Thursday, June 16, 2011
I teach an interdisciplinary Land Use and Planning Law course, which is composed of both law students and graduate students in urban planning. The course has a heavy skills development focus with students participating in interdisicplinary teams on a simulated board of zoning adjustment hearing on a CUP application for a biofuel plant in a low-income minority neighborhood (based on a real case study) and preparing substantial service-learning reports on complex land-use issues for government agencies and nonprofit organizations. The students learn a lot by working on real-world problems and having to work in teams. The projects also pull the students much more deeply into cutting-edge issues than merely reading and discussing cases in the classroom can do (although we do some of that, as well, to prepare them for their projects).
I just blogged on my law school blog about a very cool outcome of one of this past semester's service-learning projects, which I've pasted below:
Law & urban planning students in my Spring 2011 Land Use & Planning Law course prepared an Urban Tree Canopy Plan as a service learning project for the Partnership for a Green City, the Louisville Metro Parks Department, and Community of Trees, an association of government agencies, organizations, and individuals. This plan and its recommendations will be a base from which Community of Trees develops an "Action Plan for Louisville's Urban Forest." A meeting to consider my students' recommendations and to select recommendations for near-future action will be held Wednesday, June 22, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. at 415 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, KY. The students' Urban Tree Canopy plan can be downloaded at:
This was one of 3 service learning projects prepared in the Spring 2011 offering of the innovative and interdisciplinary Land Use & Planning Law course at the University of Louisville.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I have been away from the Land Use Prof blog way too long, because I have been doing a year-long stint as associate dean for academic affairs & faculty development. My one-year commitment ends in 15 days, and as I wrap things up, I have been thinking about the usefuleness of a background in land use law and planning to those who aspire to go into law school administration. For example, I know that our land-use colleague at Pepperdine, Shelley Saxer, had at least a couple of very successful runs as associate dean at Pepperdine, and many others in our field have enjoyed success as law school administrators.
I enjoyed the job a whole lot more than I thought I would, because it involved quite a bit of planning and problem-solving, which are skills used quite a lot in the land use field. If you have that planning and problem-solving itch and your regular fare of teaching and research aren't satisfying that itch, you might find law school administration to be a good fit.
Another aspect of the position was working with and building consensus among a wide range of people with different and often competing interests, goals, and even sometimes values. It reminded me of the challenges of resolving multi-participant land use conflicts where competing interests and differing visions of a community's future require good interpersonal, negotiation, and even mediation skills.
What I didn't enjoy were the long hours (70 hours of work per week every week) and the necessity of having to make sacrifices in teaching and research in order to have a more balanced and sustainable life. Land use and related courses are distinctive parts of the law school curriculum, and I felt that the students would be getting short-changed if I were to pull back from the courses I teach, the time I devote to students, and continued innovation in our curriculum. Likewise, there are just so many important issues arising in land use, I just couldn't imagine putting my research agenda on hold, or even slowing it down, for a few years while I worked with schedules, adjuncts, grievances, workshops, and the like. The associate dean's job is important to the functioning of the law school and I felt very much valued and appreciated by the law school community for what I did this year. But in the end, I felt like I could contribute more by returning to teaching, research, and public service in land use, water, property, and the environment.
But I feel certain that there are a number of future associate deans, deans, and maybe even provosts and presidents out there among our land use professor colleagues. I would be glad to talk with you about administration if you want to know more about what it's like and what it takes. But most of all, I'm glad to be getting fully back into land use -- and to sharing some posts on the Land Use Prof blog.
Monday, June 13, 2011
For the first time, all the nation's Land Use Clinics gathered in the same room. Jamie Baker Roskie blogged about this after the Sustainably Grounded Conference at Pace. Better a month late than never to post a picture. It was a great conference!
From the left Kat Garvey (Vermont Law Land Use Clinic), Jennie Nolon (Pace Land Use Law Center), Jamie Baker Roskie (University of Georgia Land Use Clinic) and Michelle Bryan Mudd (University of Montana Land Use Clinic).
John Echeverria (Vermont Law) testified at the House Judiciary hearing. He said, “Only the most compelling national interest could justify such a massive, untimely intrusion into state policy-making, and the case for such an intrusion cannot be made here...approximately 40 states, four-fifths of all the states in the union, have now adopted some kind of post-Kelo reform measure. Some applaud the reform steps adopted, while others believe they have at least sometimes been misconceived. Some believe certain state legislatures have gone too far in curtailing the power of eminent domain, while others believe some states have not gone far enough or have abdicated their responsibility by not imposing any new constraints on this governmental power The bottom line, however, is that the state legislatures, as well as the voters in many state, have fully engaged on this issue.”