Sunday, March 06, 2005

couple things

First Kelo v. City of New London has been argued in front of the Supreme Court. I don't know how I feel about this use of the takings clause. I mean I have serious doubts that giving land to a private developer based on the fact that the city will get more in taxes is really a public use. Now I haven't studied the Supreme Court's jurisprudence on this issue terribly much, but I do get the sense that it is kind of a political anomily. In cases like these generally minorities and the elderies are put out of their homes for big business to come in and create something. It seems like the perfect liberal chance to take a stand. Yet, all the liberals I know, especially a bunch in the UAP department at Virginia Tech, jumped up in defense of these projects. They were also big supporters of zoning initiatives that increased building cost because they thought that things looking good was more important.
This is also an issue where conservatives are against big business. They defend the property rights of the owner not to be taken so that somebody can build a higher priced residential development. They usually go against these extra zoning initiatives and for takings for these types of uses even though their 'base' is generally the ones that are benefitting.
Personally I think taking property to redistribute it to a private contractor is horrible. I think it is the Nanny State run amok. I would also think that minority groups and poor groups would hate this. Think about it. I am a private developer. I see there is a 5 square block 'slum' (or hood or whatever derogatory term you want to use) next to a downtown that is going through a revitilization. This slum is gaining in potential value because of it's proximity to downtown. So I want this property but I don't want to have to pay what it is worth becuase I want maximum value. So what do I do? I ask the government for help and tell them that if they help me get the land I will renovate it into expensive lofts aimed at young professionals making a lot of money with no kids (pretty much the ideal person in local governments eyes. Little money spent on providing them services, but a huge benefit in taxable income). So the government goes to the people and says we are going to spend taxpayer dollars to buy this land off you and you can't say no. Then the private developer buys the land up at cost and makes a fortune after renovations. Say things don't go as planned and the people won't sell their property. The government can then just condemn the buildings and kick the people out and then sell the land. The government is happy and the private developer is happy and the people that are mad can't afford to live where they were living and vote for different officials so it doesn't matter anyways.
I think this is horrible. You will be told that these new developments may have to be 5% affordable housing for low-income residents. What you don't hear about is the myriad of ways developers can get around those rules and in some particular localities those rules don't exist.

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