Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lawsuits against government actions

In a thread on a list I am on there is a discussion how about residents in one monied community in California continue to fight the restoration and expansion of an elementary school--the school had been sold off but decades later it has been bought back for re-use as a school, because of enrollment increases.

The architect leading the design effort made the point that this kind of litigation discourages public bodies from taking up similar battles in the future, and can get them to fold, even if they are right.

2.  On GGW there is a discussion of the 5333 Connecticut Avenue NW/Cafritz battle ("Fight over 5333 Connecticut reveals dysfunctional process").  Some residents--people who fought off having a historic district (sad irony)--are suing over the project, which was mostly matter of right, on the basis of how certain heights for the project are being calculated.

Based on my experience with similar cases, I can't see how the residents will win, because the practice for measurement of allowable height is pretty well defined.

3.  Taxi drivers have sued the city ("D.C. cabbies file lawsuit over new requirements" WTOP radio) about certain aspects of new regulations that guide their operations, based on Constitutional grounds.  Based on my limited experience with jury duty, I learned why they will lose.

I didn't know that Constitutional rights are limited mostly to our person and where we live, but not to other objects, like cars, which we operate as a privilege and with a license from government.  This came up in a bunch of cases where we learned that the Supreme Court--for good or bad--has ruled and agreed to limits on Constitutional protections with regard to automobile use, etc.

By extension, this includes professions which require licensing and regulation, such as operating taxis on a city's street and selling the services, as a common carrier, to the public.

They choose to participate in a licensed profession.  Within the authority of the regulators is the power to impose standards of operation.   (And other cities have similar requirements.)

4.  In the discussion about the case in California, we talked about putting limits on the ability to sue.  There's a fine line between restricting speech and rights and limits.  People can sue even if their grounds are weak.

The problem is that deep pocketed plaintiffs can win because of their deep pockets, and not the merits.

So I can see having the possibility of having to pay for the legal costs of the winning side by the losing side to be a worthwhile check.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home