Clash Of The Titans

Some land use issues are clear cut. It’s easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Kelo, for instance. No doubting the wickedness of the local officials who decided to bulldoze a vibrant neighborhood in favor of Big Rich Corporation. Or Jim Naugle the mayor of Ft. Lauderdale, who had this to say about a tax that would help create affordable housing in his city:

“I’m supposed to subsidize some schlock sitting on the sofa and drinking a beer, who won’t work more than 40 hours a week?” he asked. “I deny that there is a problem. You can buy condos all day for $160,000. . . . The concept of this ordinance is from each according to his ability, to each according to need, which is the Communist Manifesto.”

Maybe he is right on the economics, but he is still a major jackass.

Sometimes, however, you don’t know who the good guys are. Take this situation in California:

A San Francisco suburb voted Tuesday to use the power of eminent domain to prevent Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from setting up shop after hearing from dozens of residents opposed to the big-box retailer. . . . The overflow crowd that packed into tiny City Hall cheered after the City Council decision to seize 17 acres where Wal-Mart intended to build a shopping complex. . . .

Some residents and Hercules city officials say the land, which is currently open space, would be better suited for upscale stores that attract affluent shoppers and give the suburb a classy touch. . . . A handful of residents said Wal-Mart could provide a much-needed place to purchase inexpensive goods, particularly for residents who can’t drive out of town. “I know I can go there and get a fair price for a good product,” said Glenna Phillips, who has lived in Hercules for 26 years.

So it’s the Beast of Bentonville v. Hercules. Only Hercules is not the ancient Roman hero, but a bunch of hoity-toity Californians. For whom do you cheer? It’s like sitting in front of the tube on a fall afternoon watching the Gators play the Vols: You wish there was some way they could both lose.

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