>What is the "Wise" Use movement? What is the NAPC?
The Wise Use movement is the effort by a very quiet and extremely
intentional and organized group to interpret the constitution in such a way
that any government regulation is treated as a taking of private property,
requiring compensation to the owner. A broad application of this kind of
thinking taken to its extreme would undermine the ability of local
governments to undertake any kind of planning and zoning activity, because
they would have to pay land owners for almost anything they sought to do:
for instance, we have only lately come to the recognition that building in
floodways is not a very smart idea and has all sorts of costs to society
when a flood happens and people get killed and houses get mildewy. So we
pass a zoning ordinance that prohibits building in a floodway. Wise Use
proponents would have you pay them for taking away their ability to build
on that land and get themselves washed out every 10 years or so and receive
federal flood insurance money for their trouble. The same with
preservation ordinances...you zone an area a historic district, you are
messing with somebody's private property rights; thus compensation should
be given for an ordinance that protects the public's interest in the
community's heritage, while providing security to those willing to make
substantial private investments in rehabilitating these properties, which
increases property values, and the private property owner makes money when
they do sell the real estate.
The flaw of Wise Use thinking is the belief that land has value in and of
itself. This is not true. It is the public investment in infrastructure
and the entire structure of zoning that gives land its value. A square
foot of land in Manhattan is worth considerably more money than one in
Montana (I make a distinction here in reporting value; I can think of a
number of people that would value a SF of Montana wide sky more than a SF
of Manhattan narrow sky)...where does the difference in value come from?
It's the same thing...one square foot of earth.
The NAPC is an acronym almost as inscrutable as PTN and PIN were to me when
I first wandered in: National Alliance of Preservation Commissions.
>I am already aware that what is taken for granted in NYC is not recognized
>anywhere past 75 miles from Manhattan. I need to know more about what you are
>expressing in the Far West. I feel a gulph exists between Chicago & LA and
>not sure what the territory carries. I've had some interesting encounters with
>Texas, and for what they have been, HP perspective seemed fairly regular
>Do you know where I can look on the I-way?
That's not called a gulph out there, it's one giant dry gulch. The HP
perspective remains fairly regular wherever you go, it's what every one
else thinks that seems to vary...in the west, preservationeers have to
struggle more with overcoming the private property rights end of the
The wise use movement and the efforts to undermine the long history of
jurisprudence in takings law is a big big complicated topic that I've
become familiar with over time. I do not know where one can find
information on the net. I'll wager a little effort with search engines
would turn up some mighty interesting propaganda. The National Trust's
_Preservation Law Reporter_ has pithy reviews of cases regarding assaults
on takings law from time to time. Probably one of the best discussions of
the the history of takings law and the implications of this misconstruing
of the constitution is "Responding to the Takings Challenge," by Richard J.
Roddewig and Christopher J. Duerksen, APA/PAS [American Planning
Association/Planning Advisory Service] Report No. 416. Also very good is
_Takings Law in Plain English_, by the same two learned dudes, "produced
for the American Resources Information Network, a cooperative project of
more than 100 organizations interested in ensuring that the public is
provided accurate and balanced information on the relationship between
private property rights and the public interest." The National Trust is
one of the sponsoring organizations; they have distributed it widely, and I
suspect you could obtain a copy from the Trust.
Dan Becker, Executive Director "Conformists die, but
Raleigh Historic heretics live on forever"
Districts Commission -- Elbert Hubbard
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