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1%er U2 guitarist trying to lobby his way past California Coastal Commission regulations to build monster mansions.
SACRAMENTO — The California Coastal Commission rejected a controversial proposal last year by U2 guitarist the Edge to build five mansions on a scenic bluff above Malibu, saying that it would scar a r...
John Bump's profile photoCharles Traupmann's profile photoLauren Weinstein's profile photoThomas Bushnell, BSG's profile photo
He should move to Belize!  I hear they'll let you skip just about any environmental regulations down there, if you're rich!
The main purpose of the Coastal Commission is to guarantee that the current owners of mega mansions on the beach are prevented the degradation caused by new mega mansions on the beach.
+Thomas Bushnell That is a misrepresentation in the extreme.  The Coastal Commission has been fighting for years against wealthy homeowners -- to regain beach access for the public in Malibu for example -- and attempting to protect the relatively pristine areas that remain.  That's a thumbs-up in my book.
I see no reason to preference current homeowners over future ones. I'm all for protecting the beauty of the place, but the beneficiaries of that are primarily the people who live there. (Beach access is a different question, about which the CC does a great job.)

IOW, if the goal is to minimize homes on the beach, let's start now! Of course that will never happen, but the reason it will never happen is that it is unthinkable to demolish an existing home in the name of making the environment better, and yet, minus-one mansion is minus-one mansion either way.
+Thomas Bushnell You're not making sense.  What's there is there.  If we can prevent what's left from being overbuilt, that's a good thing.  No reason to throw up your hands and complain that the past isn't being erased.
The houses there now could easily be removed. I say, let's get to it. The reason we don't is because the state has carefully organized its policies to do the most for the environment without touching on current homeowners at all. And the result is extraordinarily to their benefit.

But the last house is just as harmful as the next one. Let's actually improve the situation. We won't of course, because, as I said, the purpose of the law is (among other things) to create exactly this benefit to current owners.
+Thomas Bushnell What would be the legal grounds for removing existing houses that had been previously approved and built?  I know you're not serious about this, so why even bring it up? 
A law would need to be passed, of course. I'm poking at the question of why we have the laws we do; remember, I'm not complaining as if the Coastal Commission were failing to live up to it's mandate. I think it does a fine job. I just think its mandate was carefully constructed to hand this particular benefit to current homeowners. (Remember, it works an extraordinary increase in the value of their homes that the supply is permanently limited.)

The purpose of most laws is to ensure that the people with current political and economic power retain both; this is not a radical exception. When laws (such as this one) have an important environmental purpose, they will (as this one) be carefully constructed to guarantee that current political and economic power remains relatively untrammeled upon.

Why should I be more upset with The Edge than a current homeowner on the beach? They're both doing, or trying to do, the same thing.
+Thomas Bushnell So in other words, since we presumably don't want to run fast and loose with eminent domain and start confiscating homes and properties all over the place that were legally bought and built, your alternative is ... what exactly?  You seem to be saying that since there already are big homes, we might as well let more big homes be build and use up whatever area is left.  Ya' see, I don't really care if the open areas that are left financial benefit the existing homeowners.  I just want the open area left alone, and ideally open for public access as much as possible.
Eminent domain is a law which benefits who...and why...? I'm amazed that you aren't interested in making more public access space! I am!
In contemporary times in any area of the U.S. with which I'm familiar, eminent domain is only used to support additional development not "undevelopment" of already existing areas.  Even when existing areas are condemned under eminent domain and torn down, it is only for construction of other developments (housing, freeways, train lines, businesses, etc.)  There may be a few exceptions, but they're few and far between.  I'm sure you know this, so at this point you're starting to move the needle toward the Troll Zone on this topic.
The US Constitution permits eminent domain condemnations for any public purpose. Of course it's mostly used for new development, but guess why?

However, the US Constitution did not descend from heaven like Venus. It is a political document. Whose interests are being served?
+Thomas Bushnell Now you're starting to sound like Scalia on the Constitution.  It's how eminent domain is used today that matters, and it's not generally used to take away people's houses that were legally built in order to replace them with open land.  You're trolling.
No, you're simply not hearing my point. I'm saying that the whole apparatus is set up to ensure that current property owners can keep their stuff, and that I have no stake in a fight between The Edge and his fellow 1%ers in Malibu. I would like all of them to not have houses on the beach, and I have no reason to prefer one to the other.

But you're quite right that it's how it's used that matters, and my question is why is that how it's used? The question of how it's used is, in fact, the only question, and how it's used is to preference current property holders (as a class) always, and current property holders (as individuals) almost always.

Of course I understand the political reasons why this is true, that's what I'm talking about.
You seem to be upset that preserving some open space that's left can benefit rich people who built earlier in the area.  I don't care if it benefits them or not, if the end result is preserving the open space, which is a positive goal in any case.
I'm not upset; I simply said that the purpose of the CC was to guarantee a benefit to current homeowners at the expense of potential new ones. I should have said "one of the purposes of the CC, without which it would not exist".
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