Friday, April 3, 2020

Rearranging the Docks on Lake Minnetonka

If you're looking at a daily newspaper these days, you know that just about every story has something to do with the pandemic or its economic effects. So that's why this story on the bottom corner of the Star Tribune's Metro section caught my attention:

On one hand, I guess you could say it's a bit of normalcy to see something so petty and stupid in the newspaper, and maybe the suit was filed long before the pandemic was on the horizon. But whoa, this is some bad timing.

The Schusslers, a rich couple (he created the Rainforest Cafe chain of themed restaurants) are upset that the city of Minnetonka Beach dares to have its public dock near their private 110' of beachfront, so they're suing the city. The city dock, you see, "obstructs their use of the lake." Four boats use that public dock and "endanger" swimmers on their private beach.

"God forbid a child or nieces or nephews of their children should ever come over and visit and get hurt in the water," Steve Schussler said. Plus, uh-oh, the public dock means the Schusslers can't build their own private dock to keep their three private boats!

The public dock is on an easement platted in the 19th century, so the public access land was there when the Schusslers bought the place. The shape of the Schusslers' land is the reason the dock is at an angle and, according to the city's lawyer, "they bought it knowing that."

Steve Schussler acknowledges he knew the dock was there when he bought the place! But, being the big man he is, he assumed he would be able to get the city to change it. (That's my interpretation of a more neutrally written sentence in the Strib story.) The couple has been in the house for two-and a-half years.

The last third of the story focuses on an aspect of the case that appears to be the underlying issue in the city, and which I confess I don't even understand: something about waterfront land-owners fearing the city will exert more power in placing docks on these public easements generally without their consent.

The whole story is such a great example of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…as I sit here writing a blog post during a raging pandemic and economic crash caused largely by a sociopath who is killing democracy, all of which is drawing attention away from the climate crisis.

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