The Flywheel

Next Meeting: October 7th

Creative Aging

Is 70 the new 60? We are living longer and better than any previous generation. Dr. Sydney Metrick explains why the belief that as we age our ability to engage in life diminishes is a myth.

Sydney will discuss how "creative aging" can offer us healthy, fulfilling lives for many years of what has been historically called ‘old age’

Meeting of Friday, September 30tH

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez EJ Shalaby called the meeting to order with a ding of the bell. Red Badge Rookie Michelle Itigaki
 lead the club in the pledge of allegiance. Herb Cole led the club in a moment of silence for Peace and Justice in the world.

Visiting Rotarians

  • Jim Young introduced his guest and lovely wife Linda who was there to help celebrate this special day.
  • Edgar Deleon introduced Latoya Williams Principal of Gompers Continuation HS and his colleague Steven Lemler from CBeyond

Sunshine Report

Herb Cole said that he understood that John Nicol, was going into work half days but was too tired for visits after work.  EJ encouraged members to give John a phone call.

Announcements

  • Alan Baer announced that fliers and tickets for the 23rd Street Merchants/Rotary Halloween Party at the old Gonzalez Restaurant are now available at $20/person. (The fliers are free.)
  • EJ reminded the members that the Holiday Dinner & Dance at MVCC is around the corner on Dec. 2nd at MVCC. Mark your calendars but also think about that great stuff you are going to donate for the Holiday Auction.

Recognitions

  • EJ called on Jim Young to recognize himself which he unceremoniously did by proposing a toast, “…to me…”, having thoughtfully providing the assemblage with a glass of wine, so everyone could enjoy this first day of his retirement from Wells Fargo Bank and banking!

Happy and Sad Dollars

Doing it all Prez EJ launched Happy and Sad $$ and recognized

  • David ‘A’ Brown (not to be confused with any of the many other David Browns) said something in Hebrew explaining it as Happy Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), the year being 5772 (but who’s counting?)
  • Don ‘The Menehune’ Lau was Happy the ‘New’ Maritime Center at Nystrom Elementary School had opened and is “great”. Don went on to say it is part of the good work of restoration done by Tom Butt who Don credited for the project’s happening.
  • Sid Chauvin  who was Happy to contribute $55 to the club for the privilege of reading a very long but clever poem about high school reunions after 50.

Norm's Nonsense

This guy came into work one day with a fistful of cigars and started passing them out left and right to celebrate the birth of his son.
"Congratulations, Eric," said his boss. "How much did the baby weigh?"
"Four and a half pounds," reported the father proudly.
"Gee, that's kind of small."
"What did you expect?" retorted Eric indignantly. "We've only been married three months."

PROGRAM

Property Rights, Law & the Federal Constitution

Jim Young introduced, for Round Two of Eminent Domain our continuing speakers, Heidi Timken Esq. and Leslie Johnson Esq. of Timken Johnson Hwang (TJH) of Walnut Creek.

In our last episode, our heroines had just righteously condemned the City of New London Conn. for taking Mrs. Kelo’s ‘Little Pink House’ and then after demolishing it letting the land lay fallow because they were not sharp enough to lock the proposed developer, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals into a development deal and Pfizer walked, creating a publicly mandated lose/lose situation for everyone save Pfizer.   Rotarians wanted to know more about Regulatory Taking and our heroines assured the members they would indeed know more about this fog shrouded subject.

Heidi began the Regulatory Taking explanation noting that the concept is based on the taking of economic value/utility, usually through a change in zoning, without the actual condemnation or transfer of ownership  of the property from the property owner to the government. From a lawyering point of view it has more to do with Due Process under the 14th Amendment than Just Compensation under the 5th Amendment. Noting that in the rarified atmosphere of eminent domain law, Regulatory Taking was particularly obscure as each case is truly unique and has to be decided on its unique issues. There is however a benchmark case that is used, Penn Central Railroad vs the City of New York. In this landmark case Penn Central wanted to tear down Pen Central Station and build a skyscraper on the site. 

The City denied the request because of the historical designation of the station and Penn Central accused the City of a ‘compensable taking’ of its air rights and demanded compensation. Long story short, the court ruled in favor of the City because Penn Central retained full use of acres and acres of adjacent land for which the alleged right to develop could be transferred and used. Thus, Pen Central Station remains a landmark in Manhattan for everyone to use and  enjoy and there are a bunch of high rise buildings immediately adjacent to it that made Penn Central a lot of money.  Leslie went on to say that part of the justification in this Regulatory Takings case had to do with the ‘bundle of sticks’ concept discussed in the last program. Here Penn Central lost its ‘air rights stick’ but retained a lot of other ownership sticks and may have had the air right sticks transferred to its adjacent real estate. Leslie went on to say that this benchmark case helps identify issues, but “How many properties are like Penn Central Station in Manhattan?” In a Regulatory Taking case, all the issues have to viewed in their own unique relationship and context. Consequently these kinds of cases are impossible to predict in advance. Heidi observed that even with the same issues, it would be impossible to predict how the Penn Central case would be decided if it was tried today

In a brief visit back to Mrs. Kelo and the little pink house, Leslie noted that in the political lexicon, conservative decisions are those that generally favor the property owner and liberal decisions are those that favor the rights of the government. This was the case in Kelo where Supreme Court Justice Stevens wrote the opinion for the Court in its 5-4 decision against Kelo.

Timken  then described the standard to which government is held when it pursues eminent domain, i.e. “a sober inquiry” instructing it’s appraisers to determine the highest possible value that can realistically be placed on property. Heidi said this does create a ‘battle of the appraiser’ and unfortunately it is not the only standard that is used in determining value. The decline in real estate values since 2008 has created an additional factor of unpredictability as both market values and future development values are all down but by unpredictable amounts.

Timken and Johnson continued the program with more real stories from the eminent domain wars including one in which CalTrans ‘dumped’ a significant percentage of the drainage of the San Gabriel Mountains on to private property based on an 80 year old badly written easement. Enough water to completely fill a 20’ culvert, causing a knowledgeable member of the club to ask, “How did that get past CEQA (Calif. Environmental Quality Act)? TJ answer, “Somebody screwed up!”

But this again shows if you want to find out about the good stuff, you gotta be at the meeting as the Flywheel ends here.

Thank you Leslie Johnson and Heidi Timken for educating, entertaining and terrifying us with Stories of Eminent Domain.

-Rotating Editor, Jim Young