Sunday, May 15, 2005

Why Blighted is Bad

When the government declares an area blighted that gives them the power of eminent domain, the incredible power to cherry pick who can stay and who can go. They can force you to sell your property and develop it anyway way they want.

This clearly violates the ownership society concept.

Worse, the term "blighted" is a slap in the face to everyone who has grown up in Leucadia, everyone who works in Leucadia, everyone who owns a business in Leucadia, every home owner in Leucadia, and generally insults anyone who had contributed to the community over the years.

The stigma of living and working in a blighted community does more harm than good. The timing seems especially bizarre since more great little restaurants and markets like Leucadia Sushi, Le Petit Calypso, Wakei, Just Peachy Market, El Torito Market etc. have opened recently. My wife and I personally spend hundreds of hard earned dollars at these places. We are not wealthy trustfunders. We work!

It's also incredible to think that the Gifford's are selling their classic Neptune Ave. cliffside home, The Roundhouse, for 6.5 million dollars. This is a blighted community? Roundhouse is walking distance to Leucadia Donut Shop, the heart of this so-called blight.

???

Back in the day eminent domain was meant for big public works like railroads and freeways. These days cheeky city councils across America are using it to build shopping malls with their developer golf buddies. Scary stuff. If your home is due for a fresh coat of paint you may want to get that taken care of or you could be driven out.

The city (and the residents in theory) get to keep more tax money collected from the state after an area is declared blighted and redeveloped. At first this sounds great. But eminent domain is so scary that special promises and language would be required from the 5 city council members to gain my trust.

Do the math, BLIGHTED + EMINENT DOMAIN = LANDSNATCH

Yes, it would be awesome if our taxes stayed local. But Encinitas isn't hurting for coin. The city has a surplus of funds! Longtime residents will notice that in the last 5 years just about every square inch of land has been transformed into a yuppie wonderland of identical stucco, red shingled McMansions. This hardcore speed sprawl has increased our tax base (and caused a heck of a lot of traffic jams in our once sleepy community).

Leucadia is hardly blighted. It is a thriving community with many restaurants and shops. There are still a few empty lots with weeds and flowers, a rarity in sprawl*mart southern California, and the city council is licking their chops at the chance to take those lots for themselves.

Downtown Encinitas didn't look much better than Leucadia a few years ago. But the city rallied some funds together and really fixed things up. It looks great! And they did it without declaring the area blighted.

Why the double standard?

1 comment:

  1. Well said, neighbor. We are the beneficiaries of a wonderful way of life in Leucadia -- the last original community on the 101. If the council wants redevelopment, why not lend money and expertise to local business folk? Why not offer incentives for retail and restaurant beautification? Why not be as creative as the hundreds of artists, entrepreneurs and small business people who call Leucadia home? Protect the businesses on the 101 from flooding and we might be surprised who moves in and makes a go of it.

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