Thursday, July 27, 2017
Ban Banning Bashing

Ban Banning Bashing

Volume 1503 Number 1

Take it away from them!

We noted scattered “feel good” signs entreating us to “Save Banning Ranch.” “Banning Ranch” is a plot of seacoast land that investors thought would be appealing to homeowners.

Some people believe the area should remain undeveloped for various reasons.  But the agitators don’t want to exert their effort or spend their time to preserve the area. They don’t want to crowdsource the funds, raise the money or even donate to buy the land from its owners.

Instead, they demand that our government exert its power to take ownership rights away from the owners for “the better good for all.” They want the “better good” that they envision to be decreed, so they will have to personally spend no money, sweat and tears.

The landowners invested money they could have used to fund vacations, buy vehicles, and enjoy electronic gadgets. They put their reputations on the line with their friends and fellow investors. They used money they that had earned with their sweat, courage, and skill, to take yet another risk by buying property no one had ever built houses on before.

The agitators are self-absorbed as well as misguided. They don’t want Banning Ranch “saved” they want it forcefully removed from the owners. They are not willing to use their own resources and energy to make the area an “unimproved spot of natural beauty” at all. They are demanding that government use its power to disenfranchise the landowners.

Now if they were willing to invest more of themselves than spending a few evenings quoting “cherry picked” statistics to each other at protest meetings we might be impressed; then we might donate, might try to help. They aren’t, though. (Of course, if the government they want to intervene were to declare that their own neighborhood would better serve the City and County as a sports complex  . . . well, property rights would become far more important to them. It just depends on whose ox is being gored.)

Could private individuals really do anything, or is a private citizen helpless against the transgressions of “developers?” There are lots of examples that shout YES!

Ducks Unlimited buys land that ducks like with members raising the money themselves to pay for it. Members spend countless hours setting up nest boxes, improving drainage and patrolling to protect the hens and their eggs. They invest a lot of sweat, tears, money – their own and what they can raise – as they build and protect. We’ve never seen a Ducks Unlimited meeting focused on how “they” are “doing it to us.” Instead, members roll up their sleeves, open their wallets and make the effort.

“Save Banning Ranch” must be a euphemism for “take the land away from other people who are more (financially) successful than we are.”

That’s too bad: their agitation/activism distracts attention and delays efforts to find viable – and just – solutions.


  1. Dennis,
    Econ 101 notwithstanding, we arrive at the price at which a commodity will be sold through a process called, in the Yankee/Scottish culture from which I originate, the “dicker”. If your Econ 101 did not cover this process, you should ask for your money back. Valid techniques for use in the dicker involve “kicking the tires”, or finding things wrong with the object of the bargain; denigrating the worth of the item, or its counterpart, gilding it, if you’re on the other side; being willing to walk away from the session; invoking “unseen higher powers”, a technique that all car salesmen use (“I have to run this by my manager” or “It’s against policy”); sometimes threats and intimidation (“A Smith & Wesson beats four aces”), though there are those who would question the legitimacy of this particular tactic; and many others. Paramount, though, in any dicker, is a certain amount of willingness on the part of the seller to sell, and on the part of the buyer, to buy. NBR and its partners in crime have never expressed such willingness; they have never named an asking price.

    Additionally, there are other considerations when a dicker involves more than a very few people, e.g., the communities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, and maybe a bit of Fountain Valley. These comprise close to half a million people, all of whom will be affected by the removal of fifty million cubic yards of polluted dirt to fulfill EIR conditions, increased traffic from 1375 new homes, all of which will pretty much cut through Costa Mesa, the blocking of homeowners’ views of nature by high-rise condos, and, let’s not forget, the utter destruction of habitat for various threatened and endangered species, one of which is the one to which you and I belong, Dennis, though your membership has been a little longer than mine. Then too, there is the damage to surrounding infrastructure — roads succumb to repeated insults from ten-yard dump trucks, houses to wafts of polluted dirt, water supplies to the stress of supplying new homes and a resort hotel — it’s just not a simple matter of developer opposing conservationist.

    And let’s not forget that both sides have a Department of Dirty Tricks — NBR has frequently made “Ignore that little man behind the curtain” assertions about their purity of spirit, motive, and method, at Coastal Commission hearings, while anyone with any gumption at all realizes that their only real motive is purely lucre. That’s why they have smooth talkers like Mike Mohler and bought and paid for “environmental consultants” and lots of lawyers; they have very deep pockets. The Banning Ranch Conservancy has to scrape and scrounge to hire barristers to counter filings by these folks that are, to say the least, disingenuous; BRC has no vested financial interest in preservation of the wildness of the site, just a longing to keep a little nature around in the face of Big Development. If it is preserved, none of us will make any money off the land.

    And as far as shaming my brain goes, I have no need to exalt its capacity. But I do resent, just a bit, the allegation that those were “attempted insults”; no, indeed, they were actual ones, not attempted. My philosophy is, like Red Skelton’s Junior, “I calls ’em the way I sees ’em.” If you haven’t sold your soul to the developers, perhaps you will cogitate on the above points and to some extent modify your own diatribe.

    And congratulations on having passed your 73rd. Mine is coming soon, old fellow.

    • Thanks Terry,

      I enjoy seeing your replies in the inbox; I know I’ll be in for interesting discourse.

      I’ll stipulate that the real estate developers bought the land intending to make a profit. I’ll also stipulate that their developing that land will cause disruptions for current local residents – and add that the development would significantly increase income for some of these residents. And, I haven’t expressed my opinion of the development, which is irrelevant to this discussion.

      The point is that many of those who want governmental fiat to remove a landowner’s ability to use his property haven’t shown any interest in doing the hard work necessary to solve the problem themselves. They prefer to post and wave signs and express their outrage when they find an audience or a video camera. (Many of the same faces appear waving signs and expressing wrath at various events.)

      The intentions of the developer and the disruptions of commerce, comfort and convenience of the residents are very different subjects; the first can’t be known but the latter are worthy of separate debate.

      I doubt that the owners would set a price for “dickering” unless they received an offer from a person or group they could take seriously. If you don’t have such resources then you can’t know the starting point for the “dickering.”

    • Terry,

      Thanks for offering your perspicacious insights and clarifying your intention.

      An insult is “an insolent or rude action or remark; an affront.” For example, the “OK” sign with finger and thumb or the “thumbs up” sign are positive affirmations in this society and accepted as normal. In Turkey these hand signs would generally be considered an insult, although the more educated Turks would be likely to let it pass as an ignorant gesture from one who is not of much importance (a tourist, for instance).

      Unless your connection to the dark side is far greater than I think, your speculation about the sale (and value) of my soul is hyperbole, not insult per se. An affront? Not at all.

      Rude and insolent characterize your public commentary leading me to believe that they are simply part of your character, so I take no offense even if it is intended. That is, your remarks are only attempts at insulting me — from my perspective.

  2. “Don’t Identify” comment

    If a group formed to raise funds to purchase Banning Ranch would you contribute?


    That would depend on the plan – hiring a fundraising group that skims 40 – 80% off the funds collected would weigh against donating. A plan to maintain and sustain the property that was based upon highly-optimistic projections would be a deal killer. A good plan to raise the funds and to sustain the property? Certainly.

  3. “Don’t Identify” comment

    DU? Yeah, they’re great just like Safariland Incorporated saves lions – to shoot them!

    Why do you – they? – have to kill everything they claim to save? If you cared about lions you’d save them with pictures. But then it wouldn’t be a “safari” would it?


    I think you mean Safari Club International. See the reply below. If you’re actually interested, the stats show that SFI does more (measured by dollars actually used to save wildlife) than the Greenpeace/SPCA/and similar groups use in total. Also, you’ll see that hunting bans in Africa have almost always led to markedly increased poaching, crop failures, soil erosion and populations unable to support themselves and make their own choices.

  4. “Don’t Identify” comment

    . . . The only reason DU protects marshes and makes nests is to kill ducks.


    A similar level of reply to your assertion would be that the “Save Banning Ranch” folks just want a place for their dogs to defecate – irrelevant, silly and contrary to evidence.

  5. “Don’t Identify” comment

    It would cost a great deal to buy Banning Ranch . . . It’s much cheaper to just block the developer.

  6. Hey, Pop —
    Your banging wrench comes across as hitting the wrong drum. NBR has never, NEVER expressed a willingness to sell the 419 acre parcel for any price. Had they ever done so, collections, crowdsourcing, fundraising, and donations would have raised the dough, probably in jig-time. But you can’t raise money to buy something that’s not for sale.
    On top of that, you’re ‘way off base to complain that the “Save Banning Ranch” people are advocating eminent domain proceedings. I don’t know from what direction that idea fell into your hat; but if you are going to make wild assertions like that, you should at least consider having a source on it other than the other patrons at Skosh Monahan’s… You could even have gotten that TV anchor, whose name I’ve already forgotten, to give you a quote on it. But I have never heard any stirring of threatened eminent domain from any of the people at Banning Ranch Conservancy.
    Is your soul for sale? No? Has anyone ever threatened eminent domain for it? Or is it off the market because it is already in the hands of a developer? I hope you didn’t accept NBR’s lowball bid for it; you could at least have made another dollar on it, thus quintupling the price.
    You really ought to confine your comments to truth and opinion — your statement about eminent domain is neither.

    • Thanks Terry,

      My OPINION is that “Save Banning Ranch” people want government to forbid development of Banning Ranch thus depriving the owners of the ability to use the property. That’s not an eminent domain act – which requires specific conditions and proving certain needs – but it has the same effect.

      The FACT taught in Econ 101 is that a commodity has a price at which it will be sold. So, the ASSUMPTION that the owners haven’t advertised it for sale is irrelevant. (If they did the donations you ASSERT would automatically – and without work – would appear would have to total more than bids by others who’d like to develop that property for their own purposes. Ducks Unlimited collects funds, makes offers, and negotiates prices. “Save Banning Ranch” wants government edict to forbid development.)

      Wikipedia has some fascinating discussions of truth, opinion, and eminent domain.

      Have you succumbed to the “ultra-lefty/ultra-righty” tactic of making all debate into personal attack? You shame your brain with emotional diatribe and attempted insults.

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