Friday, December 17, 2010
Fred Bosselman and David Callies famously characterize land-use in the United States as "a feudal system under which the entire pattern of land development [is] controlled by thousands of individual local governments, each seeking to maximize its tax base and minimize its social problems, and caring less about what happens to others."
Ouch. To teach this point, perhaps with less bite, my Property classes study Associated Home Builders of the Greater Eastbay Inc. v. City of Livermore. Can one municipality adopt zoning ordinances that incidentally harm a neighboring city? What legal standard ought to protect cities against such ordinances?
Our system that vests most land-use decisions in multiple local municipalities contrasts nicely with China's top-down approach. An article today in the People's Daily Online describes 12 Chinese cities punished by China's Ministry of Land and Resources for illegal land-use. Interestingly, China's Ministry of Land and Resources used satellite imagery to discover land-use illegalities and call out the offending city managers. My experience has been that students better internalize our system and its limitations when juxtaposed with varying other approaches - like China's.