Thursday, February 24, 2005 - During 'Kelo' Arguments, Justices Feel for Homeowners
Tony Mauro
Legal Times

Here's a good summary of the argument yesterday in Kelo v. City of New London. It captures the bind some of the justices seem to sense they are in: they sympathize with the owners, and they get that the "public use" language has to mean something other than the city leasing the land to developers for $1 per year, in the hope that tax revenues will go up. But they are reluctant to overrule two precedents and thereby throw a monkey wrench in the redevelopment efforts of cities all over America, which are based on the same highly questionable practice. It is a bit like saying, "Well, legally you are right, Ms. Kelo, but if we rule in your favor it will cause a disaster, because cities all over the nation are abusing the eminent domain power, too." This is portrayed as a case of small property owners versus the city. But in reality it is developers versus small property owners.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Modesto Bee: Call grows to deregulate home building--Environmental law causing valley's sprawl, critics say

Developers and some city planners long have complained that the CEQA-required [California Environmental Quality Act] environmental review process has been abused by "not-in-my-backyard" opponents less concerned about saving the planet and more interested in dragging out projects in costly court battles to scare away developers.

The result, as the builders tell it, is that new subdivisions and apartment complexes get pushed farther away and onto fertile farmland where opposition isn't as intense.

Meanwhile, the demand for housing closer to cities goes up — and with it go prices that push homeownership out of reach.

Now there's talk of eliminating some CEQA reporting requirements on a project-by-project basis to encourage housing closer to the urban core and on old industrial sites. | 02/20/2005 | Will condo czar expand powers?
The state's new condo ombudsman and the lawmaker who helped create the job are facing a daunting task.

Alone, with a $103,000 budget -- which pays little more than his $63,000-a-year salary -- Virgil Rizzo has been instructed by the Legislature to resolve hundreds of disputes between condo associations and unit owners throughout Florida. Six weeks into his new job, the Fort Lauderdale doctor and attorney is overwhelmed. And now, state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-South Miami, plans to try to expand Rizzo's responsibilities and power during the upcoming legislative session. He wants to give Rizzo subpoena power and authority over homeowners associations.