Monday, July 27, 2009

Let land markets function

This is not unintended self-parody, but it looks that way. There is now a fight over whether to "save" the 1960s era Century Plaza hotel in Century City in West LA. Why? Because Ronald Reagan was a regular? I have been there a few times and the place has very little going for it.

People here have organized to preserve a car wash, many oldie diners and all sorts of other marginally interesting "landmarks". Some people have time on their hands and pile on when they can.

But abridging owners' property rights has a huge downside. Consider the ramifications. Cities fulfill their key economic functions when land use arrangements are allowed to emerge bottom-up. When places cease being economically viable (for whatever reason), they generate huge costs for many years. We have all seen too many cities and neighborhoods that have ceased being lively and viable, but which have entered very long term decline. We already have too many of these.


Some correspondents take me to task for putting down a building that has considerable merit in their eyes. What to do? The only way out is for the fans to raise the funds to purchase and preserve the place. Place money near mouth?