Thursday, September 30, 2010
I've blogged before about an informal "2nd Friday Symposium" held by the River Basin Center here at UGA. I wasn't able to attend the most recent event, so I asked Land Use Clinic student Greg Raburn to report. Here's his summary (and accompanying culinary notes):
The convivial meeting started at 4:00 p.m., but, by the time I was able to get out of class, burn the roof of my mouth on a hastily-heated corn dog, and drive to the River Basin Center, the discussion had already begun The room, which had the appearance of some type of student lounge, was nearly full, and the speaker, who must have been Professor Chuck Hopkinson of Marine Sciences and Director of the Georgia Sea Grant, with beer in hand, was describing the statistics and findings displayed on the projection screen.
He noted that while Savannah, as befitting one of the top U.S. seaports, was being monitored for contamination, Georgia’s southeast coast was not. The oil, if or when it appeared on Georgia’s beaches, he stated, would probably look like tar-balls (which were essentially asphalt, he explained) or micro-droplets, and he and his group had made recommendations to Congressional staffers for detecting the presence of the oil and monitoring it. He said much of the Gulf data was being collected by robotic “Seagliders,” manufactured by iRobot (the makers of the “Roomba” robotic home vacuum cleaner). The gliders were designed to “glide” to the bottom of the ocean, collecting data from their surroundings, and then rise to the surface and transmit the data. In addition to recommending using Seagliders off the Georgia coast, his group additionally recommended using fluorescent sensors, doing tar-ball counts, monitoring “sentinel” organisms, and utilizing satellite monitoring to collect additional data.The next part of the discussion centered on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s leaked press release which had stated that 74% of the released oil was “gone.” The report naturally raised the question: if 74% of the oil was truly gone, where did it go? The press release claimed that 25% of the oil had dissolved or evaporated, 16% had been naturally dispersed, 8% had been chemically dispersed, 17% had never entered the water (captured at the surface), 5% had been burned, and the cleanup efforts had captured 3%, and therefore only 26% of the oil remained in the ocean.
Professor Hopkinson’s group decided to evaluate the data themselves. The first thing they did was discard the figure for the 17% of oil that never entered the water; if some oil never entered the water, they felt it was misleading to include it on a report about the status of the oil in the water. Professor Hopkinson’s group also figured in “degradation,” which, based from data from the Ixtoc oil spill off the coast of Mexico in 1979, was estimated at about 4%-8%. His group ultimately concluded that the oil was not “gone,” but that most of it had simply changed into a form that rendered it uncollectable.
The University of Georgia and the Georgia Sea Grant testified before a [Georgia] Senate subcommittee regarding Georgia’s vulnerability to the oil spill. The Senate subcommittee charged the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to develop an oil sampling plan. Three things were to be sampled: water columns, hard bottom, and fish. If oil were found in these things, then two additional things would then be sampled: sediment and hydrodynamics. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide further details on this part of the discussion, as it went well beyond my limited knowledge of marine science and ecology.
As a side note, Professor Hopkinson also observed that British Petroleum (BP) is selling or has sold off its terrestrial U.S. wells, put its shallow water wells up for sale, and is currently expanding its deepwater drilling in areas with little regulation, such as Africa and Brazil. He suggested this could have been a counterproductive consequence of the recent U.S. sanctions on BP and the restrictions on deepwater drilling. He pointed out that the well currently being drilled in Brazil, will be at almost twice the depth of the Deepwater Horizon.
Professor Hopkinson closed by saying that the University of Georgia Sea Grant website on the oil spill could be found at oilspill.uga.edu, with additional information at www.southatlanticseagrant.org, www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com, and www.restorethegulf.gov.
In conclusion, I found the science and statistics of the discussion to be rather interesting. I had to glean the meaning of much of the technical language from the context in which it was used. The symposium was definitely geared toward someone with more of a background in environmental and marine science than myself, but the group was open and friendly, and a small variety of refreshments were available – including a bowl of dried, multicolored, tubular things that, in size and shape, resembled McDonald’s French Fries. I had to try one. It tasted kind of like a pretzel. I still have no idea what it was.
Jamie Baker Roskie
The press release webpage includes a short, informative YouTube interview with Prof. Lucy. There is also a link to the report and to his supporting data tables. He concludes that the future of the housing market is in recognizing the demand for housing options based on location and demographics.
Sorry about the recent dearth of posts. Here in Montgomery, we recently lost our visionary planning director Ken Groves after a short battle with cancer and its been a trying time.
Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The National Building Museum has announced a new exhibition: Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s, from Oct. 2 (Saturday!) thru July 10, 2011. It sounds absolutely fascinating:
These world's fairs had a profound influence on American culture and ideals for land use. I've blogged about the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition before and its impact on the origins of land use planning. This group from the 1930s also had a profound impact on Americans' notions of modernism, suburbia, and even on the inspiration for Disney World (hey Chad!). Can't wait to see this next time I'm in DC. If you're going to ALPS in March, the National Building Museum is only a couple of blocks away from Georgetown Law, so definitely plan to check it out!
Between 1933 and 1940 tens of millions of Americans visited world's fairs in cities across the nation.Designing Tomorrow will explore the modernist spectacles of architecture and design they witnessed -- visions of a brighter future during the worst economic crisis the United States had known. The fairs popularized modern design for the American public and promoted the idea of science and consumerism as salvation from the Great Depression. . . .
A first-of-its-kind exhibition, Designing Tomorrow will feature nearly 200 never-before-assembled artifacts including building models, architectural remnants, drawings, paintings, prints, furniture, an original RCA TRK-12 television, Elektro the Moto-Man robot, and period film footage. The artifacts are drawn from the featured expositions: Chicago, IL—A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933–34); San Diego, CA—California Pacific International Exposition (1935-36); Dallas, TX—Texas Centennial Exposition (1936); Cleveland, OH—Great Lakes Exposition (1936-37); San Francisco, CA—Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-40); and New York, NY—New York World's Fair (1939-40).
Last Thursday I attended a workshop on "Farm and Estate Transition and Conservation Easements,"sponsored by the Madison-Morgan Conservancy at the Burge Plantation outside Madison, Georgia. The audience was a mix of landowners and lawyers interested in helping farm owners conserve their land and pass their farms onto future generations. This is a very interesting twist on estate planning, and I learned the value of having a qualified lawyer as an adviser on farmland transition. For example, according to Allen H. Olsen, a agriculture law specialist, traditional estate planning can sometimes create governance structures that make the farmer ineligible for farm subsidy programs, thus undermining the farm's ability to survive.
The Rolling Hills Resource Conservation and Development Council has published "Planning the Future of Your Farm: A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer Decisions." I've only had a chance to scan through the Table of Contents, but the book seems to be chock full of tools for planning family meetings, evaluating farm resources, and drafting farm transfer tools. It looks like a great resource for anyone working with farmers interested in effectively planning for the future.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold (Louisville) has posted Fourth-Generation Environmental Law: Integrationist and Multimodal. The abstract:
I blogged recently on the publication of the Notre Dame Symposium on Urban Development. John Mixon (U. of Houston) has just posted to SSRN his contribution, Four Land Use Vignettes from (Unzoned?) Houston. The abstract:
Daniel H. Cole (Indiana-Indianapolis) has posted what looks like another interesting article, Property Creation by Regulation: Rights to Clean Air and Rights to Pollute. The abstract:
Monday, September 27, 2010
Gregory Crespi, has published Green cards for foreign house buyers: a way to help stabilize housing prices in the Tulsa Law Review.
In a recent and provocative Wall Street Journal editorial, Richard Lefrak and Gary Shilling have set forth the broad outlines of a proposed change in federal immigration law that would allow the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to award "green cards" - conditional and eventually permanent resident status that would allow those persons to live in the U.S. and seek employment here if they chose to do so - to foreigners who purchase houses in the U.S. Such a change would not impose any additional burden on taxpayers, and Lefrak and Shilling have argued that it would result in significantly increased demand for US housing that would help to absorb the current excess inventory of approximately 2.4 million unsold homes that is exerting further downward pressure on housing prices. If they are at all accurate in their expectations as to the likely popularity of such a visa program, this would surely help to stabilize housing prices more quickly and at higher levels. They also argue in their editorial that there is already in place a "blueprint" for such a program in the USCIS's current EB-5 investor visa program under which up to 10,000 visas per year can be granted to foreigners who invest sufficient funds in a U.S. business to create at least 10 new full-time jobs.
However, Crespi notes that the EB-5 program has been a "dismal failure" that would serve as a poor model for this new category of visa. Given the worsening climate on immigration, this proposal seems unlikely to be adopted. However, it certainly shows some creative thinking on how to bring some much needed demand into the housing market.
Also, given Chad's post for today, it seems like some of the commentators on the housing market are seeing immigrants as a potential saving force for the US economy - that's an interesting shift in the zeitgeist, which has some politicians calling for ever more restrictive reforms to the immigration system.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Saturday, September 25, 2010
On his New Geography blog for Forbes, Joel Kotkin has an essay on why he thinks there will be a resurgence in the housing market starting later this decade: Why Housing Will Come Back. He begins with a historical observation:
Few icons of the American way of life have suffered more in recent years than homeownership. Since the bursting of the housing bubble, there has been a steady drumbeat from the factories of futurist punditry that the notion of owning a home will, and, more importantly, should become out of reach for most Americans.
Before jumping on this bandwagon, perhaps we would do well to understand the role that homeownership and the diffusion of property plays in a democracy. From Madison and Jefferson through Lincoln’s Homestead Act, the most enduring and radical notion of American political economy has been the diffusion of property.
Kotkin then notes that in recent years, and especially in light of the mortgage crisis, the single-family homeownership ideal has been criticized from both the right (government overpromotion) and the left (sprawl, new urbanism, environmentalism). His response:
Yet for all the problems facing the housing market, homeownership–not exclusively single-family houses–is not likely to fade dramatically for the foreseeable future. The most compelling reason has to do with continued public preference for single-family homes, suburbs and the notion of owning a “piece” of the American dream. This is why that four out of every five homes built in America over the past few decades, notes urban historian Witold Rybczynski, have less to do with government policy than “with buyers’ preferences, that is, What People Want.
Kotkin goes on to explain several reasons why he believes housing will come back, after adjusting to the market correction imposed by the economic recession. Why I find most interesting is that his prediction is based less on economics or law than on demographics:
As boomers age, the two big groups that will drive housing will be the young Millenial generation born after 1983 as well as immigrants and their offspring. Sixty million strong, the millenials are just now entering their late 20s. They are just beginning to start hunting for houses and places to establish roots. Generational chroniclers Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, describe millenials in their surveys as family-oriented young people who value homeownership even more than their boomer parents. They also are somewhat more likely to choose suburbia as their “ideal place to live” than the previous generation.
These tendencies are even more marked among immigrants and their children. Already a majority of immigrants live in suburbia, up from 40% in the 1970s. They are attracted in many cases by both jobs and the opportunity to buy a single-family home. For an immigrant from Mumbai, Hong Kong or Mexico City, the “American dream” is rarely living in high density surrounded by concret
An interesting take. For more writings on urban theory from the center-right perspective (e.g., Why we Have to Learn to Love the Subdivision--Again) see Kotkin's New Geography website.
September 25, 2010 in Density, Development, Environmentalism, Housing, Mortgage Crisis, New Urbanism, Planning, Real Estate Transactions, Sprawl, Suburbs, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Friday, September 24, 2010
Robert W. Adler (Utah) has posted Resilience, Restoration, and Sustainability: Revisiting the Fundamental Principles of the Clean Water Act, Washington U. Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 32, p. 139 (2010). The abstract:
Michele Alexandre (Mississippi) has posted Navigating the Topography of Inequality Post-Disaster: A Proposal for Remedying Past Geographic Segregation During Rebuilding, a chapter from the book Law and Recovery from Disaster: Hurricane Katrina, edited by Robin Paul Malloy for the Ashgate series on Law, Property, and Society (2009). The abstract:
Thursday, September 23, 2010
The Department of Justice this week issued a report on its decade of enforcement actions since the enactment of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). From the press release:
RLUIPA protects places of worship and other religious uses of property from discrimination and unreasonably burdensome regulation in zoning and landmarking law, and also protects the religious freedom of persons confined to institutions such as prisons, mental health facilities and state-run nursing homes. RLUIPA was enacted by both houses of Congress unanimously and signed into law on Sept. 22, 2000. The law was a response to concerns that places of worship, particularly those of religious and ethnic minorities, were often discriminated against in zoning matters.
The report illustrates that in the 10 years since its enactment, RLUIPA has aided thousands of individuals and institutions from a wide range of faith traditions through Department of Justice lawsuits, private lawsuits, and successful efforts to achieve voluntary compliance.
More information can be found in the full Report on the Tenth Anniversary of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
Daniel H. Cole (Indiana-Indianapolis, Law) and Elinor Ostrom (Indiana-Bloomington, Political Science) have posted The Variety of Property Systems and Rights in Natural Resources--An Introduction. The abstract:
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Thanks to John Bonine for the heads' up about this:
Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law and the FAMU Center for Environmental Equity and Justice invite you to attend "New Directions in Environmental Justice, An Environmental Law and Justice Symposium," Friday, November 12, 2010, 8:30 a.m. on the law school campus, 201 Beggs Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32801. The symposium will feature an overview of the latest international, national, state, regional and local developments in Environmental Justice. Continuing Legal Education credits (CLE) are available.Speakers
Opening Keynote: Dr. Beverly Wright, Founder and Director of Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in New Orleans
Luncheon Keynote: Mr. Quentin Pair, Esq., U.S. Department of Justice
Closing Keynote: Prof. Maxine Burkett, University of Hawaii School of Law
The cost is $50.00 for the General Public; $35.00 for FAMU Alumni and Environmental Law Attorneys. To learn more, visit http://law.famu.edu. Or, contact Professor Randall Abate, event coordinator, at Randall.email@example.com, or at 407-254-4044.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Wayne Batchis has published Enabling urban sprawl: revisiting the Supreme Court's seminal zoning decision Euclis v. Ambler in the 21st century in the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law. Here's the abstract:
Today, many urbanists look back at our built environment with bemusement. The outcome of over fifty years of post-war suburbanization has fundamentally reshaped America's manmade landscape. From coast to coast, amorphous urban sprawl envelops America as far as the eye can see - and scholars have just begun to struggle to understand its causes and assess its impact. In this article I examine the phenomenon of urban sprawl and its relationship to exclusionary zoning. I argue that the Supreme Court in 1926 played a key role in enabling sprawl though its permissive zoning jurisprudence in Euclid v. Ambler. Had the Court scrutinized America's early zoning laws with greater rigor, these laws could have been deemed constitutionally suspect - effectively stopping sprawl in its tracks. I conclude by exploring four significant flaws of the Euclid decision in light of the modern epidemic of sprawl.
Jamie Baker Roskie
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