Friday, November 26, 2010

"minor win" and Major Question

The Times-Picayune was right to characterize some LSU Footprint design concessions by the State of Louisiana as a minor win.

Thanks to Mayor Mitch Landrieu for pressing the State on the concerns and commissioning Goody Clancy to study the issue.  It's good to see that the City made efforts to retain its prerogative to close the streets and permit for a staggered closing.

There also won't be nearly as many acres of surface level parking lot.

Still, even with design changes, the real problem, the size of the footprint, has not changed, from what I can tell. Nor has the expropriation of properties in the UMC Footprint stopped (unless due to the CDC computer crisis).

Really, this minor win...opens up even more questions. Why?  Because eminent domain is definitely in the mix when it comes to seizing properties for the project. And the State is talking about putting in private retail on portions of the site. Even the state is aware of the potential pitfalls of using government takings to turn over land to private entities:

Additionally, Jerry Jones, the state's property and construction chief, confirmed that both parking decks will have retail spaces on the ground level, fronting Tulane Avenue. He also said patient towers to be built along Canal Street will be pushed back from the curb to allow private retail development. That is contingent, Jones said, on getting legal clearance for such land use given that the state is cobbling together the land using eminent domain that requires a valid public purpose for the overall project.

Using takings - forcing some people out of their homes against their will in this instance - for the benefit of private development, like retail space, is what happened in one of the most widely reviled Supreme Court cases in recent decades, City of New London v. Kelo.

Will the state risk it?

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