Something fishy in Hollywood Florida?
Hat tip to Florida Cracker who links to a very interesting Sun Sentinel column written by Michael Mayo.
Last month I blogged about how the Hollywood Florida City Council voted to begin eminent domain proceedings against land owner David Mach. The City Council had the previous year come to an agreement with developer Charles Abele that if Mr. Abele couldn't buy the property from Mr. Mach, that the City Council would then use eminent domain.
I thought this was little more than thievery when I read this news. It was just the day before Kelo was handed down by those five knuckleheads on the USSC.
Mr. Mayo's column only solidifies my original feelings about this land grab in Hollywood. The She referred to in the column is City Mayor Mara Giulianti
Take the raging case of the Mach family, whose commercial property the city wants to take through a forced sale for a 19-story condominium project on Young Circle. The city commission, by a 5-2 vote, has chosen to go the eminent domain route, spending plenty in taxpayer money, because the developer and the family couldn't agree on a sale price.
She downplayed the issues of individual property rights and potential government abuse of power. She made much about developer Chip Abele being a good guy because he serves on the board of the local Boys and Girls Club and criticized the family because she hasn't known them to do any charitable community work.
Now there's a reasonable basis for public policy.
Mr. Mayo is absolutely right. The Mayor really believes this is justified because Mr. Adele gives to charity. It sounds awfully dumb to me, but idiot politicians are a dime a dozen these days. Or could there be more to this. Read on.
The city lavishes favored developers with tens of millions of dollars in incentives, but uses hardball nickel-and-dime tactics against a family whose land it wants.
Meanwhile, the city has launched an effort to curtail hip-hop nightlife and remove certain menacing-looking people, such as Greyhound bus riders, from the soon-to-be-condoized Young Circle area.In Hollywood, people will soon know their place.
Now that the city has helped with the sale of the Greyhound terminal to Abele for another high-rise project, Giulianti wasn't concerned where a new terminal will go. She said Dixie Highway would be appropriate.
And she said the crackdown on late-night clubs with DJs is not racially motivated, even though the commission's contortions to craft the new liquor ordinances practically screams, "Everyone but young blacks in baggy pants welcome."
So this isn't the first business deal with Abele. There's more.
Giulianti seemed genuinely hurt when I said outsiders might view the new rules as elitist at best, racist at worst. She said city manager Cameron Benson, an African-American, helped craft them and that it's better to keep out "anti-social hooligans" by rewriting ordinances than dealing with them once they're here.
She cited fighting, rowdyism, public urination and bottle-breaking as justification for the effort.Then why not just beef up police presence on weekends to deal with criminal behavior?
"That could cost $1 million a year in overtime," she said.
Funny, Giulianti didn't seem to mind giving $25 million in inducements to Abele for his two proposed projects.
The City is paying 25 million to a developer so he can rebuild on land claimed by the citizen. This doesn't count any profit Mr. Abele makes. There's more.
And she didn't mind giving $11 million in inducements to developer Steve Berman for his Radius condominium project that didn't need much help: All units were gobbled up with $15,000 deposits in one day, before a shovel hit the ground.
Apparently, Hollywood would rather siphon its money into the pockets of the private sector than onto its streets.
Mr. Mayo writes for a newspaper, I'm reading between the lines of what he is saying and the whole thing smells very badly.
To those who don't know the South Florida housing market, it's booming like the rest of the country. I live in Palm Beach County some fifty miles north of Hollywood. A home the exact double of mine sold just last month for nearly THREE TIMES what I paid for my own in 1998.
My sister-in-law is trying to buy a condo in western Broward County. This same condo is selling for twice the amount it was bought at three years ago. There is a shortage of housing here, and a housing market going wild.
Therefore why does the city have to pay a developer to help develop his land?
Especially to developers represented by Alan Koslow, a former city attorney and partner at the powerful Becker and Poliakoff firm. Koslow helped get the incentive deals for Abele and Berman from the city's special Community Redevelopment Agency tax fund.
David Mach said he intends to highlight the curious deals and cozy relationships should eminent domain proceedings go to court.
"What do these people need incentives for, so they could make $50 million instead of $30 million?" Mach said.
Good question Mr. Mach. Politicians and developers in cahoots with one another. Plenty of possibilities for corruption and pay-offs. This whole thing stinks.