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The Public Interest and Private Property

October 11, 1992

Responding to David Czamanske's "Commentary" on the La Vina Housing Plan (Times Oct. 4), I agree that the loss of beautiful foothill forest acreage to residential development is lamentable. However, the land in question is privately owned. It belongs to the owners who purchased it and who have paid taxes on it. If the public deems the land important enough to preserve, it should tax itself and purchase it at fair market value. Wars and revolutions have occurred when government confiscates property without just compensation.

Land use regulation and court actions are often employed with the primary purpose of impeding private development. Grind the landowner sufficiently and maybe he or she will give up development plans. Such guerrilla tactics should, in my view, be discouraged. The public has the power to "condemn" (and pay for) property for public use. It should not be able to picnic for free on the backs of property owners.

ROBERT M. NEWELL Jr.

San Marino

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