Debra J. Saunders
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  Meanwhile, Revelli and Fung have lost their livelihoods.

 I plead guilty to gushing back in 1999 about Mayor Jerry Brown's plan to add 6,000 units of housing to the downtown area -- and with private money. I never dreamed, however, that Oakland would evict successful, blight-free businesses so that private developers could make more money.

 I called the offices of Council Members Jane Brunner and Ignacio De La Fuente, Mayor Jerry Brown, and some city officials connected with what is called the Uptown Project. I heard many reasons why various biggies couldn't talk to me.

 Brown -- to his credit -- did talk.

 "I know Revelli," said Brown. "He fixed my brakes, twice." Brown lives seven blocks away from Revelli's shop. He admitted that Autohouse and Revelli Tires are not blighted, but told of other buildings nearby that were crime-ridden and vermin-infested before the city pushed for redevelopment.

 "You cannot have a downtown with this kind of abandonment," said Brown. And: "There is a greater good here," in eradicating the blight and replacing it with homes.

  The mayor also made a pledge: "It's not easy, but I personally pledge to do everything I can to get this guy located." Fung, too.

 If that doesn't happen, it is not as if Oakland couldn't redevelop the land around Autohouse and Revelli Tires, which occupy about 6,500 square feet amid asphalt parking lots.

  "I was very, very happy there," Revelli told me. "I had the best building, the best location -- one block from the BART station. I couldn't have asked for better."

  Well, there was one problem with Revelli's property: It was on such a prime location, the government virtually stole it.

 You could be next.

 Woody Guthrie wrote: "This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island. From the redwood forest, to the gulf-stream waters, this land was made for you and me."

  As far as the U.S. Supreme Court and Oakland are concerned, alas, those lyrics are all wet. To the true believers in eminent domain, your land is their land, and all land was made to produce optimal tax revenue.

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Debra J. Saunders


 
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