Friday, June 24, 2005

Implications of Seizing Homes and What is being for Limited Government

The recent Kelo decision that allows local authorities in New London, Connecticut to seize homes to allow for private developers to build an office building in that space has important implications in terms of how representative officials are of their community.

As Mark Singer of Sirotablog says of a D.C. plan to dispalce property owners to build a stadium: this is "...what is wrong with this notion of 'economic development.' Mayor Williams says he is improving a neighborhood, but he is doing it by getting rid of the people who use the neighborhood."

How representative of a neighborhood are its officials if they are displacing the people they would claim to represent? And for a reason that doesn't seem to have a large community purpose (i.e. a sports stadium).

This case also hammers home the fact that there will be times when certain interests who usually favor limited government (like private real estate firms) are for government intervention into local matters when it benefits them. The same goes for all sorts of interests, which makes it worth questioning how much genuity can be attributed to the claim of being unconditionally for limited government.


Chris said...

Having agreed with you on the previous post...I agree mostly on this one.

They do need a real baseball park for the team, but they should have thought about that BEFORE they begged for the team back.

MLB has already been in trouble in DC for wanting to build the Nationals' headquarters in SE.
The neighborhood at issue is one most cities would probably like to "improve." They issue is mostly about building a headquarters for the Washington Nationals in SE in a neighborhood notorious for its plethora of really seedy establishments (they happen to be gay, btw), but I think baseball bringing neighborhood improvment to an area that really needs it (I don't think you can get much worse than SE DC) as well as benefit to not just DC but to the DC Metro area trumps "places of ill repute" (whether hetero or homo). Such a case of this complicates things a little bit, but for the plans actually in the Wash Post are exactly the problem with this SCOTUS ruling.

Elaine said...

The issue I would raise is whether the neighborhood improvement involves driving residents out or having them become involved in and share in revitalization. I don't know the details on the area right by the MCI Center (that's what it's called right?) near Chinatown, but it seems to me that revitalizing Chinatown mainly involved making the neighborhood sport fan-friendly. (I was in Ctown-Gallery Place area in March, and boy has it changed from when I went to a Chinese restaurant there maybe ten years ago).

I am all for improving neighborhoods but through programs that involve the residents (like the ABCD--Asset Based Community Development--concept that is championed by a prof here at NU's social policy school), but just to put a baseball stadium alone in there seems like it's more for the team than the neighborhood.

I don't know about SE in particular, but in general I think seedy neighborhoods are not ideal and that probably a good portion of residents would like to reclaim the neighborhood. I don't know the best way to rid of such bringing in a stadium just displacing it to somewhere else? Probably. Will such enterprises that constitute seediness continue to exist somewhere? I'm sure. I just think the residents should have a say in their neighborhood's future.

Chris said...

Yeah, it's the MCI Center, and it has gotten a lot better than it used to be. It has made the area "fan-friendly," but, really, it's made it a good destination for restaurants and clubs.

However, the same thing happened in Wrigleyville. At some point in the 80s or 90s, it turned from a fairly sketchy area and is now, I guess you could say, "fan-friendly." And the area around Comiskey "U.S. Cellular Field" (what an awful awful name) has started to improve greatly especially since the Sox are now the best team in baseball. I don't know if these areas received benefit from anything besides the stadium or if the planning had input from residents, but whatever it was, it seems to be working. Yes, Wrigley Field has been there forever, and I'm not sure what the circumstances were for the newer Sox park, but I think the latter demonstrates the potential power of a stadium for improvement.

I agree about your musings over seediness, btw. But I've come to realize that neighborhood quality kind of goes in cycles in cities. Georgetown used to be like SE thiry years ago or so, but it's now extremely desirable, while the area around Catholic University has huge huge old houses, but it's now one of the worst neighborhoods in DC. One day, it'll be the other way around again.