Saturday, March 11, 2006

Eminent Domain

Hollywood & VineI am not against eminent domain in all cases. Sometimes it is necessary for a government to force a property owner to sell so the government can build a worthwile public project. But I was alarmed by the Supreme Court decision last year to allow governments to take property for private commercial use. Already, Los Angeles is using the Supreme Court precedent to take local businesses and give the land to a hotel developer. The LA Times has a good editorial today on the plan:
The corner of Hollywood and Vine hasn't always been as glamorous as it is famous. But for six decades, the Bernard Luggage store has been at or near the legendary intersection, through years when the star-studded sidewalks were dirty, businesses struggling and the prospect of revitalization remote.

Now things have picked up. Streams of free-spending club-hoppers pour out of the Metro, and red carpets are regularly unrolled on the boulevard for concerts and TV tapings. Bernard Luggage is again at the hottest intersection in town. So after everything has been spiffed up, along comes the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency to declare the area "blighted" and evict property owners such as Robert Blue, whose family has owned Bernard Luggage for 60 years. To build a luxury hotel.

It's a heavy-handed government grab for private property — to make way for a private project. There may be some rare instances in which such grabs are appropriate. This isn't one of them.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that government can take private property from one person and give it to another. The prospect is chilling, and over-reaching redevelopment is now a greater danger, especially by elected officials who often rely on contributions from the same types of folks who build big projects. Unlike the development at issue in the Supreme Court case, the Hollywood and Vine project is not taking anyone's home, just commercial property — in which Blue, his family, his employees, his tenants and his neighbors have invested their lives.


Blogger SusanF said...

What I think is interesting about this "blighted" property, is that it has indeed been negleted, its an eyesore!

5:44 PM  
Blogger michael said...

Thanks for the comment, but I have to disagree.

It's old, but I don't think it is an eyesore. There are several active businesses in the building, so it hasn't been neglected either.

It isn't interesting or news that there are old and/or unattractive buildings in Los Angeles. What is new is that politicians can take that private property and sell it to a new private owner.

11:50 PM  
Blogger AgainstCorporateAide said...

From a preservation point of view, I don’t care who owns the building, as long as it stays up. The current developers want to tear it down. We have already lost the Brown Derby Resturant by a greedy owner who sneeked in demolition on a Saturday so he could expand his parking lot.

In fact had the Bernard Luggage building been brand new, the City still would have used Eminent Domain to force the owners to sell or be condemned for this private development. The developer said so in the March 2nd hearing at the Redevelopment Agency meeting. Anyone can call the LA City CRA records department and order an audio or video of the Board Meeting held on March 2, 2006 and listen for themselves (Agenda Item 1).

The developer said that he needs the land for square footage and cannot build without it. In fact a newer building would be easier to take over.

This isn’t just about Bernard Luggage or the 30 small businesses being forced out. This is really about the influence that large corporate developers have over our aspects of our city government. The developer keeps pushing for more and the city caves in, even after 5 years.

The City offers “public assistance” to EMI/Capitol Records (LA Business Journal, March 15th) at the same time it is forcing out 30 small businesses to “Gentrify” Hollywood and Vine – What’s wrong with that picture?

11:56 PM  
Blogger Thunder said...

Gotta admit that I am new to this whole US system, where the gov comes knocking on your door and says: Hey, wanna sell? - No? - Fine, then you might wanna duck!".

Voila: The next thing you see is a wrecking ball coming right at you.

I've been to Holly/Vine several times and even got to speak to some of the locals, and none of them considered the Luggage Store or the other properties being an eyesore. - This is Hollywood you are talking about. - The young, the old, the good and the ugly.

The Luggage Store is the Old and the Good. -

What is happening in the City Of Angels right now is more hellish.

The few historic buildings that are left in Hollywood need to be left alone or otherwise Hollywood will look like Sidney pretty soon. And what is the fun in that?
Thunder ...

4:34 PM  

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