Activity #3: Debate!

In this debate, we played as the city government at a coastal area who try to do our job to provide health, safety, and public welfare for the community after a natural disaster. It seems that a hurricane becomes our great challenge to prove that we really want to offer those basic needs for everyone, especially for a coastal community.

The first thing that we concern most is the public safety. We have to relocate our community at a coastal area to a safer place in the city. Besides, the community’s city council has passed a plan which prevents people to rebuild their homes at the area. This plan is logic since a hurricane could destroy buildings and lives in a huge scale. The houses which were built in the area were poorly constructed, and we do not allow them to rebuild the same thing in the future.

Secondly, we know that the owners of the residential properties in the coastal areas are poor. That’s why, we will help them to rebuild their houses at a safer place by offering a low interest construction loans. We will not give them free houses but we help them to find a better, cheaper, and safer place to live in.

Thirdly, we use the power of eminent domain and the Fifth Amendment to take over the land. Of course, we will give back the property owners with a just-compensation according to the present condition of the properties. If the owners do not agree to the offer, they can bring the case to the court. We can negotiate to the value of their land, but we cannot negotiate to the value of their lives. Protecting lives is a must.

Another point that we consider to is the rezoning of the coastal areas. We will develop a new commercial center as our commitment to use the land for public purposes. The City will provide a regulation about the higher standard construction for this vulnerability zone. The commercial center can be used for tourism, hypermarket, and any kind of businesses that provide more jobs for the community. Indeed, the poor people who are relocated from the area can have a new opportunity to get a job. This is another effort from the City to afford a public welfare for the community.

At last, we understand that the coastal community has a prejudice to us. They think the City wishes to push the poor out of the town. On the other hand they prefer to redevelop the areas together with the private companies. We think that it is not wise to give their trust to the private companies since the community lack of knowledge and cannot control the businessmen. If they have a trust to give, they better give it to the City for our job is to serve the community. In fact, the people control the city through the city council because the council members are elected people at large or at their districts. If these representatives make an unfair policy for the community, they will have to face the next election as a nightmare for their political careers.

I think the debate was fabulous. We had to stand for something that we might deny. We deal with the poor who have nothing after a disaster. Their hope is simple, that is to rebuild their homes in their land. Although relocating them to a safer place and buy their properties may be a good plan and legal, a government that can be trusted is more anticipated at that circumstance. Certainly, the City has to have a plan to solve the problem, but no matter what the City plans, the community will always reject it with or without logical explanation if they do not trust the City. Unfortunately, the rejection becomes useless since the City has power to do anything in the name of public safety and eminent domain.

I believe that the regulation serves the community; it is not the community serves the regulation. Instead of starting to offer a plan, the City should begin with convincing the community that both of them are on the same side to achieve health, safety, and welfare. On the other hand, the community should always actively involve in the planning process and use court room as a final place to claim justice.

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