Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Federal Immunity

The Instapundit credits the Army of Davids phenomenon with this story from China:
China has ordered the armed forces to get permission from local government, and abide by environmental rules, when building new facilities, and holding training exercises. This is a major change, for in the past, the armed forces could do whatever it wanted, with no interference from local government authorities. The only one who had any control over these matters was the national government
The same is true in the USA, actually, as this story shows:
How could a 10,000 square feet complex disappear practically overnight, without municipal authorities, neighborhood organizations, conservancy groups, and local legislators knowing anything about it? No structure in the city can be demolished without a permit from the Department of Building and Safety, but an initial search by an official turned up no such permit. However, a second search by Bob Steinbach, the department’s spokesman, came up with a surprising find. The site had been leased by the United States government, he said, to construct a new Social Security office building.
A federal project is exempt from local regulations, and requires no demolition permit or notification to affected neighbors. Doctor and Green said that prior to razing the old building, they checked with the appropriate city departments and the district’s then councilman (and now mayor) Antonio Villaraigosa, and were told that no demolition permit or notification to neighbors were necessary.
Now I'm not sure whether this exemption is a good thing or a bad one. Taking into account the notorious difficulty of getting any construction done in California, I don't blame the feds for exempting themselves from local regulation. But the contrast is interesting.


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