BARBWIRE BY ANDREW BARBANO
SPECIAL WEB EDITION
How green was my valley
Nevada's two largest newspapers have weighed in editorially on Senate Bill 326,
Las Vegas Democratic State Sen. Terry Care's admitted attempt to kill the preservation
of the pristine Ballardini Ranch in southwest Reno.
Both papers have not only missed the danger to public safety posed by the bill,
they have also ignored the U.S. Constitution. Sen. Care's proposal would bar state
and local governments from acquiring land for flood control and historic preservation
as defined in Nevada Revised Statutes 376A.010.
There is no area of Nevada immune to flood danger. Barring governments from condemning
land for flood control is bad public policy and a danger to the public.
Condemnation has historically been rarely used in the Silver State. In the late
1960's, Washoe County exercised its right to acquire a small piece of land which
allowed the construction of the Slide Mountain ski area, now a major asset to
Carson City is just now considering what local leaders say would be the first
condemnation in the city's history, acquisition of a vacant Wal-Mart location
which owner Max Baer, Jr., has failed to develop into his peripatetic Jethro Bodine's
Beverly Hillbillies casino.
In recent years, the right of condemnation has been increasingly abused by municipalities
across the nation. Las Vegas provides an egregious example. The city council acquired
some longtime downtown storefronts then turned the land over to private interests
to build a parking garage. Southern Nevada residents are rightly angry over the
entire Fremont Street fiasco.
The Ballardini Ranch is no such abuse. The Washoe County Commission has followed
the expressed will of the voters who approved a bond issue to begin acquisition
of the resource in 2000. Developers take risks when they acquire property. Sometimes,
communities don't subscribe to the Yankee mentality as reflected in last Friday's
Las Vegas Review-Journal.
On April 8, the Social Darwinists at Nevada's largest newspaper termed the attempt
to save the last substantial piece of open space in the Truckee Meadows a move
by "green extremists." This twisted Libertarianism better fits the stereotype
of Yankee New England: you should be able to do any darn fool thing you want with
your own property.
By that standard, there will soon be a Starbucks on every streetcorn
a good example.
The "green extremist" potshot perfectly typifies the anything-goes-if-there's-a-buck-in-it
mentality which has turned the Las Vegas Valley into Fresno with casinos. I grew
up in Fresno before it became the most polluted city in the country, when you
could still stand in one spot and see the coast range to the west and the Sierra
to the east. I lived in Las Vegas when, on a clear day, you could see Howard Hughes.
Today, the Clark County metro area usually scores at well below half the national
average for parks and open space.
The Reno Gazette-Journal's April 10 editorial called on the legislature to come
up with a "fair and balanced" solution to eminent domain issues. Other
than the self-satire of appropriating the tipsy Fox News slogan, the Reno paper
fell wider of the mark than the establishmentarian rebels of Gomorrah South. Reno
readers were left with the impression that some compromise is necessary to balance
SB 326 should be killed outright before it destroys a precious natural resource.
Both the Reno and LV papers place private property rights on a vestal pedestal.
Both failed to mention that the right of eminent domain is written into the Fifth
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Section one of SB 326 is an attempt to kill open space acquisition anywhere in
Nevada. Period. Section two is a sop to those still ticked off by the Fremont
Street Experience condemnation from several years back. The proper remedy to heal
that old wound lies with Assembly Bill 143, sponsored by Sen. Care, Assemblyman
William Horne, D-Las Vegas, and a bi-partisan majority of both houses. It's currently
stuck in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
The Ballardini Ranch can be devoted to a rich range of uses in addition to critical
wildlife habitat (given its border with the Toiyabe National Forest). It can accommodate
hiking, picnicking, skiing, camping, education, public and private events. Reno's
Bartley Ranch and Rancho San Rafael parks provide smaller examples of the potential.
The Nevada State Senate Judiciary Committee should get out the holy water and
give SB 326 a decent drowning before the floods come. The Assembly Judiciary Committee
should move AB 143 this week to help prevent future abuses such as the downtown
Las Vegas parking garage affair.
Let them know. Info below.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan. The above special edition has been posted
with hot links at the 2005 Barbwire archive at http://www.barbwire.info. The opinions
expressed herein are his own. Responses to the issues raised are welcome and may
be posted. Any respondents who wish comments kept confidential need only ask.
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#Reno Gazette-Journal editorial
Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial
CONTACT THE NEVADA STATE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY TO VOTE DOWN SEN. CARE'S
Mark Amodei, Chair, Carson City
Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, Vice-Chair
Mike McGinness, R-Fallon
Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas
Terry Care, D-Las Vegas
Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas
Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas
To e-mail the entire committee at once, highlight, copy and paste the following
addresses into your e-mail send box. Remember to retain the commas.
Assembly Judiciary Committee:
Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, Chair
General Legislative Phone Numbers
Northern Nevada 1-775-684-6789
Southern Nevada 1-702-486-2626
Public Toll Free 1-800-978-2878 OR 1-800-995-9080
Northern Nevada 1-775-684-6800
Southern Nevada 1-702-486-2626
Statewide Toll-Free 1-800-992-0973 or 1-800-995-9080
Nevada Senate 1-775-684-6500
Nevada Assembly 1-775-684-8533
401 S. Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701-4747
555 E. Washington Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89101