“The suspect was captured alive, but the home was utterly destroyed, eventually condemned by the City of Greenwood Village.
That left Leo Lech’s son, John Lech — who lived there with his girlfriend and her 9-year-old son — without a home. The city refused to compensate the Lech family for their losses but offered $5,000 in temporary rental assistance and for the insurance deductible.
Now, after the Leches sued, a federal appeals court has decided what else the city owes the Lech family for destroying their house more than four years ago: nothing.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit unanimously ruled that the city is not required to compensate the Lech family for their lost home because it was destroyed by police while they were trying to enforce the law, rather than taken by eminent domain.”
In the United States, the police can do anything they want and are not responsible for their actions. They can kill people, they can take your possessions, or they can destroy your property without consequence. The situation described in this article is a classic example. The police completely destroyed a family’s home through no fault of the family and yet the “justice” system has proclaimed that the police who destroyed the home are in no way responsible for their actions. This is sickening. Fuck the people who enable this behavior.
“Protect and serve”??? Yeah, that’s a fucking lie.
By John Lisovsky
One is an instance. Two may be a coincidence. Three annual fire seasons? In a row?
Climate change has given us this grim new time of year, and its rhythm warns us that it will not operate on a leisurely schedule. George Carlin quipped that it’s called the American Dream because you’ve got to be asleep to believe it. The smoke that approaches for a third straight year should wake us all from the California Dream of urban homesteads, endless tracts of single-family homes, and the urban/rural interface.
We paved over paradise, perched endless dwellings on hills and intermingled with forestry. We demanded power grids serve not a network of dense, well-contained cities, but sprawling suburbs flowing one into another. As our commutes into town warmed our climate one tank of gasoline at a time, the tinder got hotter and drier. When people live around things that easily catch fire, they will cause more fires. When we allow housing to be built where we know there’s an extreme fire risk — and draw people there with apartment bans in job centers — we do not merely stand by as tragedies like Paradise unfold. We are complicit.
West Los Angeles, where I grew up, is complicit. San Francisco, which bans apartments in over two-thirds of its residential land, is complicit. Palo Alto and Beverly Hills are complicit. People who complain about blocked views, shadows, traffic, noise, neighborhood character — those who worry about poor people moving in — are complicit. People who deny the past hundred years of empirical data about supply and demand, who have turned “developer” into a four-letter word, are complicit. Every community which said no to new housing because “we’re full,” because apartments would “destroy our charm,” has pushed people out into areas far from urban centers and closer to the wilderness, where fires are more easily ignited and less easily extinguished.
Our land-use patterns of the past 75 years, where the car is king and the carbon above our heads is not discussed, are a drunken bender in our civilizational life. We stand in 2019 at an inflection point. Suburban and exurban sprawl, particularly the intermingling with the wild frontier up and down California’s many mountains and hills, endanger actual human beings today. They also entrench fossil fuel emissions, which worsen tomorrow’s fires, floods, and sea level rise — for California, yes, but for regions the world over which share and exceed the risk we see here.
The ocean threatens the beach towns; the wildfires threaten the hills. There is only one direction to go, and it is up. Dense, infill development within cities puts people where they can be defended by municipal fire departments and where buses, bicycles and walking can replace cars and carbon emissions.
Earlier this year, state Sen. Scott Wiener’s clarion reimagining of what California should look like, and how it can embody the sustainable values it espouses, was stalled in committee. The year’s delay was petty, selfish and small-minded, but the More Homes Act will return in January. Our climate emergency has been underlined thrice by as many seasons of air so bad that children are taught the macabre California version of a snow day — the smoke day. Nostalgia of white picket fences and craftsman homes can only blow proverbial smoke in our faces for so long before the real thing shakes us out of imagination and into deathly reality.
We do not have another legislative session to waste in public comment about whether four-story apartment buildings next to subway and commuter rail stations constitute “Manhattanization.” We do not have another two years to waste wondering whether the only possible solution to our climate/wildfire emergency imposes too much on wealthy communities that have made a cottage industry of finding reasons to kill apartments. We do not have another election cycle to waste watching the mayor of Cupertino promise to build a wall around his city and have San Jose pay for it, or to watch the man’s constituents decry thousands of new units in Silicon Valley because they might bring “uneducated” people to town.
California is burning. Climate refugees will not come only from third-world countries; they were made last year in Paradise and will be made right here again — by us and our decisions about where to build housing. Infill development is no longer an aesthetic preference or a lifestyle choice. It’s no longer about being near amenities. It’s a question of which communities are safe from fire risk, and which go to bed wondering whether a mandatory evacuation order might come before morning. It’s a question, equally, of which communities reach net zero emissions, and which guzzle gas and cook our planet.
Building more housing is the moral question, and the moral imperative, of our time. We need more homes.