Thursday, May 29, 2008
My question about the upcoming presidential election is whether gasoline prices will be a major issue of the campaign … or whether it be the only major issue of the campaign. What does this have to do with land use law? A recent poll suggests that a sizeable number of Americans want our land preservation policies to be altered to allow for oil drilling. Not only may be the decades-long effort to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge finally achieve the necessary public support, but opposition to more derricks offshore and in other protected areas might be open for serious discussion. Yes, I understand the argument that allowing drilling inthe ANWR and elsewhere probably would decrease prices by only a couple of pennies –- years from now. But when the public demands action, politicians want to appear as if they are acting. Now let’s hope there’s no oil in Yosemite Valley or under the Washington Monument …
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Where do Americans go when their houses are foreclosed? The enormous downward movement in housing demand is likely to increase the pressure on local governments to allow more non-traditional forms of housing units, such as “granny flats” and other accessory dwelling units. Localities have typically objected to these forms of housing because they harm the “character” of the community, upset expectations, and raise density unacceptably. But the heavy demand for cheap housing is pushing governments from the east coast to the west coast to take small steps to allow more accessory units for least elderly relatives –- if not for the cousin's family who walked away from their mini-mansion because they couldn’t make their mortgage payments. In an era of earth-shaking changes in the American housing market, such small steps may represent portentous cracks in legal attitudes towards residential density …
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