If you live in New Albany, you’re advised to pay close attention to the ongoing saga of Pleasant Ridge, a neighborhood in Charlestown, which has been covered in some depth by both the News and Tribune (links below) and the Courier-Journal. On February 11, the story reached the New York Times.
Many of these same themes are playing out right here as Jeff Gahan seeks to remove affordable public housing — and many of you are looking the other way, quietly pleased that someone finally is “cleaning up The Project” without stopping to consider the nature of the tactics, and without realizing that these tactics, once deemed acceptable, needn’t stop with public housing residents who are in the way of big money.
Gahan considers himself a model Democrat (Clintonian sub-species), while Charlestown’s mayor Bob Hall at least dispenses with Gahan’s hypocrisy by embracing his inner Republican. Apart for disdain for the poor, apparently they have one other signal trait in common.
“Mr. Hall did not respond to requests for an interview.”
Familiar, isn’t it?
The NYT article is broken into three “teaser” sections.
Where a City Sees Decay, Neighbors Fight to Save a Community, by Monica Davey (New York Times)
On Friday, residents who hope to save Pleasant Ridge filed a request for a preliminary injunction in state court, aided by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm that sees what is happening here as a troubling new way for a city, in essence, to clear land.
“What’s very unusual about this is using code enforcement to circumvent eminent domain law,” said Jeff Rowes, a lawyer in the case, which asks a judge to stop the city. “And we’re worried about this becoming a model — the model for how to replace housing for people of modest means in states everywhere that have passed limits on the powers of eminent domain.”
Michael Gillenwater, the city attorney, says what is happening in Pleasant Ridge, where a private developer has begun accumulating lots, is all about safety, not wealth … “We’re not going to ever make a dime on this,” Mr. Gillenwater said. “It’s a matter of helping out the city and the people in the long run. All we’re doing is trying to have safe housing.”
“This is not about rich and poor,” Mr. Gillenwater continued. “When you’ve got the crime, the drugs, animals running about, this is about life and death.”
“There’s no question that there are problems,” said Josh Craven, who lives here and is president of a homeowners association that has grown out of this fight. “But the city let this happen over all these years. They allowed the slumlords to come in, to not live up to the property maintenance code. They’ve let this go on so long that you can’t come in now and say, ‘Oh, you have to repair everything now or we’re going to fine you thousands of dollars every day so that you just have to sell to get out from under the debt.’”
Pleasant Ridge residents pursue court action to stop building code fines from the city of Charlestown, by Danielle Grady (News and Tribune)
Neighborhood Association filed lawsuit in January
Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association sues city of Charlestown over building fines, by Elizabeth Beilman (News and Tribune)
Lawsuit claims several Constitutional rights violated