Thomas Sowell

"Open space" laws are just one of the weapons in their arsenal. Other legal impediments to building include so-called "smart growth" policies, historical preservation laws, and zoning boards and coastal commissions with arbitrary powers to limit or forbid building.

The financially ruinous powers of delay that these and other laws and institutions can impose on anyone wanting to build anything can be illustrated by a current legal case involving a developer who has for 15 years been prevented from building in the coastal California town of Half Moon Bay.

A judge recently awarded him $36 million in damages but that decision has been appealed. Anyone familiar with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals knows that anything can happen there -- including more years of delay.

Someone once said that the ability to tax is the ability to destroy. So is the ability to delay.

When a business sets standards or policies with adverse effects that fall disproportionately on minorities, courts call that a "disparate impact" and equate it with discrimination.

But the same liberals who applaud that approach when it comes to businesses would be appalled if the same standard were applied to their own environmentalist restrictions that force vast numbers of blacks out of their own upscale liberal communities.

Nor do black "leaders" who are quick to cry "discrimination" and "racism" in other contexts. Apparently it all depends on whose ox is gored.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate



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