The State Can Take Your Dreams, Too
by Timothy Sandefur
Debra J. Saunders, an excellent writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, had this article in the Sunday paper focusing on the Revelli Tire Store case from Oakland. Excerpt:
[Oakland City Attorney John Russo] bristles at the notion that Oakland kicked Revelli out of his property. "I believe that the Revelli case, for him, was a case of stubbornness and sentiment," Russo told me, adding that the city paid above appraisal for the property.
Russo is right, Revelli is sentimental. Revelli — who now calls himself "forcibly retired" — asked Oakland to put off the seizure. Instead, the city took the land — then left his property unchanged for many months, during which Revelli could have been in business. His father started Revelli Tires in 1949. Revelli owned the property, with a prime location a block from BART, free and clear. "I created a situation where I could compete with everyone else in the tire business," he explained, "because I worked by myself. I had no employees. Nobody treats the business like the owner treats the business."
Revelli's retirement plan had been to sell his business and lease the property — if, that is, he felt the urge to retire. Instead he has $615,000 — minus legal fees and a whopping capital-gains tax bill. Even if $615,000 is above appraisal, the deal shortchanged his future.
Of course, given that the Revelli seizure was done under the watch of Oakland mayor Jerry Brown, who is now the state's Attorney General–do you suppose we'll see any eminent domain reform in this state any time soon?