Thursday, April 7, 2011

Salkin on Practically Grounded Conference

Patricia Salkin has given me permission to re-post this message to the environmental law professors listserv:

In its late February article, entitled “As They Ponder Reforms, Law Deans Find Schools Remarkably Resistant to Change,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that law faculty use the “lecture-based model because it is cost-effective and convenient,” quoting Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of University of California’s Irvine School of Law. In the same article, Dean Richard Matasar of New York Law School bluntly states, "[w]e're all old dogs trying to learn some new tricks, and all of us old dogs have got tenure and we're not going any place.”

John Nolon of Pace Law School and I conducted a teaching survey in the land use law area and found remarkable evidence showing change in teaching skills in recent years.  We suggest that the practical, emotionally-charged, interdisciplinary, and grounded nature of land use, as well as environmental and sustainable development law, make courses on these subjects ideal both for teaching skills and values and for integrating podium and clinical methods of instruction. (See Practically Grounded: Convergence of Land Use Pedagogy and Best Practices, Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 60, Number 3, February, 2011, at p. 519.)  Our survey shows that the trend toward teaching practice skills in traditional doctrinal courses is underway, at least in the land use classroom.

Deans and professors are focused on this issue in part because the American Bar Association is planning to add “student learning outcomes” to the process of accrediting law schools.  Drafting new rules for schools to follow has been delegated to the ABA’s Student Learning Outcomes Subcommittee.  This six-member group is charged with the controversial task of determining the rules that schools must follow to determine and measure the skills that law students should have upon graduation. For further information on these accreditation issues see The National Law Journal of Feb 22, 2011.

Albany and Pace Law Schools are sponsoring a conference on this topic. On May 5th, nearly a dozen land use and environmental law professors from law schools across the country will present their skills and values teaching models. Additionally, our resident experts will facilitate extensive discussions regarding best practices for teaching practice skills to students in upper division courses.  High on the list of discussion topics are the time practice teaching takes, class size issues, and the concern over lost doctrinal coverage.  Please click here for conference information if you are interested in attending.

Matt Festa, Jon Rosebloom, Jessica Owley and I are among the presenters.  We hope you'll join us.

Jamie Baker Roskie

April 7, 2011 in Conferences, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lifestyle Centers...

As indoor shopping malls became less popular in the last two decades, the open-air lifestyle center (sometimes with a vertical mixture of uses) stepped into the void as an alternative for land developers.

They didn't prove to be the silver bullet though that some predicted. 

This story for Retail Traffic discusses why:

Lifestyle centers, as a concept, rose and fell spectacularly right along with the industry’s boom and bust.

That’s left backers of such properties going back to the drawing board and reimagining what lifestyle centers can be. These new approaches at times seem to redefine the concept itself. Whether or not to include anchors, whether to incorporate of non-retail uses and rethinking tenanting strategies are just some of the questions developers are wrestling with.

Developers are even trying to be more careful about how they use the term. During the boom years, the “lifestyle center” name got abused and stretched beyond all meaning, says Josh Poag, president of Poag & McEwen in Memphis, Tenn., which helped pioneer the concept. “Anything with a Starbucks in it was considered a lifestyle center,” he says. As a result, the label “jumped the shark” and “people were using it for anything and everything.”

If lifestyle centers are to succeed going forward, Poag and others argue that to qualify for the name, they should boast open-air environs and primarily upscale retailers. And while the first lifestyle centers eschewed anchors and included only inline retail, developers feel the mix going forward may be a bit more varied.

What I've yet to see research on is whether the existence of a residential component (like this one) to the lifestyle center has helped keep viability up since it embeds an audience in addition to those who travel to the center.  My hunch is that is the it does because, if someone lives at the lifestyle center, their likelihood of shopping there likely goes up.  The big question is whether the cost of adding the residential product offsets the financial benefit of the built in audience.

Chad Emerson

April 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Columbia Conference on Sea Level Rise

From Michael Gerrard at Columbia Law:

Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School and The Republic of the Marshall Islands
invite you to attend an international academic conference:


May 23 - 25, 2011
Columbia University
New York, New York


Scientific summary: How much time do we have?
Statehood and statelessness
Preserving marine rights: Fishing and minerals
Legal remedies


Resettlement and migration issues
Existing legal structures
A new international convention?


Engineering for the future
Law and policy choices

[Visit this link for] Further information, and registration to attend conference or to view live webcast.

Jamie Baker Roskie

April 6, 2011 in Climate, Coastal Regulation, Conferences, Environmental Justice, Environmental Law, New York | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Competing Mineral and Wind Rights

In my previous post, I mentioned that renewable energy law often raises property and land use issues.  For a recent example of legislative action in this area, see Oklahoma H.B. 1821, which, if enacted, would provide: "Any rights derived from a wind or solar energy agreement shall be subordinate in all respects to [oil and gas] exploration rights except to the extent consent is otherwise given . . . ."  The bill also would require a wind or solar developer to obtain prior written consent from "the owner of [oil and gas] exploration rights" in order for the developer to "diminish[], abrogate[], or interfere[] with" exploration rights, and the owners of oil and gas exploration rights would be allowed to grant or withhold consent "for any reason or no reason." Jeff Wilson, the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA) Vice President of Governmental Affairs, notes that "the wind turbines and transmission lines popping up across western Oklahoma can make it tough to bring in oil and gas rigs," and he supports the bill.  A separate pending bill, S.B. 124, would also block wind developers from using eminent domain authority to acquire land.   The wind industry is understandably concerned about these developments, arguing that H.B. 1821 would halt most wind development in the state.

Professor Ernest Smith and Becky Diffen have a useful discussion of broader legal principles likely to emerge in mineral-wind surface disputes in their "Winds of Change" article in the Texas Journal of Oil, Gas, and Energy Law.  As Smith and Diffen point out, developers can avoid many of the conflicts anticipated by Oklahoma's bill through private contracting.  Oil or gas and wind developers can enter into an accommodation agreement, for example, wherein they agree to share roads for rigs and construction equipment and select specific locations for well and tower placement.  Regardless of the remedy chosen, mineral-wind disputes will likely expand in importance as renewables continue to grow, and these raise interesting questions for the classroom.  Will first-in-time principles continue to govern?  Who must "accommodate" whom under traditional common law doctrines? If a wind and mineral lease are acquired simultaneously, should one right have priority over another, or should the parties be required to negotiate from equal positions?  Many of the answers to these questions will likely depend on states' energy priorities.  In states with strong natural gas economies, like Oklahoma, gas development may maintain the upper hand despite the abundant winds that blow through the western portion of the state.   As the OIPA President has argued, "In Oklahoma law, the mineral estate is the dominant estate." If supporters of H.B. 1821 succeed, the law likely will reflect this position. 

Hannah Wiseman

April 6, 2011 in Oil & Gas, Wind Energy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


My friends at the Madison-Morgan [Georgia] Conservancy have just published and posted the Farmeander Map.  This is a cool driving tour tool for visiting agritourism sites (including organic farms, berry and flower farms, and natural meat operations) in Morgan County, along with fun places to stay and a schedule of festivals throughout the year.

For many smaller agriculture operations in Georgia, agritourism is critical for economic viability.  It also helps we city-dwellers create and maintain relationships with the folks who produce our food.  While "Fameander" is a new (and trademarked) term, there are many agritourism programs around the country, including "Farmer for a Day."  So, wherever you are, consider "farmeandering" around to find out what's what with your local food supply.

Jamie Baker Roskie

April 6, 2011 in Agriculture, Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mixed Use/TOD/New Urbanism/Form-Based Codes "Day"

I'm asking for your help.  I've blocked out one day near the end of the semester to focus directly on "modern urban development forms"--i.e., mixed use; transit-oriented development; new urbanism/neotraditional development; form-based codes; etc.  The casebook I use has about ten pages on this, and they're good, but I'd like to supplement it with at least one accessible, interesting article that would help introduce the concepts to students.  We have been talking about these concepts peripherally throughout the semester, but I'd like to spend one class focusing exclusively on them.  I've got lots of great books on these subjects, but I'm looking for an assignable article-length piece; it could be academic or general-interest.

So if you had to pick one article to give to someone as a starting point for learning about the trend toward mixed use and new urbanism, what would it be?  I'd love to know what you think.  Please leave a comment or email me your recommendations.  I'd love to share the recommendations with the blog readers too.  Thanks!

Matt Festa

April 5, 2011 in Form-Based Codes, New Urbanism, Planning, Scholarship, Smart Growth, Smartcode, Transect, Transportation, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Practically Grounded Conference

We've already blogged about the very exciting upcoming conference Practically Grounded – Embracing Skill and Values Teaching in Land Use, Environmental, and Sustainable Development Law Classes, May 5 at Pace.  The official brocure is now out--click the link for a full-size version, and please consult the website for more information and registration.  It looks like a great program, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Download Practically Grounded

Matt Festa

April 5, 2011 in Conferences, Environmental Law, Scholarship, Sustainability, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Final Four and Land Use in the Unzoned City

Img_0468 As many of you might be aware, the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four has been this weekend in Houston, where I live and teach.  As I write this, the championship game is set to tip off in about an hour in Reliant Stadium, about a mile from my home.  So of course you must be thinking "how is Festa going to turn this into a land use issue?" 

Already done, with my students' help.  On the first day of the semester, to make the point that land use issues intersect with almost everything that goes on in our communities, I put up the home page of the Houston Chronicle and challenged them to explain the land use issues in a given story.  The lead story was something about the then-upcoming Final Four.  So here's some of what we came up with on the fly:

Land assembly--where did they get the land to build the stadium and the parking?  It's next to the old Astrodome (you can see a corner of it in the picture), so I don't believe eminent domain was needed this time around, but you know that's always a big issue with new sports stadiums. 

Use--the Reliant/Astrodome complex was just used up until about two weeks ago for one of the nation's largest Livestock Show & Rodeo events with accompanying carnival.  It's impressive that they could retrofit for the Final Four so quickly.

Transportation--can people get there?  Do the roads need to be widened, etc.?  If so, who pays, and are there legal changes needed?  Houston has a seven-year old light rail that goes from downtown through the Texas Medical Center to the stadium, and it's been quite busy the past weekend.  Also, there've been lots of limos, helicopters, and blimps around town the last few days--where do they go?

Local government--the stadium is goverened not by the City of Houston, but by an independent quasi-public County Sports Authority.  Plus the transportation is governed by a separate Metro agency.  However a lot of coordination is necessary for big events like the Final Four. Final Four 010

Facilities--lots of people coming in from all over the country; where do they stay, etc.  For example, I took a ULI-sponsored construction site tour about a year ago of the just-opened Embassy Suites downtown.  The city's goal was to get a hotel opened in time for the Final Four, so there was a fairly complicated tax incentive scheme put in place that involved changing the law to provide an occupancy-tax break for new hotels sited in a particular space (and they say we don't have zoning based on use).  The incentivized siting was between the light rail and the new Discovery Green park--where a lot of free concerts have been given as part of the festivities--and the downtown convention center, where the "Bracketown" official hoopla program was held.  All of this is just a few blocks from where I teach at South Texas College of Law.  Discovery Green is itself also a recently-built and critically acclaimed new urban park and public space.  Finally, all of the planning and coordination that involves a city's hosting a big event requires lots of logistics, regulatory changes, and many many permit approvals, for things ranging from temporary buildings to new signs.

So my students and I think there are a lot of land use issues involved with having the Final Four in town, and it goes to show that even in the Unzoned City, there are many ways that land use gets regulated and controlled.  It's been fun having all the activity in town, and . . . Go Butler!

UPDATE: It wasn't to be for the underdogs, so congrats to Connecticut.  The photo above was taken by Natalie Festa at almost the exact time that the national championship game tipped off.  "The Road Ends . . ." = land use metaphor?  Tuesday is the women's championship--don't tell my fellow Texans that I'll be pulling for Notre Dame vs. A&M. 

Matt Festa

April 4, 2011 in Development, Downtown, First Amendment, Green Building, History, Houston, Humorous, Local Government, Planning, Politics, Property, Property Rights, Scholarship, Signs, Sun Belt, Teaching, Texas, Transportation, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Los Angeles Becoming a Bicycle Haven?

When you think of the City of Angels, bicycle connectivity isn't typically one of the first things to pop to mind.  However, according to this article, LA is making a big bicycle play:

For the past few years L.A. has been trying to shed its car-centric image and move its population towards public transportation and more eco-friendly means of travel.

Now, the Los Angeles City Council approved a new plan that will give the city a network of 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways. This would include more than 200 miles of new bicycle routes every five years.

This is a huge move considering the city currently has fewer than 400 miles of bikeways that aren’t really connected to each other.

About $1.75 million each year for bike infrastructure could come from Measure R, a transportation sales tax approved by county voters in 2008. Additional funding will come from state and city transit agency sources, City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said.

Chad Emerson

April 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Glover Blackwell on Social Equity and Geographic Inclusion

Just in time for this week's discussion of the Mt. Laurel responses to exclusionary zoning, Shelterforce, the magazine of the National Housing Institute, features an article by PolicyLink's founder and CEO, Angela Glover Blackwell.  In Equity Is Not Optional, she makes the case for both social equity as indispensable to sustainable national success and commitment to inclusionary, place-based strategies as critical to social equity.  She then sets out five principles for a social equity strategy illustrating each with model programs such as Harlem Children’s Zone and San Diego's Market Creek Plaza.   With Patrick Maier's sidebar on Inclusionary Zoning, it may make for some timely supplemental reading.

Jim K.

April 3, 2011 in Affordable Housing, Community Economic Development, Inclusionary Zoning, Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)