A story I just read is similar to the one I posted about recently involving land in Tempe, in that this story, like the Tempe case, involves an individual claiming that he was the true owner of a parcel of land because his ancestors had occupied it. This guy, unlike the guy in Tempe, at least apparently had some ancient documents that he thought backed up his claim, although it sounds like they really didn’t. The difference here is that this guy wasn’t the occupant of the property. He essentially showed up out of nowhere and claimed that the land in question was his, a claim which was disputed by the occupants. So in this case the claimant was not the occupant, but was claiming title based on documents, whereas in the Tempe case the claimant was the occupant, but had no documents.
The claimant in this case lost just like the claimant in the Tempe case, based on the same legal principle: adverse possession. The occupants in this case were able to successfully defeat the competing claim to the property by asserting adverse possession. In the Tempe case, the claimant’s attempt to assert ownership of the property under the doctrine of adverse possession was unsuccessful because the owner was the state. If title to that property had been held by a private owner, the claim of adverse possession probably would have worked.
Today there is yet another installment in the story about the individual who claims he is the rightful owner of a piece of land by the Salt River in Tempe. He claims that his family has occupied the land since territorial days. I have no idea if that claim is true or not. I will, however, take as true this statement in the story that appeared on azcentral.com today: the individual making the claim “could provide no records of ownership.” I’m also going to assume the truth of this statement in that story: the land was “given by the federal government to the territory of Arizona in 1863, ordered to be held in trust and auctioned off to provide money for public education.” In other words, it is state trust land. Finally, I’m going to take as a fact the statement that the city of Tempe bought half of the property in what sounds like it was a 3-way deal among the state, the city, and the railroad.
Without knowing anything else about it, I think I can pretty confidently say that with those facts, the case is over, and the individual loses. Why? Because (1) he can’t prove that he ever had title, and (2) the doctrine of adverse possession doesn’t operate against the state or a city (which is a political subdivision of the state).
The newspaper reporter tries to paint a sympathetic portrait of the individual who is claiming the land. For all I know, maybe the individual deserves sympathy. Legally, however, I’m pretty sure that he is wrong, and the courts have reached the correct result.
If you’re interested (which might require that you be a student of real estate law, as I am), you can read more about the subject of adverse possession in two newsletters in my archive, one from April, 2003, and the other from July, 2005.
This comment by Coyote could apply in lots of situations, but it made me think specifically of the bond issue that was required to fix Tucson’s streets when their condition got too bad to ignore any longer:
Deferred maintenance is the way that agency's [sic] can borrow without transparency and without any outside authorization to do things like maintain staff in the face of cutbacks. In effect, the agency is borrowing against the infrastructure the public has built to help fund staffing levels and benefits. What is deferred maintenance? It is all kind of things. It is having one out of three toilets in a bathroom break and just roping it off rather than fixing it. It is allowing potholes to multiply in the road without repair. It is constantly chasing more and more leaks in an underground water line and not just replacing it. It is an acknowledgement that all manmade things have a fixed life. Take picnic tables. Let's say a type of picnic table in a campground, of which there might be hundreds, lasts about 10 years. That means a responsible person should budget to replace 10% every year. But what if we skip a year? No one will probably notice if some old tables slide from 10 to 11 years old, and we save some money. But really we are only borrowing that money, because we will need to do twice as many next year. But then we do it again the next year, to borrow more, and the bill just increases for the future. Before you know it, the NPS has $12 billion in deferred maintenance, a $12 billion debt for which there is little transparency and no legislative approval -- and the interest on which all of us in the public pay when we have to live with these deteriorating public facilities.
I don’t remember who it was, but a commentator who writes about First Amendment cases, noting the frequency with which government agencies (whether well-intentioned or not) attempt to restrict free speech, said something like: what part of “make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” don’t they (those attempting to restrict free speech) understand?
I have said it before: the government cannot restrict speech based on its content. That means if a t-shirt maker doesn’t want to make a t-shirt with your slogan on it, the government can’t force him to, or penalize him if he refuses, no matter what your slogan is.
It’s the Nazi parade scenario in reverse: no matter how beneficial you think your message is, the government can’t force the t-shirt maker to say it, and no matter how detrimental you think someone else’s message is, the government can’t force the t-shirt maker to not say it.
Apparently I’m not the only one who has noticed, and Tucson is not the only place, that Mattress Firm has far more stores than seems normal. How could they possibly have the sales volume to justify all that overhead? Maybe the markup on mattresses is high, but I doubt it’s that high.
Apparently, a “steady-state economy” is an “alternative” economic model that involves “degrowth” (link goes to a PDF file- the terminology to which I am referring is on page 5). Sounds fishy. I think I’ll pass.
Apparently some interest groups have seized on the prospect of autonomous vehicles taking over personal transportation to propose that, in the future, private cars should be banned from dense urban areas. The concept is that fleets of vehicles will be owned by transportation service providers, who will sell transportation to individuals. In other words, all vehicles will be (driverless) taxis, at least in urban areas.
The idea that it will make economic sense to hire a vehicle when you need one, rather than own one, is plausible. I know people who have lived that way in New York and San Francisco. Banning private vehicles from those cities, however, is a much bigger leap, and one that I don’t think will ever happen, no matter how much certain interest groups wish it could be so.
In a comment thread at the chicagoboyz blog, “veryretired” said:
The greatest, and most deadly, con job in our cultural history is the idea that the coercive political power of the state is a benevolent and compassionate factor in our society, but that the actions, and even ideas, of the private individual are dangerous and oppressive, and, while the former must be expanded and enhanced in any and all circumstances, the latter must be rigidly controlled and repressed.
I hesitate to post this because it will reveal that I occasionally waste time reading blog comments. This comment by “The Cracker Emcee Activist” (I have no idea what that means) was so insightful, however, that I think it’s worth sharing. The context was a discussion about how we react to opposition as we age. Here’s the comment (sorry about the profanity):
“If someone is above you authority-wise, you still take shit. But it's a lot lot harder not to be caught rolling your eyes when it happens.”
IF DRIVERLESS CARS CAN MOVE PEOPLE FROM POINT A TO POINT B, WHY CAN’T THEY ALSO BE USED TO DELIVER PACKAGES?
If the autonomous vehicle isn’t dependent on a human occupant, then why must there be a human occupant? If the human is just cargo, then why can’t the cargo be just a package, or a whole bunch of packages?
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.