Thursday, June 3, 2010
The gist of my presentations is that land development regulations which induce more walkability and less car centric design generally result in healthier lifestyles.
Conversely, those regs that separate compatible uses and prioritize vehicular use--even in urban settings designed for pedestrian activity, get people off their feet, in their cars, and more out of shape.
The Alabama Department of Public Health will be posting the powerpoints soon so I'll provide a link when they are up.
In the big picture, the more I researched in preparation for these events, the more I became convinced that land use sprawl is more of a obesity factor than I ever believed.
--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Another interesting article from Hannah J. Wiseman (Texas): Regulatory Adaptation in Fractured Appalachia, a symposium contribution forthcoming in the Villanova Environmental Law Review. The abstract:
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Hannah J. Wiseman (Texas) has posted Public Communities, Private Rules, Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 98, No. 3 (2010). The abstract:
Sunday, May 30, 2010
We have posted several times on the movement towards urban agriculture (and chickens) and neighborhood gardening. But sometimes The Man (and zoning and other land use codes) won't allow it. From the Wisconsin State Journal, Guerilla Gardeners: They leave a garden when no one else is looking.
True “guerrilla gardening” — planting in a public place, where one doesn’t have permission — is difficult to confirm and by nature is secret. It’s also illegal, although the city prefers to educate residents rather than enforce a $500 fine for violating tree planting rules, said George Hank, the city’s director of building inspection.
Guerrilla gardeners have their own code of conduct, said John, the East Side guerrilla gardener who the State Journal is not identifying because he also is a volunteer gardener with the city and does not want to lose that position.
“My thought is always that people not mess with other people’s gardens,” John said. “There are so many places that need attention around this city.”
Shortly after Justice Stevens announced his retirement, we posted an article by Prof. John Echeverria on Justice Stevens' career legacy in property law, taking a generally positive view. Last week, Prof. James W. Ely, Jr. (Vanderbilt, law & history) published an op-ed in the Washington Times with a critical view of Justice Stevens' record on property. From Stevens, Kagan, and Property Rights:
However, in at least one important area of constitutional law--the rights of property owners--Justice Stevens' record fell woefully short of protecting the interests of average citizens. In fact, Justice Stevens consistently dismissed property rights claims and voted to strengthen government control over the lives on individuals.
In Kelo, Justice Stevens virtually eviscerated the public use limitation of the Fifth Amendment at the federal level. Under his reading of public use, legislators appear to have almost unlimited power to take homes and businesses for economic development. The beneficiaries likely will be corporations and others with political clout. In practice, developers and local officials often work in tandem to eliminate neighborhoods and displace residents in order to achieve hypothetical economic gains.
Hopefully Elena Kagan, Mr. Obama's nominee to replace Justice Stevens, holds a more balanced view of the importance of property rights in the American constitutional order. As in many other fields of law, however, Ms. Kagan's record with respect to property rights is a blank slate. It certainly would be appropriate for senators at Ms. Kagan's confirmation hearing to ask her about her thoughts on this subject.
If you thought my recent post about the Hue development in Raleigh, N.C. was troubling, check out this recent story regarding Las Vegas:
Earlier this month, Houston-based Metrostudy reported that Las Vegas has more than 8,200 condominium units that are sitting empty, including those still vacant in CityCenter.
Murphy said Las Vegas has a 20-year supply of condominiums whose prices are down 60 percent from the peak of the market a few years ago. Some high rises aren’t selling for that much more per square foot than single-family homes, he said.
Our fellow blogger, Prof. Pindell lives in Vegas. Ngai, is it as bad as it sounds from this article?
--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.
The ongoing land development crash is filled with amazing anecdotes. I've followed many of them as part of my research and writing. Recently, though, I ran across one that shocked and awed me more than any other before.
It's the story of a infill mixed-use project that, since it could not obtain enough presales, could not tap into the massive amount of federal monies floating around out there:
Hue wasn't able to get the presales needed for Fannie Mae or FHA approval, something that two of its downtown Raleigh competitors, the RBC Plaza condos and Bloomsbury Estates, have achieved.
Highwoods Properties, the developer of RBC Plaza, has sold 105 of the tower's 139 condos, but just five in the past four months. Bloomsbury has sold four of its 56 units, according to Wake County property records. Hue's units were priced between $147,000 and $388,000. The entire project, including a parking deck, has a tax value of $33 million.
New condo projects have a reservation period in which they accept commitments from buyers before they can actually sell units. Hue frustrated many prospective buyers because its reservation period dragged on longer than expected. The project began selling units only in January, and it offered a variety of perks to get people in the door.
Instead of buying a unit outright, a resident could sign a contract to lease one and live in it until the building reached the presale requirement that made it eligible for federal loan assistance. Buyers were offered a free washer, dryer, refrigerator and parking space.
This is really pretty startling that a project of this size and cost is essentially sitting empty across from Raleigh's city hall.
--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.