September 4, 2008
The roller coaster of preservation laws …
Should government pay special attention to the effect of land use laws on distinctive private land uses? Should government act affirmatively to try to preserve these distinctive land uses?
Today brings a sad announcement: The operator of Astroland, the unique beachfront amusement park on Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, has announced that it will close the business for good this weekend. Astroland, which opened in the outer-space-besotted America of 1962, offers vintage rides and bizarre carnival acts. But this kind of entertainment is no longer as popular as it once was, and some complained that both the city and the owner of the land might prefer more high-income-oriented land uses. The operator reportedly complained that it was unable to get more than a one-year lease. Government officials are already acting to encourage Astroland to stay.
If your image of Coney Island is the famous Cyclone roller coaster (operated by Astroland for many years), worry not: it is a designated historic landmark and won’t be closing.
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September 2, 2008
While Gustav misses, the rebuilding from Katrina remains off target …
While we can be very thankful that hurricane Gustav did not batter Louisiana and Mississippi nearly as badly as Katrina did three years ago, the anniversary also brought some assessment of the government land use projects that were adopted after the feeling of shame over government failings in the days immediately after Katrina. Both the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the New York Times printed stories that were highly critical of the multi-billion-dollar federally funded project that was supposed to pay for Louisiana residents who lacked decent insurance to return and rebuild their homes. The chief problem has been that the state government has imposed so many bureaucratic hurdles and delays –- in large part to avoid fraud, always a concern in Louisiana –- that the money simply has been too slow for most former residents. Those who could pay to return have done so, and many who hoped to rely on Road Home assistance have found the bureaucracy quite maddening.
This story offers a lesson for proposals to help those in mortgage crises and for other federal land use assistance plans.
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