The Jake Files

April 19, 2006

Freeway Endorsed in Ahwatukee


 3 SE Valley mayors endorse freeway in Ahwatukee

Betty Beard
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 20, 2006 12:00 AM

The mayors of Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert on Wednesday endorsed construction of the South Mountain Freeway in Ahwatukee Foothills, an action likely to irritate freeway opponents and many residents of the isolated Phoenix community.

Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn, Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker, and Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman issued a joint statement calling the freeway "a critical part of our regional freeway system" that can cut travel times across the Valley.

"It's a key element in our regional transportation system and will alleviate a lot of traffic on our arterial streets," Dunn said in an interview. (snip)

Dunn, who said he has always supported the South Mountain portion, called it unfortunate that Phoenix allowed homes to be built in the alignment. Chandler did not allow such construction along Loop 202, he noted.

The proposed 22- to 26-mile freeway, which would run along Pecos Road and the southern end of Ahwatukee Foothills, has drawn opposition from residents there because at least 217 homes would have to be razed. Opponents also cite noise and pollution.

The Amazing Jake has two observations on this story. 

First, leadership in government means taking a clear and unambiguous position on issues that may be controversial.  Although he doesn't have to face the voters of Phoenix, the position that Mayor Dunn has taken would, if the endorsement is acted upon, have the effect of 217 private property owners losing their homes. 

Whatever position you take on the proper use of eminent domain you have to ask yourself, if she were in the same position as Mayor Dunn, what would Becky Jackson do?  If asked what course of action she would endorse, if it meant on the one hand: shortening commute times, lowering frustration for all drivers, lowering the levels of pollution while rush hour traffic idled, fostering greater economic growth for the entire Valley due to a better quality of life, etc.; or, on the other hand: tearing down 217 homes while justly compensating the property owners, how would Becky Jackson respond?

Boy, that was really long winded.  On to the second observation, not related to Becky Jackson's inability to publicly state a position.

This particular example seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable use of eminent domain for a public use.  According to FindLaw:

''The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says 'nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.' This is a tacit recognition of a preexisting power to take private property for public use, rather than a grant of new power.'' 160 Eminent domain ''appertains to every independent government. It requires no constitutional recognition; it is an attribute of sovereignty.''

This use of eminent domain is clearly different from that of the recent Kelo v. City of New London decision in the Supreme Court.  That outrageous decision stabbed a knife in the heart of private property rights by holding that instead of takings for "public USE" as the Fifth Amendment clearly defines, that it was fine and dandy for government to take property for "public PURPOSE."  The public purpose, in that case, was to tear down a woman's home so that a private developer could build something that would generate more tax revenue for the city.

The difference between the two examples is that in the freeway example, anyone can make use of the byproduct of the taken property, namely the new freeway.  In the Kelo case, private developers gain the most, with the taxpayers nominally gaining something financially.  I find the first example reasonable and appropriate, and the second example both particularly noxious and the type of things that Bostoners had a tea party over.


1 Comment »

  1. WWBJD? Is that your new mantra? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love the crickets. I like to listen to them regularly. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by A.M. — April 20, 2006 @ 12:08 am | Reply

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