Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Modern land use: Los Angeles pushes out industry and farms …

[Southern California week, continued …]

  Los Angeles is most famous for its entertainment industry, but its diversified economy has often been at the forefront of land use law.  One of the landmark victories for modern land use regulation was Hadacheck v. Sebastian, 239 U.S. 394, decided in favor of the Los Angeles police chief by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1915.  Through a land use ordinance, the rapidly growing city (autos were starting to crowd city streets) outlawed the plaintiff’s successful brick kiln operation, costing him (according to the plaintiff) more than 90% of the clay-laden property’s value.  Concluding that neither financial hardship to the landowner, his vested interest, or any other factor limited the city’s police power to enact ordinances to further “progress,” the Supreme Court upheld the ordinance (Justice Scalia was not yet on the bench!), helping pave the way for cities to shape the direction of land uses within their borders.   

Sanfernandovalleymountains    A 21st century echo was recently heard in the San Fernando Valley north of the city, with the final demise of the remnants of “Egg City,” once called the world’s largest egg farm.  Founded after World War II by a refugee from Nazi tyranny, Egg City at its peak produced 2 millions eggs per day, despite a growing chorus of complaints from residents who filled the valley in the ‘50s and ‘60s, forcing the operation to move a number of times.  Unlike Hadacheck’s brick kiln, however, Egg City survived a number of zoning changes.  Eventually lawsuits and other factors forced a shrinkage of the egg farm.  Abandoned buildings burned down earlier this month.  Here’s a fuller story from the L.A. Times.


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