Thursday, March 02, 2006

Holy clock tower, Batman -- Bakk/Johnson puts new urbanism at risk

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:46 PM |  

I wondered how long it would take the Strib to figure out that the flap over eminent domain wasn’t just about Pfizer, Wal-Mart and a lot of big companies evicting little old ladies to put up parking lots. Holy clock tower, Batman, this Kelo backlash could effect the sustainable urban environment and new urbanism.
Do they [Kelo critics] really want to dissuade the revival of older communities; to further starve older tax bases (and school systems); to further concentrate poverty, and to encourage urban sprawl and its expensive byproducts -- traffic congestion, environmental degradation, energy waste and higher infrastructure costs?


Are the people of St. Louis Park better off because of the Excelsior and Grand project? Have people in southwest Minneapolis benefited from 50th and France? Is Richfield better off with a Best Buy headquarters than a car dealership? Has the whole metro region benefited? We think it has, even though these cities used eminent domain (or its leverage) in each case.
So what’s the principle behind the Strib’s stand? It’s not that private property means anything. It’s the same old, same old liberal posture framed in the language of eminent domain -- my taking is good, yours is bad. It's still a puzzle how quickly the party that purports to stand up for the little guy abandons him when he gets in the way of the grand vision.

Just a final piece of advice to the Strib -- if one is going to criticize demagoguery, one should at least refrain from using it until the next editorial. The Strib writes.
The libertarian lobbies have both momentum and emotion on their side. They use fear to portray property owners as helpless victims of predatory governments eager to condemn their homes solely to reward rich developers. It's the kind of demagoguery that works at election time.
In the previous paragraph, however, the Strib writes --
Some reforms are needed, but proposed changes in the blight and environmental standards go too far. The greatest danger isn't that urban development would stop entirely, but that a developer who discovers one reluctant seller would simply decide that business is easier on the metro fringe, where taxpayers will be left with the costs of redundant infrastructure and the consequences of urban neglect.
Under the Bakk/Johnson eminent domain legislation, if an area meets the definition of “blighted,” then non-blighted properties within the area can be taken using eminent domain. The “one reluctant seller” is a non-issue. But that’s the kind of demagoguery the Strib uses election year or not.