Monday, March 30, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Why does government own so much land?

By
From page A9 | June 22, 2014 |

April’s standoff in southern Nevada over the Clive Bundy grazing controversy triggered much chatter about property rights. Many cheered a bold, courageous longtime rancher standing up to “the man,” whereas others saw a public moocher who hasn’t paid his obligations.

Lost in all the controversy was any reasoning of why the federal government is the landlord of scrub brush in the first place.
The Internet was jammed with amazing facts and controversial images surrounding the standoff. One intriguing infographic that resurfaced as a result is titled “Who owns the West?” and displays the percentage of each state’s acreage owned by the federal government (based on 2004 U.S. General Services Administration data). Twelve states west of the Rockies  (including Alaska) had double-digit percentages. Nevada leads the pack with 84.5 percent of the acreage in the state owned by the federal government.
California has a remarkable 45 percent of its acreage owned by the feds.

There may be some valid purposes for federal ownership: National parks, highway rights of way, federal prisons and of course, military bases. However, anyone driving through Nevada can tell that most of Nevada has none of the above. Why does the federal government need to own all of that land? Can we really believe that government will manage the land better than a private entity?

These questions should be directed at our state and local governments as well. The Los Angeles coliseum is co-owned by state, Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles. It is an aging facility and undoubtedly consumes many resources in its upkeep. Is there a vital purpose to the functioning of government that requires public dollars maintain this facility? Or should it be sold to a private organization, freeing up public dollars for more pressing projects?

Traveling around in our county, one notices that our local communities are pock-marked with empty lots and underutilized properties. With the real estate boom 10 years ago (and the current “recovery”), I am always surprised to see empty lots smack dab in the middle of an established neighborhood or business district.

Unfortunately, many of these properties are scar tissue from floundered redevelopment projects. Many parcels were acquired with good intentions or pipe dreams in mind, only to remain fallow to this day. Redevelopment may have been abruptly unplugged, but that does not excuse the poor business justification of so many of their acquisitions.

For example, we used to have a bowling alley and a truck stop. As ratty as they may have been, they provided some value to the community, and created some revenue to local governments. Now, due to questionable government initiatives, we have two scruffy, barren lots that provide no value to our community; yet we have to pay for the upkeep. Those who question how much liability an unkempt public property can expose our community to need only look at the opening volley of lawsuits stemming from last year’s Marigold Fire.

When property is in private hands, it is an asset to the community; not only does it provide value to the community via market forces (it can provide goods – including housing – and services demanded by the community) but also provides revenue to local governments in the form of property and sales taxes. When private property is claimed for public use or benefit, an asset that provided resources to the public is instantaneously converted to a public liability that consumes resources in the acquisition, debt servicing, liability and compliance aspects of these properties.

In an era of limited private investment and high government debt, why isn’t there more of a push to privatize some of this land?

Brian Thiemer is chairman of the Solano County Libertarian Party. He can be reached at [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • FDCJune 22, 2014 - 7:40 am

    When Texas joined the Union it was done by treaty between two sovereign nations. As part of the treaty, Texas very wisely retained title to all its public lands. As a result the Feds now own only four percent (4%) of Texas land while the Feds own most of open land in most of the Western states. Just another reason that Texas thrives while California doesn't.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithJune 22, 2014 - 8:04 am

    The feds are eyeing about 90,000 acres of Texas land up on the Texas-Oklahoma border. Looks like they want to increase that 4% figure. Public access to millions of acres in the western US is being rapidly taken away by this administration's policies. If Mr. Thiemer is correct in his analysis of the economic effect of government property acquisition, that can't be good for the country. No surprises there, however.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacJune 22, 2014 - 7:43 am

    Lots of public land getting mined, drilled and fracked. Some PA state forests getting fracked and poisoned. Because corporations are about profit and not for future Americans.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

2 drivers killed in same area, an hour apart

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 11 Comments

 
Easter activities, events abundant

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Christians begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday celebrations

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
My guide to dining out

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 5 Comments

Local governments post week’s meeting times

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Top young spellers to compete for Solano title

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

Police investigate shooting off North Texas Street

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 8 Comments | Gallery

 
Vallejo police seek leads in weekend homicide

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Biz Buzz: Wiseman officer names Perez to key post

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A10

 
Biz Buzz: Re/Max hires new Realtor

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Biz Buzz: PAL receives donation from glass company

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

 
Analysis finds unequal pay for women on California Capitol

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Songwriter injured in California crash; motorcyclist killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Taylor Swift wins artist of the year at iHeartRadio Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Court ruling opens door for federal execution of murderer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
 
Police: 2 bodies found in NYC building explosion rubble

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Waving fronds around the world, Christians mark Palm Sunday

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Air Canada plane makes hard landing short of Halifax runway

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Small tsunami generated in Pacific after earthquake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

.

Living

Community Calendar: March 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: March 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 30, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
Parenting: If a father is abusive, a mother must act

By The Washington Post | From Page: B8

 
Horoscopes: March 31, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

TVGrid March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Michelle Obama declares ‘Black Girls Rock!’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

 
.

Sports

 
Spartans Final Four-bound after 76-70 OT win over Louisville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Duke back in Final Four after 66-52 win over Gonzaga

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Apology for wrong anthem for El Salvador before game in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Montoya holds off Power to give Penske 1-2 sweep at St. Pete

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Stanford’s Randle chases school scoring record, title at NIT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hamlin wins for 25th time, and fifth time at Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hamlin wins for 25th time, and fifth time at Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimmy Walker wins hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Oakland OF Josh Reddick won’t be ready for start of season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

California Chrome heads to Britain, to race at Royal Ascot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vettel wins Malaysian GP to end Mercedes streak

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Joe Gibbs on son: most courageous person I’ve been around

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Chodounsky defends slalom title at US Alpine Championships

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

South Carolina earns 1st Final Four berth, beats FSU 80-74

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Turner says Saturday regional finals highest-rated in decade

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Graveman pitches into 7th inning as A’s beat Brewers 7-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Cain goes 4 innings in Giants win over LA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Robert Roberts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janice Jewel Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

B.C. March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Wizard of Id March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Get Fuzzy March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

For Better or Worse March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baby Blues March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Baby Blues March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Frank and Ernest March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

B.C. March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Peanuts March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baldo March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Rose is Rose March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Beetle Bailey March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

For Better or Worse March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Garfield March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Pickles March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Zits March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sally Forth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Get Fuzzy March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Word Sleuth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Bridge March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Sudoku March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Cryptoquote March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8