City's Plan for Boosting Southern Dallas? Horses, Golf and Completely Screwing Over a Latino Small Businessman

Categories: Schutze

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Scott K. Parks has a pretty good OK story in The Dallas Morning News today. It's the good-enough-for-Belo version of a story we brought you two weeks ago about the city's use of eminent domain to seize a privately owned parcel of land near the Trinity River, sandwiched between the equestrian park and exclusive private golf course the city is developing in the heart of a poor neighborhood in southern Dallas.

Pretty good. It's a step ahead for our city's only daily newspaper even to acknowledge that this controversy exists. After our piece was published, the story was covered by TV and probably was getting sort of hard to ignore. But let's give credit where credit is due. The piece in today's Morning News does tell people that the city is in court suing to seize private property even though the current use of the property poses zero environmental threat and actually conforms to the recreational uses the city has in mind for the area all around it.

The story stops short, of course, of telling anybody what it's really all about. I say of course, because that's the way it is with the city's only daily. The last thing they ever want to do is connect the dots. But that's OK. That's why we are here.

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Connect the dots to see what the city's use of eminent domain (aka "theft by government") is doing to Rhadames Solano. We put the dots close together to make it easy for you.
Instead, Parks sums up the situation this way: "The condemnation suit sets up the latest chapter of a familiar, recurring story surrounding the city's decades-long attempt to stimulate development along the Trinity -- the small businessman who finds himself in the path of a seemingly unstoppable economic freight train."

Eh. I have to say not really. I don't actually remember a decades-long saga of small businessmen standing in the path of freight trains here. If anything, this particular situation is quite unique, and that, Dear Reader, is more or less the whole point.

The city says it must seize a 23-acre commercial athletic club owned by Rhadames Solano "to control this flood plain and protect the area," as Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan reiterated to Parks.

That statement falls neatly within the category of information that we here in the alternative press describe as "utter and complete fork-tongued bullshit" or UCFTBS. How do we know it is UCFTBS? This actually is not rocket science. First, we take a gander at the floodplain in question, described on the city's own floodplain maps as the Trinity River Five Mile Creek watershed.


Next step is a second gander at other large parcels in the same area which we find conveniently laid out on the property map provided by our county tax appraisal district. We don't have to be Sherlock Holmes here. Right away presto: Here are all sorts of large property owners who seem not to be under threat of eminent domain, whose property the city apparently does not need to control or protect. I checked recent City Council resolutions concerning eminent domain in this area and found only Solano and the owner next to him, who also is sandwiched by the horse and golf people.

I don't want to call out anybody in a way that will make them a target or anything, but I see any number of owners here whose names are not Rhadames Solano, many of whose properties look like they sit closer to creeks and the river than Solano. They include owners with names like Dallas Demolition, Go Crete, Hope Agri Products Inc. and so on.

So what are the notable differences between these owners and their properties and Solano and his property? For one, they sound less like small businesses, more like big businesses. Secondly, even though some of their properties would seem to have closer impact on the floodplain than his, they are not sandwiched between the equestrian center and private golf course that the city seeks to develop.

Those are the dots. The connection between them is painfully obvious. The city won't say it on the record for a number of reasons. Seizing private property and shutting down a going concern flies in the face of the UCFTBS reasons the city has been handing out to justify the equestrian center and golf course. The city says bringing a bunch of horse and golf people into the area will help the people who are already there get jobs and develop businesses.

Solano is already there. He already has a business. He set it up himself. He didn't need horse-riders or golfers to tell him how to do it. Now the city wants to quash his business so that he can ... what? Get a job as a caddie?

But the other connection between the dots is even worse. The reason the city wants Solano's land and not the land owned by Go Crete or Dallas Demolition has everything to do with the horse park and golf course. Please. We're not all just blind idiots out here. We can look at the map. We can connect the dots. They want to use eminent domain to take Solano's property from him so they can give it to the horsey golf people somehow or at least protect them from being exposed to other people nearby who are not of their same ilk.

The city can't go into court and say that, because one of the allowable uses of government eminent domain under the law is not taking property away from little guys to give it to big guys. So instead in today's Morning News story, Jordan tells Parks, "We want to control that land to preserve it and protect it from illegal activity and to provide public open space."

Illegal activities? Is that the UCFTBS code term for non-rich persons of Latino descent supporting a viable commercial enterprise owned by one of their own by going there on weekends and evenings to play soccer with their families?

There's your dots. There's your connection. Glad to be of service.


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18 comments
RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Nice story Schutze.  Well done indeed.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Dear Lord in Heaven.  "To bring business to the poor parts of Dallas, we had to destroy business in the poor parts of Dallas."

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The City doesn't want to pay "holdout value" to the owner.  So they condemn it and pay "just compensation" based upon an appraisal. Cheaper and a lot quicker. And to get around the new state law spawned by the SCOTUS decision (Kelo v City of New London) to stop precisely what the City is doing, the City is going to "take" the land (under condemnation) then lease it to the operators of the horse and golf development.  

See, that way they can't be accused of taking the private property of one person and conveying it to another private person on the basis the new business would generate more tax revenues - which is what Kelo v City of New London was all about.

But a lease is a conveyance (use and occupancy) of a portion of the Bundle of Rights of Ownership just like a deed transfer.  

The City needs to be spanked (once again) for pulling a stunt like this.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

once again,  'the shitty that works'...  but fr whom.

Peterson
Peterson

"because one of the allowable uses of government eminent domain under the law is not taking property away from little guys to give it to big guys. "

In theory, that's right. In practice, there is a basketball arena in Brooklyn that tore apart a nice neighborhood of little guys so that some very rich guys could get a bit richer. One of them isn't even an American Citizen, if that matters to you.  That's just a single example, but one is certainly too many. County needs to build a road, a bridge, a dam, I get it. That's a public purpose. Horses and golf tournaments and stadjums, are not. If that is enough of a consideration, any man who owns property wanted by a wealthier man has lost the most important of his property rights.


Edward
Edward

How is "We want to control that land to preserve it and protect it from illegal activity and to provide public open space." even a legal reason for eminent domain?

Using that logic, the city could just take anyone's home and land, in order to "protect it from illegal activity" of some unknown identity.

The only illegal activity seems to be what the city of Dallas is doing.

Tom434
Tom434

As was discussed when this story first broke the land the city has for the golf course is not big enough so somebody's land is going to get taken.  After all how can you have the second coming of Augusta National if you only have 15 holes

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Move along folks, nothing to see here ...


Just be patient, in five or six years we will find out about a letter from  the City Manger's Office that discusses the reasons for the condemnation ....

BenS.
BenS.

The last set of Brown Reynolds Watford plans I saw had SMU's collegiate horse park facility marked for Mr Solano's property. Those were newly revised renderings dated February 11th I believe. The design footprint has changed at least twice or maybe three times since Christmas. It could have changed again within the last week.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

I read in the DMN that the city plans to build a white water facility-awesome, because the other one worked out so well? 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@roo_ster 

we had to burn the village to save the village . . .

James080
James080 topcommenter

@Tom434  

Only 15 holes......lots of record low scores......win-win...

WylieH
WylieH

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul And, if anyone dares question the reasoning in an open forum, it will be suggested that such a person is evil and should be hung from the gallows.

bifftannen
bifftannen

@kergo1spaceship I didn't know the city was such a fan of water sports. Must be a veritable fountain of piss drinkers down there.

1dailyreader
1dailyreader

@holmantx@roo_ster "we had to burn the village to save the village . ." because yours didn't meet our standards.

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