I should note that in other cities with more stricter zoneing regulations are enforced what the city will do is down zone the property first and then go in for eminent domain so they can pay a smaller market value for it.

    That’s pretty scummy. I haven’t seen that happen in Massachusetts.

    but in Huston, i suspect it is more genital ass ripping then in other parts of the nation where Joe’s smart growth has a stronger foot hold. Hey, look at that! ha ha

  48. Joe, I don’t see why the degree of reordering should matter. By your logic, people under repressive regimes are better off going with the flow, since it wouldn’t be “practical” to make wholesale changes.

  49. but the recommendations should be things that would actually achieve good if implemented in our imperfect world, and not just in an ideal order.

    My solution: The brothers get to decide if they want to sell their property for a political backscratching deal. If they decide “no,” then the city won’t get with the face stomping in the form of eminent domain seizure.

    How radical!

  50. Joe, I don’t see why the degree of reordering should matter.

    The question is, matter to what? In the formulation of the vision of the ideal, I guess people should let their imaginations run wild. When thinking about concrete steps, though, they should come up with things that don’t require that radical reordering to work, because they’ll end up making all sorts of messes.

    People living under repressive regimes know this. They don’t sit around arguing about land taxes vs. income taxes vs. consumption taxes and how to assess people, as the substantive acts the state and people should take. They come up with realistic, meaningful acts that would fix problems and improve the situation in the here and now.

  51. JW,

    The exchange you’re referring to wasn’t about eminent domain, but about taxation, so your comment makes no sense.

  52. joe–It does. I know you were talking about taxation. But your criticism was in general was why libertarianism fails since it fails to “actually achieve good if implemented in our imperfect world.”

    I’d say not railroading these people out of their property to benefit a well-connected developer who sits on the very board that oversees development of this area, a classic case of conflict of interest if there ever was one, meets your criteria by a mile.

    7200 sq. feet? You can barely toss a frisbee in that space. As you noted, this deal stinks.

  53. “Fucking parks, anyway. Repositories of losers, drug addicts and drunks.”

    That generally describes public parks. Private parks, or those that at least charge admission are usually much nicer.

  54. JW,

    “some versions of libertarianism.” That’s why I wrote that qualifier.

  55. Since I don’t know which version you refer to (1.0? 2.0?), I gotta go with what we have.

  56. A large majority of people would think that eminent domain for a freeway is a reasonable.

    I think a majority of libertarians would support that position. I’ve seen it here on this board. But don’t forget there are quite a few “fringe” believers here… which is good because it gets people thinking.

    Fucking parks, anyway. Repositories of losers, drug addicts and drunks.

    See, now one might think that all libertarians are misanthropes, but I’ve been told that’s not the case 🙂

  57. This why “will the general public use it?” is the wrong standard for judging eminent domain abuse.

    I disagree. It’s the starting place. It always will be. Yes, there’s much more to followup on. Like if the city uses the space for “public use”, will they continue to do so indefinitely. If not, then certainly state and local laws can be crafted to avoid the abuse. Many have been detailed by others here. For instance, the state or municipality may have to offer the original owner first option to repurchase the property for the same amount under the original e.d. taking.

    If they E.D. the land, and use 15% as a park and the other 85% is “sold” to a private developer, than that’s not “public use” anyway.

    Even still, in this case the city seems to want that parcel only as a “public use” ostensibly so the surrounding properties can now be developed by the well-connected developer. Either way, whether E.D. is returned to its constitutional roots of “public use”, corrupt politicians can still abuse it. The “public purpose” doctrine simply makes an illegal, corrupt practice into a legal one by dropping all pretenses for “public use”. Specifically, if left at “public use” we at least have a bright line definition that will allow us to root out corruption. With “public purpose”, the corruption can be out in the light of day, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

  58. No, the reason it’s wretched is because the government, by the full force of its might, is strong-arming two men out of a place they’ve owned for 26 years while offering them what appears to be next to fucking nothing for it.

    A city can offer whatever it wants just like any buyer…but an offer is not a condemnation of property.

    If the city pushes for Eminent domain then the owner, if he is not an idiot, will hire an appraiser and a good lawyer to determine the market value of the property. The cities offer does not determine that.

    I do not think there will be a problem that the property will be properly valued and that the owners will receive full market value for it.

    That arguemnt is mute i think. The real arguments is that the power for the state to take property is, as this case clearly demonstrates is abuse and that the owner may hold a higher value to his property then the market holds for it…so if the city takes it and pays market value for it which in this case would be below what the owner feels it is then in essence you have lowered the value of the property ie you have just mandated inefficiencies into the market.

    But i like your argument jamie and i don’t think it should be ignored…it tickles the cockles of my libertarian heart and that is:

    Why? It’s their fucking building.

  59. People, especially developers, overpay for individual properties all the time.

    Since when is a bona fide offer from a willing buyer “overpaying” for a property? The definition of market value is what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller.

    In the Graduate, Dustin Hoffman offers his landlord $10 for a dime, because he wants to make a phone right that second. Would that mean the landlord’s dime is worth $10?

    Right then and there, that is exactly the market value of that dime. It just so happens that there is a fleeting spot market for dimes happening in the movie. Are we going to say that spot market prices are not market prices?

    The fact that others are willing to give less value for it doesn’t mean that its market value is less, any more than the fact that I would like to buy a Bugatti Veyron for a thousand dollars means its market value isn’t somewhere north of $1mm.

    The dime example is misleading in any event, because it is a fungible item with a very wide market. The very opposite of real estate, in other words.

  60. correction

    The real arguments is that the power for the state to take property, as this case clearly demonstrates, is it is open to abuse

  61. In the Graduate, Dustin Hoffman offers his landlord $10 for a dime, because he wants to make a phone right that second. Would that mean the landlord’s dime is worth $10?

    joe is right and he is full of shit at the same time…first he is right that the value of the property is determined at the time of the condemnation…that being said a written, offer with all things being equal…ie the building didn’t burn down or whatever, will be considered by the appraisers as a good determination of the value of the property…

    More weight will be put on comparables but comparables are usually put in the form of a range…the original offer by the developer could push the ultimate settlement price into the upper end of that range.

  62. The definition of market value is what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller. Nope. The definition of market values is what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller in an open market. If I build a house and sell it to my momma for $1, the house isn’t worth $1. It’s market value is, approximately, what similar houses on similar lots have sold for recently.

    Are we going to say that spot market prices are not market prices? Cute use of the phrase “market price” to blur the specific defintion of that term and the dictionary meanings of the two words that make it up. The spot market price is a value produced in a market, but the term “market value” is a like a proper noun, like “United States of America,” which refers to a specific thing, and not merely everything that can be described by the dictionary definitions of the words that constitute that term.

    We’re going to say that spot market prices are not fair market values outside of that particular spot.

    The fact that others are willing to give less value for it doesn’t mean that its market value is less, any more than the fact that I would like to buy a Bugatti Veyron for a thousand dollars means its market value isn’t somewhere north of $1mm. OK, smart guy, how do you know what the market value of a Bugatti Veyron is?

    (I know you thought of that one second after hitting Submit Comment.)

  63. joshua corning,

    that being said a written, offer with all things being equal…ie the building didn’t burn down or whatever, will be considered by the appraisers as a good determination of the value of the property…

    I don’t dispute that at all, but as with the $1 sale to your momma, the appraisers will consider the conditions surrouding the offer.

  64. I don’t dispute that at all, but as with the $1 sale to your momma, the appraisers will consider the conditions surrouding the offer.

    All true…but considering the conditions surrounding the offer in question:

    The developer, who serves on the District board and has ties to City Hall, says he’s “offended” by the suggestion that the city wants the property to benefit his project.

    I think the owners have a pretty good hammer to swing when the negotiations start. I just hope they have a buyer signed copy of that offer.

  65. I agree that the offer from the city should have been $1.4 million, although the city is probably basing their estimate on comparable properties in the area (and the twins certainly can up that with good arguments and lawyers).

    But the basic question here is, is this actually going to be a park? If not, then this is just as fucked up as the Kelo situation. Does Texas have an anti-Kelo law?

  66. RC,

    If a desperate homeowner gets an offer 1/2 of what his home is actually worth, counter-offers with 3/5 of what it’s actually worth, because of imperfect information, does the city only have to pay him 3/5 of what his house would sell for on the open market to take the property?

    Of course the answer is no. This silliness can go both ways. We both know that homes have a fair market value which can be reasonably estimated.

  67. But the basic question here is, is this actually going to be a park?

    Most likely, there will be a langscaped area with a bench, which will legally be city park land – meaning the developer and his successors get to pay that much less in property taxes each year.

  68. The way this “park” is located it looks like it could end up being some fancy entrance plaza for a condo development. Technically public accessible (except for that no loitering sign and cops to keep the dark people away) but mainly just existing for the sake of the development.

    The only situation where eminent domain could possibly be considered a necessary evil is infratstructure projects, and then only when the market system doesn’t work out. Usually public infrastructure, like roads or rapid transit systems that have been planned out well, but perhaps also private infrastructure like railroads, power lines, pipe lines, and other utilities. But utilities really should be next to roads anyway, not cutting through farmland. Shit like parks, schools, and post offices are just ordinary buildings and only require small pieces of land that could be anywhere, so there is no good reason for eminent domain. Land for these should be acquired on the market like everything else.

  69. Oh, one other thing.

    Take Proposition 90 in California. If it was merely an anti-Kelo proposition, it would have passed. But the proposition also included a bit where if any government action (rezoning, protection of endangered species, whatever) reduced the value of land, the state would have to pay the landowner the amount of value his land was reduced. Now, I’m anti-zoning in general, and I voted for it personally, but it failed due to the overbroad language. That’s what I meant on concentrating on the battles you can win.

  70. Colonel_Angus-That is a decent point. A park can be placed anywhere, although I can see an argument for eminent domain to aquire part of a park (that is, they want to build a large park and there’s one small hold-out property owner in the middle of it). But if one wants to build a small park (as this will be), eminent domain shouldn’t be necessary, unless it’s not really a park after all.

  71. Who enforces eminent domain?

    Eminent domain would not exist if there were no one to enforce it, or if people were too afraid to enforce it.

  72. But utilities really should be next to roads anyway, not cutting through farmland.

    huh? Why the hell not?

    Why would a farmer care if they have power lines going across their property or if 10 feet below their crops there is a water pipe coming down from the reservoir into town?

    Pipe and wire cost money and zig zag roads are not the most direct route from point a to point b. Seriously…this is just weird. Why do you care about utilities going through farm land? The farmers sure don’t.

  73. I know that power lines and pipe lines do often zig zag through property like that. The only reason is that it is cheap for the utility owners, but farmers routinely get pissed off which results in eminent domain. The only reason I am opposed to it is because it affects the future use of the farm land, when it gets developed. Also, it makes sense to have utilities where they are accessible in case it breaks.

  74. *I mean, if my company was having a pipe line or something built, I would try to get an easement next to a railroad or road anyway.

  75. except for that no loitering sign and cops to keep the dark people away

    Nah, if they design the place “right,” they won’t even need that. Do you hang out on people’s front lawns?

    Also, saying a park can be “anywhere” is an overstatement. There are geographic and physical characteristics that make certain pieces of land better as parks. Sometimes you see, especially in 1) suburbs and 2) the Big Dig, where left-over pieces of land from road projects are designated parks, and they just don’t work. Parks and other public spaces in a city need to be picked out first, and then the rest of the neighborhood built around them, not vice-versa. Which, in fact, is yet another reason not to take this lot for a park.

  76. Of course the answer is no. This silliness can go both ways. We both know that homes have a fair market value which can be reasonably estimated.

    joe–There is no way that this property’s value hasn’t substatially increased since 1982, assuming they didn’t overpay back then. We’re told in the article that developable lots are getting scarce in downtown Houston.

    When you consider that the value of the land should be much higher by the very nature of the BLVD development, you can see that the city is low-balling big time.

    And if you RTFA, the brothers didn’t turn down the $1.4 million offer, they turned down the payment schedule of the offer. Those are 2 different things; 75-year olds don’t have time to wait and collect.

    Sounds to me that the sleazebag developer, Wulfe, purposely contructed the deal this way so they could later shrug at the ED hearings he knew would come and go “Who? Me?” and not have to pay dime one for the property. He gets they city to be his goon squad and they shaft a couple of old men.

  77. And joe, not arguing with you, just bringing up salient points that haven’t been discussed yet.

  78. Joe is just plain assuming certain “needs”.

    [blockquote]A park can be placed anywhere, although I can see an argument for eminent domain to aquire part of a park (that is, they want to build a large park and there’s one small hold-out property owner in the middle of it). But if one wants to build a small park (as this will be), eminent domain shouldn’t be necessary, unless it’s not really a park after all.[/blockquote]
    I agree with the above, but question the necessity for parks of whatever size to be gov’t-owned at all. We have excellent models for parks of various kinds as private property. I just don’t see a good enough excuse to use ED for parks, only for long linear features and establishments like ship landings that really, really do have to be location specific. Basically the sorts of things that involve things passing thru. And many of those can be done as easements rather than total takings.

  79. Darn, I forgot the tags are “” delimited, not bracketed. And I use 90 deg angle irons plenty.

  80. Oof, it reads “” as null!

  81. Robert,

    You can produce < > with ampersand-“lt”-semicolon and ampersand-“gt”-semicolon.

  82. JW,

    I agree, that looks like a serious lowball offer, given the time since they bought it. I don’t know how it works in Texas, if they usually start with a lowball offer and then work their way up, but in Massachusetts they usually have a generous estimate of FMV and then pay “moving expenses” to make the purchase go smoothly.

    Robert, that isn’t my quote.

    But…

    A libertarian and a conservative are arguing a politics. The conservative gets frustrated and yells, “If you had your way, people would be fornicating and shooting drugs in public parks!”

    The libertarian gasps and says, “Public Parks!?!”

  83. I live in the Houston Galleria area and I used to work in the commercial real estate industry (as a secretary, and I got out as bloody soon as I damn well could). I totally believe Wulfe would do this, those scumbags.

    The piece of property shown is teeny… no more frontage than a subdivision lot, if I am thinking of the right piece, and is NOT suited for a park. I pass it every day… why? Because it is right smack dab in the middle of the “second downtown” of Houston. Thousands of cars pass it every morning and every evening. There is construction going on constantly near there. Right where the “San Fe” is on the map, there is a large strip mall anchored by our local version of Safeway, “Randall’s.” The “lipe” is on the grounds of a large office building that I remember calling “the Halliburton building” not so many years ago. The whole thing is two blocks away from THE busiest stretch of highway in the entire United States, according to a poll from 2004, iirc.

    A PARK? Might as well let your child run laps around the car while you sit in a traffic jam, for all the air quality and exercise space the “park” will provide.

  84. joe,

    That was a good one. I have some friends I will have to tell that one too.

  85. My fiance points out that two blocks farther down, there is an elementary school, Grady, with a park that has a track, a pool, walking trails, and HUGE shady trees. He thinks it is ridiculous that they’re saying they need the space for another park, and he walks everywhere he goes.

    This parcel is also right across from a high-rise apartment building cluster called “Four-Leaf Towers.” They have lovely grounds surrounding the buildings.

    This is just beyond ridiculous.

  86. A libertarian and a conservative are arguing a politics. The conservative gets frustrated and yells, “If you had your way, people would be fornicating and shooting drugs in public parks!”

    The libertarian gasps and says, “Public Parks!?!”

    Good one.

  87. In the Graduate, Dustin Hoffman offers his landlord $10 for a dime, because he wants to make a phone (call) right that second. Would that mean the landlord’s dime is worth $10?

    No. It means that if you really need to put a coin into a machine a $10 bill is not worth a dime.

  88. ? July 2006: Wulfe & Co. offers $1.4 million for the Collins brothers’ property. The brothers decline based on the proposed payment schedule. The company says it will make no further offers.

    “…based on the proposed payment schedule.” That’s a fairly important consideration. A long term payoff is not exactly a great deal, if you’re 75 years old, and I would be willing to bet that finding somebody to buy the contract for net present value (less “service charges”) would reduce that $1.4 million substantially. And then, there are tax ramifications.

  89. In the Graduate, Dustin Hoffman offers his landlord $10 for a dime, because he wants to make a phone (call) right that second. Would that mean the landlord’s dime is worth $10?

    No, that means a $10 bill is worth only a dime, so that’s how much we’ll pay you for this $10 bill we’re confiscating for the Public Good.

  90. This article from a Houston Blog puts the deal in perspective.

    The city of Houston buys six blocks of land at an inflated price, using property tax money and water/sewer funds to pay off political insiders.

    So if high land prices help the politically connected the city will pay high land prices.

    But, if low land prices help the politically connected the city will pay low prices and use eminent domain to do it.

    funny how that works isn’t it.

  91. Robert, that isn’t my quote.

    Didn’t mean to imply that it was, sorry. I just figured it was enough to reference your name without quoting any of your material.

  92. I just want to know why Chevy Chase is involved in all this.

  93. I used to live a block away from that place!! I know exactly where it is and yes it probably needs tearing down, but not in the way that the City of Houston want to do it.

  94. In an unusual use of its eminent domain authority, the city has condemned the property to develop a small “pocket park” on the edge of a large, upscale redevelopment project.

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