Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Benedicamus Demi-Domino:

[Latin: benedicamus domino, (let us praise/ let us give praise to) the Lord, dative of dominus, lord.]

demigod, n:

1. Mythology a. A male being, often the offspring of a god and a mortal, who has some but not all of the powers of a god. b. An inferior deity; a minor god. c. A deified man. 2. A person who is highly honored or revered.

“The moment an idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”

John Adams
A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787

eminent domain, n:

1. The right of a government to appropriate private property for public use, usually with compensation to the owner.

Disclaimer: Yes, vacant houses and commercial buildings are ugly, dangerous, and downright depressing; however, I have to ask:

Why the rush?

Project targets vacant housing

City gets tough on owners in 'blocks that we can save'; 6,000 houses put on fast track; Move to 'fix up ... or sell' starts in 10 neighborhoods

By Doug Donovan
Sun Staff
Originally published January 18, 2005

The city's housing department has launched an aggressive citywide effort to force owners of approximately 6,000 vacant houses on stable streets to sell or repair their properties - or else.


"These vacant houses are like a cancer on the block," said Eric Booker, the department's chief of housing inspections. "If you don't stop the cancer, it spreads - people move and then there are more vacants."


"The vacants are bringing the property values down," Muhammad said.


The TEVO program will roll out in 10 new neighborhoods every 30 to 60 days. The program was launched last week in Ashburton, Belair-Edison, Berea, Edmondson Village, Hanlon-Longwood, Glen, Greektown, Lakeland, Sharp-Leadenhall and Winston-Govans. About 340 properties are vacant in those 10 neighborhoods, city officials said.

Leading the charge are Letsinger's "Law & Order" team: housing inspections chief Booker and Michael Braverman, director of code enforcement's legal team. Booker builds the cases; Braverman prosecutes them.


"[Property owners] have had enough time," Letsinger said. "Where we would say, 'You have six months to fix it,' we're now saying, 'You have a month before we take legal action.'"


"If we can get the city to move on these owners to fix up these properties or sell them, we can get buyers to move in," he said. LINK

Good intentions, TEVO (Targeted Enforcement Toward Visible Outcomes)!

But you know what they say about good intentions...

There are so many cases right now concerning eminent domain abuse that the US Supremes will hear arguments on Feb. 22nd in New London and will rule in June.

I suspect municipal demigods are scurrying to complete their good intention land grabs before The Supremes rule this year.

The problem I have with today's (cough REAGAN-ERA cough) eminent domain definition is that public use has been translated into: municipalities will surely benefit if bigger and better taxpayers redevelop choice locales.

As for Baltimore v The Property-Owning Poor (my personal nomenclature)...

Canton, Federal Hill, Bolton Hill, and many other neighborhoods have been redeveloped to death. 9 Ft wide rowhouses can fetch upwards of $400,000 in choice locales.

So what's a redeveloper to do before the housing bubble bursts?

Convince the demigods to fiat a 30-day eminent domain fix-it-or-lose-it law.

Buy low and sell high before The Supremes rule in favor of George W.'s oft spewed "Ownership Society" (even though BushCo is expected to file a Friend Of The Court Brief favoring these good intention land grabs).

Declare victory and depart the field before Muhammad realizes that he now owns the ugliest property in a $400,000 property tax base neighborhood.

Ah, gentrification! It's not just for individual real estate negotiations anymore!

I certainly hope I'm wrong about Baltimore's sudden fast track good intentions concerning eminent domain!

From www.dictionary.com:

domain, n:

1. A territory over which rule or control is exercised.
2. A sphere of activity, concern, or function; a field: the domain of history. See Synonyms at field.
3. Physics. Any of numerous contiguous regions in a ferromagnetic material in which the direction of spontaneous magnetization is uniform and different from that in neighboring regions.
4. Law.
1. The land of one with paramount title and absolute ownership.
2. Public domain.

dominion, n:

1 a : supreme authority : SOVEREIGNTY b : a territory over which such authority is exercised c often cap : a self-governing nation (as Canada) of the Commonwealth other than the United Kingdom that acknowledges the British monarch as the head of state
2 : the power (as authority) or right (as ownership) to use or dispose of property; specifically : absolute or exclusive use, control, ownership, or possession of property.

domination, n:

1. Control or power over another or others.
2. The exercise of such control or power.

dominate, v (tr); v (intr):

1. To control, govern, or rule by superior authority or power: Successful leaders dominate events rather than react to them.
2. To exert a supreme, guiding influence on or over: Ambition dominated their lives.
3. To enjoy a commanding, controlling position in: a drug company that dominates the tranquilizer market.
4. To overlook from a height: a view from the cliffside chalet that dominates the valley.

v. intr.

1. To have or exert strong authority or mastery.
2. To be situated in or occupy a position that is more elevated or decidedly superior to others.


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