Friday, May 13, 2011

Live Near Work. Get Paid.

At least that's the formula for some D.C. residents as part of this pilot program:

Perhaps moving to be near your job would be more appealing if it came with $12,000 dollars. Washington, D.C.'s Office of Planning is launching a pilot program called Live Near Your Work that will match up to $6,000 in incentives that businesses offer to employees to move near work or public transit. The new digs just have to be within two miles of work, within half a mile of a Metro station, or within a quarter mile of a "high-quality" bus corridor. The program has $200,000 to give out in total, which isn't much, but that's just for this initial phase.

I've been researching downtown incentives a great deal lately and this strikes me as a very interesting one.  The key will be to quantify the benefits and demonstrate intended resulting actions like use of mass transit or walking/biking.

Chad Emerson.

May 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Slate Declares the "Death of the McMansion"

Read all about it here. A quote from the article:

While the evidence is fragmentary—the current reduction in average new house sizes has more to do with the preponderance of first-time buyers than an overall shift in demand—it is clear that the long recessionary cold-shower will dampen the exuberance that characterized the boom years of 2000 to 2005. That will mean smaller houses closer together on smaller lots in inner suburbs, fewer McMansions, and fewer planned communities in the distant hinterland. An alternative scenario is that American optimism will prevail and it will be business as usual, as happened during the boom of the 1950s following the Great Depression, or during the period following the Energy Crisis of 1973, when car buyers, after a brief flirtation with Japanese compact cars, embraced minivans and SUVs. But I wouldn't count on it.

Of course, there were scooped on this story last summer by CNBC, who was scooped in turn in 2009 by a builder/blogger in Dallas. Hope springs eternal, I guess.  Still, to follow an (unrelated) trend to citing Dylan, the times, they are a'changin'.

Jamie Baker Roskie

May 12, 2011 in Architecture, Suburbs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Gardner on U.S. Wetland Law, Policy, and Politics

Royal C. Gardner (Stetson) has posted Lawyers, Swamps, and Money: U.S. Wetland Law, Policy, and Politics.  It is the introduction to his new book of the same name from Island Press (2011).  The abstract:

This paper is the table of contents and introduction to Royal C. Gardner, Lawyers, Swamps, and Money: U.S. Wetland Law, Policy, and Politics (Island Press 2011). The book is an accessible guide to the complex set of laws governing America's wetlands. After explaining the importance of these critical natural areas, the book examines the evolution of federal law, principally the Clean Water Act, designed to protect them.

Readers will first learn the basics of administrative law: how agencies receive and exercise their authority, how they actually make laws, and how stakeholders can influence their behavior through the Executive Branch, Congress, the courts, and the media. These core concepts provide a base of knowledge for successive discussions of:

the geographic scope and activities covered by the Clean Water Act; the curious relationship between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency; the goal of no net loss of wetlands; the role of entrepreneurial wetland mitigation banking; the tension between wetland mitigation bankers and in-lieu fee mitigation programs; enforcement issues; and wetland regulation and private property rights.

The book concludes with policy recommendations to make wetlands law more effective.

Looks like a new key resource for anyone intersted in wetlands law.

Matt Festa

May 12, 2011 in Coastal Regulation, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, Property Rights, Scholarship, Supreme Court, Takings, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Mayors Institute on City Design...

...turns 25 years old--and Thomas Wright has some important reflections on this anniversary at

Perhaps the strongest legacy of the Institute is how conventional its message has become over the past 25 years. Mayors understand the attractiveness of mixed use communities and 24/7 neighborhoods. They understand the benefits of master planning, historic preservation, arts districts, design guidelines, new urbanism, smart growth, sustainability and many more buzzwords. As a regional planner, I found myself wishing that we had made even a fraction of this progress on the need for integrated infrastructure systems and capital investments, but hopefully that’s yet to come.

As the sessions wound down in Chicago, it was thrilling to take a step back and think about what Mayor Riley’s epistle has achieved over the past 25 years, and its place in planning history. I’d argue that it should be taught in our public schools, just as Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago was part of the curriculum in public schools for many decades. After all, not since Jane Jacobs wrote a book about her experiences in Greenwich Village has a document had such a profound – and beneficial – impact on American cities.

Read the entire article here.

Chad Emerson.

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Urban Chickens in Albany

We've posted a few times about the curious topic of urban chickens.  The issue really crosses a lot of lines between the public-health origins of zoning; class; sustainability; and modern trends like local food

Local chickens are being debated in my hometown of Albany.  Here is the story from the Times Union: Chickens Join City's Urban Sprawl.  Apparently it's up to the Mayor now.  The reporter also has a blog post asking for feedback here

Thanks to Helen Festa for the link.  Interestingly, Albany Law's Patricia Salkin mentioned this controversy last week when she was telling me that out of all of her (many!) recent pieces, it is her article Feeding the Locavores, One Chicken at a Time: Regulating Backyard Chickens, that has gotten the most SSRN downloads.  There must be a lot of passion out there about urban chickens!

Matt Festa

May 11, 2011 in Agriculture, Food, Local Government, New York, Scholarship, Sprawl | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reminder: Designing Tomorrow thru July 10

I have mentioned a couple of times that I am very interested in the National Building Museum's featured exhibition, Designing Tomorrow: America's World's Fairs of the 1930s

When we were at the second annual meeting of the Association for Law, Property, and Society, guest blogger Ken Stahl and I made some time to go over to the Museum and check it out.  It was really worth the visit.  The curators have assembled a fantastic collection of images, artifacts, and presentations about these public events that really had a profound impact on how Americans envisioned--and then shaped--the future from the 1930s, a key time in planning and policy history. 

So if you haven't been yet, try to get to DC to check it out before it closes on July 10.  In the meantime, the Designing Tomorrow exhibit has an outstanding companion book, which I am about halfway through, some other web resources, and a program of guest speakers. 

Matt Festa

May 11, 2011 in History, Planning, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Will Southern Arizona Become the 51st State?

In my on-going quest to post items that marry my interests in land use and immigration law, I present an NPR story that aired yesterday about efforts by a group in Pima County, Arizona to break away over Arizona's draconian (and possibly federally preempted) effort to regulate illegal immigration.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I also note that Georgia's legislature has passed a similar bill.)

It doesn't sound much like the effort to create Baja Arizona will come to fruition, but it's an interesting piece of political protest.  We'll see what comes next.

Jamie Baker Roskie

May 11, 2011 in Georgia, Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Legality of "Local"...

One of the interesting things that I've seen grow lately is the use of the "local" branding to sell different products.  This has become especially popular when it comes to farmers markets, farmstands, and other agricultural uses.

The idea (an accurate one in my mind) is that local is healthier and more energy efficient.  Yet, even the term "local" has legal issues:

Massachusetts doesn’t have a law on the books regulating the use of the word “local,” but Vermont and New Hampshire do – with occasionally illogical results. Bonanno and Dumaresq farm Massachusetts soils that lie just a few miles from the New Hampshire border, but by law, their produce cannot be labeled “local” at New Hampshire markets. Yet food grown more than 100 miles to the north would qualify as long as the farm is in the Granite State. In Massachusetts, grocers are free to interpret “local” as they see fit – and for big chains, it’s generally more economical to buy goods year-round from just one or two large purveyors rather than dealing with the complexities of ordering seasonally from local producers

“It’s a powerful word, there’s no doubt,” says Bill McGowan, produce coordinator for Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic region. Although it’s an international operation, Whole Foods has a supply chain in place meant to satisfy its customers’ demand for local foods. Lee Kane, Whole Foods’ “EcoCzar” and “regional forager” (yes, that’s what it says on his business card) is responsible for ferreting out local goodies for every Whole Foods in New England and for overseeing store-based foragers.

In order to be considered local in a New England Whole Foods store, a product must meet two of three tests, says Kane. “It must be raised or grown locally, packaged locally, and/or produced locally,” and by local he means coming from one of the six New England states or eastern upstate New York. Produce buyers at each store are also encouraged to source products from farms that are closer – a policy McGowan says “is fairly unique in our industry.”

Some would argue that lumping all of New England into your definition of “local” is too broad. Grocer David Warner in Jamaica Plain prefers a much stricter definition. To Warner and his wife, Kristine Cortese, co-owners of City Feed and Supply’s two locations, “local” means within 100 miles, and products that come from within 300 miles are labeled “regional.”

“I like our definition,” Warner says. “Once in a while we also use ‘hyperlocal,’ by which we mean walking distance from the store.” His stores carry 600-plus local and regional products, even more during the growing season. “It frustrates me that [local] isn’t formalized,” he acknowledges.

From a land use perspective, this issue is closely related to a trend we're beginning to see more and more of as agriculture (traditionally located in "ag" zones) is finding itself creeping into the most urban zones of many towns (including even rooftops).

Read the entire article here.

Chad Emerson.

May 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hirokawa on Sustaining Ecosystem Services Through Local Environmental Law

Keith H. Hirokawa (Albany) has posted another piece: Sustaining Ecosystem Services Through Local Environmental Law, forthcoming in the Pace Environmental Law Review, Vol. 28, No. 3 (2011).  The abstract:

In the early decades of modern environmental law, local governments retained their prerogative over community design and other essentially local matters, but were largely excluded from the debate on national environmental policy. More recently, environmental lawyers have reignited the question of how and where the local government regulation of land use impacts intersects with environmental quality. It is interesting to note that as the national dialogue has turned to the important role of local governments in achieving our environmental quality goals, there has been a corresponding emergence of an "ecosystem services" approach to understanding nature. It is more interesting to note how many of the stories of ecosystem services – successes, explanations, and illustrations – take place in local governments and in community decision making. Perhaps by coincidence, but likely due to design, local environmental law and ecosystem services have evolved in a complementary manner.

This article looks at the recent trends in recognizing and regulating ecosystem services at the local level. Local governments are adopting regulations aimed at capturing the benefits of functioning ecosystems by transcending aesthetic values of local nature and focusing on ecological processes and the services they provide. Section II introduces the topic by arguing that because of the manner in which local governments regulate environmental impacts, the value embedded in ecosystem services is commensurable with local regulation. Section III illustrates the relationship between local governance and ecosystem services, as well as the opportunities presented by this relationship, by examining some of the ways that local environmental law has embraced the advantages of an ecosystem services perspective. This article concludes that local governments are leaders in the implementation of ecosystems services-based regulation, that communities are the direct beneficiaries of such action, and that this is exactly as it should be.

Matt Festa

May 10, 2011 in Community Design, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Local Government, Scholarship, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ely on the Constitution and Economic Liberty

James W. Ely, Jr. (Vanderbilt) has posted The Constitution and Economic Liberty, forthcoming in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.  The abstract:

This essay addresses the relationship between the Constitution and Bill of Rights and the concept of economic liberty. It calls into question the famous quip of Justice Holmes in Lochner v. New York (1905) that the Constitution was not intended “to embody a particular economic theory.” The essay contends that the framers of the Constitution clearly envisioned a constitutional order grounded on private property and a market economy. To this end, many provisions of the Constitution pertain to property interests and economic activity. It concludes that, although the Constitution does not endorse a laissez-faire regime, Holmes was wrong to suggest that the Constitution was entirely neutral with respect to economic policy. In fact, the framers favored a free market and sought to protect property and contractual rights.

This short essay from one of my mentors is packed with a compelling historical argument. 

Matt Festa

May 10, 2011 in Constitutional Law, History, Politics, Property Rights, Property Theory, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More on Practically Grounded

Just a quick follow up to Matt's post about the Practically Grounded conference last week.  This was the first time I've been to (or presented at) a conference of this type.  It was so interesting to hear how land use and environmental professors are really engaging their students in experiential and interdisciplinary learning in their doctrinal, clinical, and skills classes.  I learned so much!

It was also a historic moment in that there were three land use clinicians in the same room.  Michelle Bryan Mudd from University of Montana and Kat Garvey from Vermont joined us. There aren't many Land Use Clinics in the country, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with them and get their perspective on running this type of clinic.  Who knows, this might even lead to some inter-state collaboration down the road?

Pace University Law School plans a follow up journal edition to this conference, so that folks who weren't able to attend will be able to read the preceedings.  Hopefully this is also the first of many conferences of its type to come.

Jamie Baker Roskie

May 10, 2011 in Conferences, Environmental Law, New York, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Zoning for Solar Energy on Federal Lands

A recent proposal from two federal agencies recommends using zoning to encourage and coordinate utility-scale solar energy development on public lands.

Last December, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released their Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), which summarizes a two-year study of the potential environmental impacts of industrial-scale solar energy development on BLM land in six western states.  Based on the study, the DOE and BLM want to designate 24 specific areas covering more than 1,000 square miles of land in those states as Solar Energy Zones—areas where the BLM would prioritize its solar energy siting activities. 

The PEIS is intriguing from an academic perspective in that it evidences the DOE’s and BLM’s deliberate effort to direct solar energy development only to those specific geographic areas that can accommodate the development for the lowest environmental cost.  As Professor Sara Bronin recently emphasized in her article, Curbing Energy Sprawl with Microgrids, siting renewable energy projects in remote areas often requires expansive transmission infrastructure and other improvements that can intrude upon habitats and pristine wilderness.  For those reasons, some conservation and wildlife protection groups have expressed dissatisfaction over the new PEIS and continue to oppose solar energy projects on federal lands (for example, Colorado-based Solar Done Right released a report last month sharply criticizing the document).  On the other hand, the PEIS does attempt to address environmental concerns and should facilitate more cost-justified solar energy development on BLM property.  And markets seem poised to move more of these projects forward:  Google recently announced its commitment to invest $168 million in Brightsource’s Ivanpah Solar Project on BLM land in California’s Mojave Desert.

Troy Rule

May 9, 2011 in Clean Energy, Comparative Land Use, Development, Environmental Law, Planning, Sustainability, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Practically Grounded Conference on Best Practices in Teaching Land Use

On Thursday Pace Law School hosted the conference Practically Grounded: Best Practices for Skill Building in Teaching Land Use, Environmental, and Sustainable Development Law.  John Nolon and Patricia Salkin organized this event to advance the discussion they started with their recent article Practically Grounded: Convergence of Land Use Law Pedagogy and Best Practices, published in the Journal of Legal Education (2011).  The conference was ably sponsored by the Pace Law School's Land Use Law Center for Sustainable Development and the Kheel Center on the Resolution of Environmental Interest Disputes; and Albany Law School's Government Law Center and the Center for Excellence in Law Teaching. 

The conference brought together a diverse group of people from across disciplines and the legal profession.  Among academics, there were land use and environmental law profs, as one would expect, but also a number of scholars who brought their particular expertise and experience in legal education and the best practices movement.  There was also some great participation from practitioners and students at the event.  A lot of great ideas were shared.  Here's a quick rundown of the presentations:

After the introduction by Profs. Nolon and Salkin, the first panel was an overview discussion of the context of skill and value teaching in law schools and a very helpful discussion of the (much-discussed but less-well-understood) Carnegie Report and Best Practices Report.  Mary Lynch (Albany Law, and also editor of the Best Practices for Legal Education Blog), Jill Gross (Pace), and Vanessa Merton (Pace) conducted this informative discussion along with a humorous role-playing excercise.

The next panel was "Clinics and Values."  Our own co-blogger Jamie Roskie (Georgia) presented "Values as Part of the Clinical Experience," exploring the role of values in student land use clinical work.  Michael Burger (Roger Williams) gave an interesting take on intrapersonal intelligence and advocacy in "Psychological Intelligence as a Lawyering Skill: Integrating Students' Values into Doctrinal Analysis of Environmental Law & Policy."

Panel 3 was "Stakeholders and Role Playing."  Karl Coplan (Pace), in "Teaching Environmental Law Skills Through Interest Group Role-Playing," blew many of us away with how extensively he uses role playing exercises in a capstone environmental law class.  Andrea McArcle (CUNY) spoke about her fascinating newly-designed course in "Learning in Context: Land Use and Community Lawyering."

The next panel was on "Research and Writing."  Dwight Merriam (Vermont Law; Robinson & Cole LLP) presented "Out of the Nest: Getting Students Published" from his intensive land use writing seminar.  Yours truly (South Texas) then spoke about "Research and Writing as Best Practices in Teaching Land Use."

The fifth panel featured two of our recent guest-bloggers on "Science and Other Disciplines."  Jessica Owley (Buffalo) discussed an innovative project called "Distributed Graduate Seminars," where six universities have cooperated to teach an interdisciplinary course on conservation easements.  Jon Rosenbloom (Drake) showed how he engaged his students in real local policy issues in "Now We're Cooking! Adding Practical Application to the Recipe for Teaching Sustainability."

Finally, we heard about "Problem Solving."  Michael Lewyn (Florida Coastal) discussed his approach to livening up a seminar course by getting students to see practical applications in "Experiential Learning through Field Trips and Seminars."  Keith Hirokawa (Albany) closed with "Teaching Law from the Dirt," which discussed his use of and class visit to a real local development project.

The papers were all very interesting, and will be published online in a forthcoming issue of the Pace Law Review.

This was a really enjoyable conference and, I think, a very important one too.  It was absolutely fascinating to learn about so much innovation and creativity that is actually taking place in (and outside of) our classrooms.  One of the common themes--proceeding from the organizers' Practically Grounded article--is that land use is uniquely suited to the application of the best practices movement.  But I think that any field could profit from a discussion like this.  It's a great time to be teaching land use. 

Matt Festa

May 8, 2011 in Conferences, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)