Nothing sounds more democratic than local citizens having control over their own land, but is that all there is to it? Real estate rights are not absolute, but vary according to custom and need. When you buy a house, you do not necessarily get a bundle of rights to drill for oil or mine for gold-they are often separate from the use of the land surface. Cities traditionally have many and far reaching rights over the land held for their citizens. One major exception is transportation facilities: rail roads, highways, ports and airports.
Transportation is a matter of interstate commerce and so the Federal Government preempts many aspects of local control of land to insure that planes, boats, cars, trucks, and trains can carry America's goods and conduct America's business unimpeded by local agenda.
Our own municipal airport is a perfect example. The city government is allowed to run the airport and reap the profits, but under the terms of federal law it may not close the airport, abuse its tenants, and/or re-purpose the land. This is not unusual: the city cannot open or close freeway ramps or paint the guardrails rainbow colors. They cannot re-route or obstruct railways. They can benefit from the commerce these things bring, but they cannot exert ultimate conrol over the land or water they traverse.
When our city government–the Mayor and Council, the City Manager and his new sidekick Mr. Hernandez assert that they are only looking after the welfare of the citizens by trying to get "local" control of their own land they are conveniently ignoring these hard facts. "Local control of our land" is code (George Orwell called it newspeak, a tactic to narrow the scope of thought) for "close the airport and develop the land." That is the real intent and the impetus behind all the rhetoric and why they gamble away so many millions of taxpayer dollars in state and federal courts trying to get the right to close the airport.
If you feel that development, costs, and congestion are out of control now, imagine what replacing hundreds of acres of low impact–high revenue airport land that is all but dormant during the night-time hours, with high density, high infrastructure, and intensive use (24/7) development would be like. But wait, it's going to be a giant park right? Really? The Joe Hill song said it lifetimes ago: "You'll get pie in sky when you die........IT'S A LIE!"
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