September 22, 2013 |
The genius of the state's late and not-very-much-lamented community redevelopment agencies was that they built projects that raised property values and then kept for themselves the higher tax receipts that resulted. Normally, taxes are divvied up among the city, the county, the school districts and the state, but in a California-style CRA project area, any tax receipts beyond what the parcel already had been generating would stay with the agency to pay off bonds and invest in new projects.
July 30, 2013 |
In a city derided for its lack of historic consciousness, murals tell the narrative of Los Angeles. Political movements, surfers' idylls, Hollywood stars - all have been captured on the sides of buildings, freeways and fences. Whether they are great art - some are, some are not - is almost beside the point. They are part of the cultural history of the city and its people. But since 2003, there has been an absolute prohibition on the creation of any murals on private property. The ban went into effect as part of the city's long-running billboard wars - it was an effort to prevent commercial sign companies from passing off advertisements as murals.
July 5, 2013 |
Later this summer, following years of legal skirmishing and politicking, the Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote on whether to lift its decade-old ban on private-property murals. Some questions surrounding the proposed ordinance have been around since at least 1932, when the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros painted his polemical masterpiece "América Tropical" in downtown Los Angeles, which was subsequently whitewashed and finally restored last year. Among them are: What happens when an individual artist or property owner's free-speech rights collide with another group's aesthetic preferences or personal views?
June 26, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - In a decision bolstering private property rights, the Supreme Court ruled that a Florida landowner could sue a local government agency for denying him a building permit because he refused to pay for improvements on public property several miles away. The 5-4 decision expanded the ability of property owners to claim that government requirements attached to land-use permits amount to an improper "taking" under the Constitution. The 5th Amendment says private property can not be taken for public use without "just compensation.
June 25, 2013 |
When José Huizar was growing up in Boyle Heights in the 1970s, the profusion of murals on apartment buildings and private homes spoke to a burgeoning sense of community pride among the city's Mexican American population. "They had a positive impact on me, especially the one 'We Are Not a Minority,'" said Huizar, an L.A. city councilman, referring to a well-known mural at the Estrada Courts housing complex. "It made me question and ask about my identity and what life is about in East L.A. It's kind of empowering.
December 3, 2012 |
The Santa Monica Nativity scene will go on display after all -- on private property, where it belongs. The holiday display in a city park had become a divisive issue in Santa Monica, which had instituted a lottery for holiday displays -- spots that were mostly won by atheist groups. Faced with the requirement of either fairly allowing all religious beliefs to have space or none, the city opted for the latter. Court challenges to that decision lost. I'd take it one step further.