Fairness in downtown

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Carson City supervisors badly need the ability to spur redevelopment downtown, without trampling on the rights of property owners.

It's a matter of fairness, in our view, and that's why we support efforts of the Redevelopment Authority to craft rules giving it the power to condemn property.

In a perfect downtown, the city provides some incentives and some necessary public amenities -- like parking, and landscaping -- to help encourage businesses to locate there. As stores and restaurants move in to fill the vacancies, they help draw traffic for the other stores. Business improves, property values rise and tax revenues increase -- all helping to keep the ball rolling.

So far, that's largely been the case with Carson City. It's a long, slow process. Downtown didn't fade overnight, and it's not going to bloom overnight either.

As downtown improves, from the investment of tax dollars and from businesses, some property owners think they can go along for a free ride. They wait and wait -- their properties sitting vacant and unkempt -- to see just how much the property might fetch.

At some point, their unwillingness to get in the game proves to be detrimental to other property owners, who may be eager to sink dollars into a major renovation -- except for the fact their neighbor is an empty eyesore and has been for decades.

To be fair to the property owners, though, the supervisors needed to make sure there was adequate notice and specific criteria before they went shopping for a proposal from somebody else to develop the property.

The new rules, voted on Thursday, take care of those details.

Supervisors should not be wielding the power of condemnation arbitrarily or frequently; nevertheless, it's important they have such authority.


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