Sunday, February 3, 2008

Lowering the Bar (even more) For Developers.

No land Grab posts an excerpt from the Castlecolition article about the Goldstien vs. Pataki decision:

2nd Circuit dismisses Atlantic Yards Suit

CastleWatch Daily

The main argument lawyers for the property owners tried to make was that the main purpose of the Atlantic Yards project was to benefit a private party, that is, the development company Forest City Ratner, and that benefits to the public, like new park space, some affordable housing and improvements to the transit system were pretextual.

For those who don’t wish to read through the opinion, the court basically admits that the mere presence of a small public benefit is sufficient to disprove the pretextual taking. They admit that the properties in question aren’t blighted, that the development plan was concocted by Bruce Ratner and that there might have been some “irregularities” along the way that might indicate that there was some collusion between Ratner and local officials, but nevertheless, there is a whole 5% percent going to affordable housing, while the rest will be luxury condos, and a stadium, by definition, is a public benefit, even if Ratner has a 100 lease for $1 and will profit from events held there. In the end, the court would rather defer to the state legislature than possibly examine the sentence in Kelo majority that states a city wouldn’t “be allowed to take property under the mere pretext of a public purpose when its actual purpose was to bestow a private benefit.”


Posted by amy at February 3, 2008 10:49 AM | Permalink

With Kelo, the Supreme court expanded the definition of public benefit. With this decision the pretext of benefit is all that is necessary. As those of who have been following this boondoggle know, Ratner doesn't even have to provide the affordable housing.

Developers like Ratner, who get away with whatever they can- can now start to use this precedent they same way they abused affordable housing set asides and tax breaks. The court has given them the message that they don't have to provide real benefit they just have look like they are trying.

Companies like Forest City, whose bottom line is the bottom line and nothing else, will do just that, and nothing else; If the law requires only a pretext, then it would be foolish to waste money on actually providing anything. Atlantic Yards creates overcrowded schools? Use eminent domain to build a school. But of course the 'school' will be a few rooms crammed into a megadevelopment high rise that, since it is a 'public school' will be allowed to override historic district and zoning laws 'for the public good'. Not enough park space for the thousands of new residents? Seize a megablock of brownstones from 'selfish' 'nimbies', cram a "publicly accessible" tennis court on the rooftop of 50 story development.

Is this a fantasy? There is considerable evidence that Bruce Ranter tried to kick out Brooklyn Tech school students, steal the building, cram them into one of his poorly built, empty metrotech buildings. He was then going to convert the building to condos, and possible raze it, even thought its in the middle of an historic district, it is a public school building, which is not subject to historic district limitations. Yes, he is that ruthless and that greedy and that corrupt.

It's difficult to imagine the founding fathers, always miserly about giving the government power, envisioned this, its even more difficult to imagine that the 'justices' really believe this is 'justice'. It sure as hell is not the sort thing that happens in a healthy republic.


bobbo said...

Law is a bummer.

Anonymous said...

twisting the law and intent, misusing authority is a 'bummer' 'bobo'. It's laughable how you drop in here and celebrate corruption and misuse of authority, snearing 'that's the system'.

One day, people will tire of it, and if they don't then people like you will gain power...just hope, for your own sake there isn't a hell.