Thursday, February 24, 2011
Like yesterday's featured article from Cityscape, Marie Howland's (U. Md.- Planning)The Private Market for Brownfield Properties also takes advantage of Baltimore's industrial heritage to track brownfield sales. Here's the abstract:
This study examines land sales over a 10-year period - 1990 to 2000 - in one southwest Baltimore industrial district - Carroll Camden - to determine the effect of land contamination on property sales and sales price. I tracked all sales, selling price, time on the market, and the presence of land contamination in the 5,580-acre area. The results indicate that after the mid-1990s, contaminated parcels sold on the private market, with price discounts that accounted for contamination and cleanup. Out of the 144 parcels sold over the 1990-to-2000 decade, positive and market-clearing prices were found for 45 parcels with either confirmed or historical-reasons-to-suspect contamination. Interviews with owners and brokers of parcels on the market for 2 years or more and analysis of the data indicate that the contaminated parcels that did not sell within the 2-year period (1) had above-market asking price; (2) were small and odd-shaped; (3) had inadequate road access for modern trucks; (4) had outdated water, sewer, and telecommunications connections; or (5) had incompatible surrounding land uses. Two policy implications result from these findings. First, if a city such as Baltimore wants to revitalize an industrial area - maintaining its industrial function and remediating contamination - government-subsidized cleanups may not be the most cost-effective policy. Rather, the city should (1) modernize the outdated infrastructure, including roads and fiber optic connections; (2) remove the outdated residential structures that sit in the midst of the industrial area and diminish the desirability of some land parcels for industrial use; (3) consolidate small and odd-shaped properties that are not conducive to modern manufacturing, warehousing, or other industrial uses; (4) ensure city services are efficiently provided, including trash cleanup and police and fire protection; and (5) improve access and egress for modern trucking. The evidence from the Baltimore study indicates that the private sector will discount land prices and assume cleanup responsibilities. The second policy implication is that the market is capable of brownfield cleanup in some locations.
February 24, 2011 in Community Economic Development, Development, Economic Development, Environmental Justice, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, HUD, Nuisance, Redevelopment, Scholarship, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
A recent issue of HUD's Cityscape journal contains several articles on land use and remediation of environmental contamination. The first featured here is Voluntary Cleanup Programs and Redevelopment Potential: Lessons from Baltimore, Maryland by Dennis Guignet and Anna Alberini (both U. Md.--Ag. & Resource Econ.). Here's the abstract:
In the United States, policy has increasingly shifted toward economic incentives and liability attenuation for promoting cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites, but little is known about the effectiveness of such policies. These policies include, among others, state Voluntary Cleanup Programs (VCPs), which were established in the United States in the 1990s and, to date, have been implemented in nearly every state. This article focuses on 116 Baltimore properties that were enrolled and participated in the Maryland VCP from its inception in 1997 to the end of 2006 and examines what type of properties tend to participate in these programs, how these properties compare with other eligible but nonparticipating sites, and what the redevelopment potential of VCP properties and implications is toward open-space conversion.
We find that most applicants (66 percent) actually requested a No Further Requirements Determination directly, rather than proposing cleanup. Nevertheless, the VCP led to the identification and environmental assessment of 1,175 acres of contaminated land in the city of Baltimore alone. In Baltimore, VCP properties tend to be industrial, located in areas zoned as industrial, and away from residential neighborhoods. In more recent years, larger properties have increasingly enrolled in the program. Most participating sites are reused as industrial or commercial properties. In contrast with Alberini (2007), these findings suggest that, in Baltimore, pressure for residential development has not driven VCP participation to date. Based on differences in zoning requirements, the VCP may reduce demand for potentially contaminating activities on pristine land by as much as 1,238 to 6,444 acres, in Baltimore alone.
February 23, 2011 in Community Economic Development, Development, Economic Development, Environmental Justice, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, HUD, Industrial Regulation, Nuisance, Redevelopment, Scholarship, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Perhaps I am late to the game on this one, but I just saw the trailer for a documentary about the Atlantic Yards controversy. The movie, called Battle of Brooklyn, tells the story of Brooklyn's use of eminent domain to build a sports arena. I am a big fan of eminent domain (hmm.. not sure if that is the right way to put it), but will likely see this movie that appears to focus on the protesters.
The main protester that the film follows actually agreed to a $3 million settlement and moved out. I wonder if they include that tidbit.
- Jessica Owley
February 17, 2011 in Affordable Housing, Community Economic Development, Constitutional Law, Development, Economic Development, Eminent Domain, Environmental Justice, New York, Property Rights | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Carmen Gonzalez (Seattle) has posted Climate Change, Food Security, and Agrobiodiversity: Toward a Just, Resilient, and Sustainable Food System. Here's the abstract:
The global food production system is in a state of profound crisis. Decades of misguided aid, trade and production policies have resulted in an unprecedented erosion of agrobiodiversity that renders the world’s food supply vulnerable to catastrophic crop failure in the event of drought, heavy rains, and outbreaks of pests and disease. Climate change threatens to wreak additional havoc on food production by increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, depressing agricultural yields, reducing the productivity of the world’s fisheries, and placing pressure on scarce water resources. Furthermore, the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are occurring at a time of rising global food insecurity. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 1.05 billion people currently suffer from chronic hunger – a figure that represents one sixth of humanity.
This article examines the underlying causes of the crises in the global food system, and recommends specific measures that might be adopted to address the distinct but related problems of food insecurity, loss of agrobiodiversity, and climate change. The article concludes that the root cause of the crises confronting the global food system is corporate domination of the food supply and the systemic destruction of local food systems that are healthy, ecologically sustainable, and socially just. The article argues that small-scale sustainable agriculture has the potential to address the interrelated climate, food, and agrobiodiversity crises, and suggests specific measures that the international community might take through law and regulation to promote sustainable agricultural production.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
This is the characterisation of a development project in central London, near the Elephant & Castle, where social housing is being demolished in the name of regeneration, to be replaced by privately owned accomodation with 25% protected as 'affordable'. The project was initiated by the Liberal Democrat majority on Southwark Council and is now being implemented by the currently Labour controlled council. (Both are parties that have conventionally been understood as being on the left of British politics).
These projects are public-private collaborations, at their simplest, the public authority applies for the permissions (particularly for compulsory purchase of the existing properties) while the developer (here (essentially) the Australian-based Lend Lease) provides the cash. There are clear analogies with the approach upheld in Kelo (although here there is no outrage on legal grounds) and there is little doubt that this development will be built. The 'decanting' of existing socially housed residents is already underway, either by buying them out or by re-housing council tenants 'nearby'.
One reason given for the regeneration is aesthetic, with proponents arguing that brutalist architecture brutalises people. There is certainly wide agreement that Heygate is not an objectively attractive development. Yet residents emphasise the extent of community spirit on the estate.
A further justification for redevelopment has been that this prime piece of real estate provided relatively spacious accommodation with significant green space, which should be developed more intensively with the majority available for private ownership. Indeed, the specification for the re-build is such that the project was selected as one of Bill Clinton's 17 'climate positive' neighbourhood developments.
So it will be a 'climate positive' example of 'state-sponsored, de-greening gentrification'.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Carolina Academic Press has just released the 4th edition of Housing and Community Development: Cases and Materials (Amazon has a substantial preview). Barbara Bezdek (Maryland) has joined the already prominent list of eight community development and law professor editors. The first revision in more than eleven years clearly bears the imprint of Barbara’s hard work. New excerpted material puts the very timely topic of revitalization front and center and includes post-Kelo redevelopment, vacant building receivership (full disclosure, this one’s mine), tenants of foreclosure properties, Peñalver and Katyal on Property Outlaws.
January 8, 2011 in Affordable Housing, Books, Community Economic Development, Development, Economic Development, Eminent Domain, Federal Government, Financial Crisis, Housing, Planning, Property, Property Rights, Race, Redevelopment, Sustainability, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Friday, December 31, 2010
We are very glad to announce that Prof. James J. Kelly, Jr. is joining us as an Editor of the Land Use Prof Blog. Jim has been an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Community Development Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law. In the Spring of 2011, he will be a Visiting Professor at Washington & Lee. I'm also pleased to announce that Jim has accepted a permanent position beginning in the Fall of 2011 as a Clinical Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School, where he will direct a new community development project. I'm really glad to see that Notre Dame will be bringing Jim on board--to the campus where his now brother-in-law was my freshman roomate back in 1991 (small world dept.).
Jim is an expert in community development law and practice, and has written extensively on the topic of land trusts for affordable housing: see his pieces Homes Affordable for Good and Land Trusts that Conserve Communities. He went to UVa and Columbia and has extensive experience with community-based nonprofits. As we mentioned last week, Jim and his clinic played an important role in the recent passage of Maryland's Affordable Housing Land Trust Act. Jim guest-blogged with us last summer, and it's great to have him here in 2011.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
James J. Kelly, Jr. (Baltimore; Washington & Lee (visiting)) has posted Maryland's Affordable Housing Land Trust Act, recently published in the Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law, Vol. 19, p. 345, Spring/Summer 2010. The abstract:
On May 20, 2010, Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley, signed the Affordable Housing Land Trust Act (AHLT Act) into law. Its enactment marked the culmination of six years of advocacy by the University of Baltimore Community Development Clinic and by the Maryland Asset Building and Community Development Network. The AHLT Act authorizes a new method of creating and sustaining permanently affordable homeownership. By using the affordable housing land trust agreements outlined in the legislation, Maryland nonprofits and governmental agencies may now enter into enforceable long-term agreements with publicly subsidized low- and moderate-income homeowners to ensure that their homes remain affordable to other income-qualified homebuyers in the future. With the development of this essential tool for the creation of permanently affordable homes, Maryland has addressed key obstacles to preserving the affordable housing gains it has made through its pioneering efforts in community-based nonprofit housing development and inclusionary zoning.
This article will explore the legal obstacles that advocates of permanently affordable homeownership in Maryland faced prior to this year’s statutory amendments, the dialogue that produced the final bill, and the way forward for permanently affordable housing in Maryland and elsewhere. Part I will give background about efforts to create permanently affordable homes and the difficulties presented by several legal doctrines common to many states and one unique to Maryland. Focusing on the legislation itself, Part II will describe the advocacy effort and stakeholder dialogue as well as the resulting bill that addressed a variety of concerns raised by the indefinite dedication of land to affordable homeownership. Part III will discuss how existing models of resale restrictions used by community land trust and inclusionary zoning programs can be adapted to meet the affordable housing land trust approach outlined in the statute. The article concludes with a discussion about the value of possible changes in the law of other states to support stewardship of housing affordability.
This is a significant real world legislative achievement, and is due in large part to the efforts of Prof. Kelly and his University of Baltimore Community Development Clinic, so be sure to check out the article. You may remember Jim's excellent guest-blogging for us last summer; we might be hearing more from him very soon (hint, hint).
December 29, 2010 in Affordable Housing, Community Design, Community Economic Development, Housing, Land Trust, Planning, Politics, Real Estate Transactions, Scholarship, State Government | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Robert B. Avery & Kenneth P. Brevoort (Federal Reserve) have posted The Subprime Crisis: How Much Did Lender Regulation Matter? The abstract:
The recent subprime crisis has spawned a growing literature suggesting that regulatory preferences for lower-income borrowers and neighborhoods, embodied by the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and affordable housing goals for the Government Sponsored Enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs), may have caused or contributed to the crisis. For the most part, the empirical analyses presented in this literature have been based on associations between aggregated national trends. In this paper we examine more directly the links between these regulations and outcomes in the mortgage market, including measures of loan quality and delinquency rates. Our analysis has two components. The first component focuses mainly on the CRA. We argue that historical legacies create significant variations in the type of lenders that serve otherwise equal neighborhoods and that, because not all lenders are subject to the CRA, this creates a quasi-natural experiment of the impact of the CRA. The second component of our analysis uses all lenders but takes advantage of the fact that both the CRA and GSE goals rely on clearly defined geographic areas to determine which loans are favored by the regulations and which are not. Using a regression discontinuity approach, our tests compare the marginal areas just above and below the thresholds that define eligibility. We argue that if the CRA or GSE goals had an impact, it should be clearest at this point. We find little evidence that either the CRA or the GSE goals played a significant role in the subprime crisis. Our lender tests indicate that areas disproportionately served by lenders covered by the CRA show less, not more, evidence of risky lending or ultimately higher mortgage delinquency rates. Similarly, the threshold tests show no evidence of a regulatory effect.
December 23, 2010 in Community Economic Development, Federal Government, Financial Crisis, Mortgage Crisis, Mortgages, Politics, Real Estate Transactions, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Monday, December 20, 2010
Tim Iglesias (San Fransisco) sends word that he has posted State and Local Regulation of Particular Types of Affordable Housing, forthcoming in The Legal Guide to Affordable Housing Development, Tim Iglesias & Rochelle E. Lento, eds. (American Bar Ass'n 2011). The abstract:
This chapter is part of "The Legal Guide to Affordable Housing Development", a practical guidebook covering most important areas of law that apply to affordable housing development. This chapter analyzes a wide variety of state and local regulation affecting the development of several types of affordable housing which are neither traditional single family nor multi-family. Specifically, the chapter discusses statutes, ordinances, regulations and leading case law concerning the siting of manufactured housing (Section II), farmworker housing (Section III), accessory or secondary units (Section IV), single room occupancy hotels (SROs) (Section V), condominium conversion regulation (Section VI), and emergency shelters and transitional housing, including domestic violence shelters (Section VII).
Sounds like a very helpful overview of the crucial state and local government role in affordable housing. The book looks like a great resource; Prof. Iglesias indicates that it will be out in May 2011 at the annual conference of the ABA Forum on Housing and Community Development Law in D.C.
December 20, 2010 in Affordable Housing, Books, Community Economic Development, Conferences, Development, Housing, Local Government, Scholarship, State Government | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
From the Conservative Blogger, a post (with accompanying photo) about how the children's play area at the Salt Lake City airport inadvertently (or cleverly) replicates the typical planning dilemas of a small town. My favorites:
Underutilized Downtown: Even without those dirty deeds by developers to bring a Walmart to town, the downtown is suffering from a lack of businesses and street life. The town’s goal to bring artists and boutique shops was never realized due to personality conflicts between the local planning board and the chamber of commerce...
City Park: The park is unfortunately located on an environmentally-degraded site on the edge of town, the result of a manufacturing plant that skipped town 20 years ago and left the town without a major employer or a business generator for the freight railroad.
Surface Parking Lot: The downtown merchants complained of a parking problem downtown after years of being in a state of denial over their employees occupying parking spaces on Main Street, prohibiting shoppers from accessing their stores. The town spent millions to acquire land on the edge of downtown to build a non-descript parking facility that is rarely used except by vagrants wishing to make drug deals.
For those of you who travel to or live in the mountain west, next time you fly through Salt Lake check out this "emerging planning conundrum" near the E Gates.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Monday, September 13, 2010
The Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, & Public Policy has published a Symposium on Urban Development in the 21st Century: Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, Volume 24, Number 1, 2010.
FOREWORD: A New Urban Vision for a New Urban Reality, Adolfo Carrión, Jr., p. 1
On Public Plaintiffs and Private Harms: The Standing of Municipalities in Climate Change, Firearms, and Financial Crisis Litigation, Raymond H. Brescia, p.7
Can Urban Solar Become a "Disruptive" Technology?: The Case for Solar Utilities, Joel B. Eisen, p.53
American Cities as Firms in the 21st Century—Or, Should Philadelphia Move to New Jersey? Richardson Dilworth, p.99
The Order-Maintenance Agenda as Land Use Policy, Nicole Stelle Garnett, p.131
Four Land Use Vignettes from Unzoned(?) Houston, John Mixon, p.159
An Urban Slice of Apple Pie: Rethinking Homeownership in U.S. Cities, Georgette Chapman Phillips, p.187
Justice and the Just Compensation Clause: A New Approach to Economic Development Takings, John T. Goodwin, p.219
Old Shtetlism and New Urbanism: Uncovering the Implications of Suburban Zoning Laws for Community Life through the Jewish-American Experience, Amir Steinhart, p.255
It looks like a fascinating group of pieces. Now if only they could beat Michigan.
September 13, 2010 in Community Economic Development, Development, Economic Development, Eminent Domain, Environmental Law, Housing, Houston, Local Government, Property, Scholarship, Takings, Urbanism, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, August 19, 2010
THE UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO COLLEGE OF LAW seeks to fill an entry level, tenure-track faculty position beginning in the Fall of 2011 at its Boise, Idaho satellite campus contingent upon approval of the position by the University’s Board of Regents. The successful candidate will supervise a new Economic Development Clinical Program. This program will serve state and local governmental entities, tribal governments and non-profit organizations. The clinical program will focus on economic development particularly as it pertains to land use planning and other economic development needs of local governments. This new clinical program will collaborate with the existing small business legal clinic and low-income taxpayer clinic at the University of Idaho. It will also collaborate with other University of Idaho programs providing outreach to local governments in the area of economic development. Related non-clinic teaching assignments could also include State Constitutional Law and Legislation. Applicants must have a distinguished academic record and post J.D. practice, clerking and/or teaching experience, must show promise as excellent teachers and productive scholars. Candidates with prior clinical teaching experience and those with a demonstrated commitment to community economic development issues will be preferred.
The College of Law, which has the exclusive statewide mission in Idaho public legal education, is embarked upon an innovative expansion of its program from its home campus in Moscow (in the northern Idaho panhandle) to Boise, the state capital and a growing population and economic center of the state. As part of this expansion it has established a satellite campus in Boise, Idaho at which students may complete their third year of law school. The successful applicant for this position will be part of the Boise law program. In addition to clinical programs, the Boise program presently includes a curriculum focused on business and entrepreneurship a concurrent JD M.S in Acct. (Taxation Emphasis) with Boise State University, and the College’s Externship and Semester-in-Practice programs. A commitment to and experience relevant to assisting the College with the expansion of its Boise program will be favorably considered. Information about the College of Law is available on its website at http://www.law.uidaho.edu . Interested persons should either apply online at www.hr.uidaho.edu or send a letter of application and resume listing three references by regular mail or email to Professor and Associate Dean Elizabeth Brandt, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of Idaho College of Law, PO Box 442321, Moscow, Idaho 83844-2321, email@example.com .
The Committee will begin reviewing applications on September 15, 2010 and will continue until the position is filled. Priority will be given to applications received before November 1, 2010. The University of Idaho is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. The University has an institution-wide commitment to diversity, human rights, multiculturalism and community. It expresses that commitment by actively recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and student body, and by building and sustaining a welcoming, supportive campus environment.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
My first day of class is Friday, so I thought I'd sneak in one last summer-break-inspired post before getting down to business. On a flight to California last month my husband, Neal Anderson (Rolfer and architect-extraordinaire) sat next to ESPN soccer (er, football) writer Jeff Carlisle. Jeff had recently returned from covering the World Cup in South Africa and, among other topics, they discussed the possible post World Cup uses of all the soccer stadiums built around SA.
"It's not about whether they'll be used, it's whether they will be financially viable in terms of maintenance costs," said Phillip Harrison, a member of the South African government's National Planning Commission. "I think there is a legitimate concern about whether they'll bring in sufficient income given the fact that these areas are already financially stretched."
Officials in South Africa understand the potential risks they've brought upon themselves. They've seen abandoned Olympic venues blight Athens. They know that even Beijing has had trouble luring events to its infamous Bird's Nest stadium. But South Africa remains hopeful. For the host cities, these stadia are seen as springboards for development. But there's also the distinct danger that they could become unsustainable money pits. It's too soon to say which is the case today. But it will probably take only a few years to see if the cities are able to jump on those opportunities, or if they'll fall victim to their grandiose but potentially short-sighted World Cup investments.
Stadium projects are almost always controversial. Closer to home there's been a lot of media attention on the new stadium for an Atlanta Braves farm team in nearby Gwinnett County. It's interesting how the dynamic around stadiums seems so consistent from project to project. In a place like South Africa, with such historic inequity, it seems like a potentially more loaded problem, but the issues aren't so different in more affluent communities.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Monday, August 16, 2010
While a Blackstonian view of property envisaged a "despotic dominion" of an owner over a thing, property has never been so absolute. In fact, as I argue in this paper, the nature of property has been culturally constructed and property means different thinks across cultures and even over time within the same culture. The question of the nature of property was highlighted for me when a student questioned whether equity limitations placed on homes purchased by low income buyers using subsidized public financing created a "second class" form of homeownership.Matt Festa
In attempting to answer this question, I examined the ideas of property and ownership over various cultures and then concentrated on those ideas in the American cultural, legal and political history. After examining the various views of property in America, I examine the reality of property ownership and the restrictions on such ownership in today’s legal and political milieu. I conclude by suggesting that the equity restrictions associated with some publicly financed mortgages are not different in kind from other restrictions on property generally that are widely accepted in society. Finally, I suggest that a concept of property might be broadened to include the reasonable expectations of future potential users. Thus, a recognized principle such as stewardship might give property like entitlements to generations of low income persons who will be seeking decent affordable housing in the future.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
With fewer and fewer Americans able to obtain a mortgage, more are turning toward rentals. Unfortunately, as this article shows, the stigma of rental units is so bad that it can undermine even what little development opportunity still exists in the current economic downturn.
The author asks two important questions (and follows with an astute observation):
[I]f city after city continues to shoot down economically viable rental housing projects, where exactly we are going to accommodate the expected growth in this country in the coming decades? Furthermore, why are cash-strapped cities passing up economic development opportunities? I’m all for local decision-making, but the result of these decisions, multiplied across our metro areas, simply pushes more growth to the urban fringe — an ecologically and economically wasteful choice.
Rather than treat rental units as some sort of plague (an oh-so-very retro-Euclid way of thinking), cities should consider how they can better regulate rental development in the new real estate paradigm that the Great Recession has brought. The option of "just saying no" to rentals neglects both the reality of the future need for non-mortgaged housing and the fallacy that rentals cannot be well done from a design and planning perspective.
--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Patricia Salkin (Albany) and Amy Lavine (Albany) have posted Community Benefits Agreements and Comprehensive Planning: Balancing Community Empowerment and the Police Power, forthcoming in the Journal of Law and Policy. The abstract:
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
This weekend is the always-excellent annual meeting of the Law & Society Association in Chicago. I haven't scoured the program, but there is sure to be a plethora of interesting panels and events. I do have firsthand knowledge, however, of one particular land-use panel that is guaranteed to present fascinating projects from interesting up-and-coming scholars.
Panel: Fri., May 28, 12:30-2:15
Chair: James J. Kelly, Jr. (University of Baltimore)
The Effects of SmartGrowth on the Preservation of Historic Resources, William J. Cook (Charleston School of Law)
Debtors' Environmental Impact: Structured Finance and the Suburbanization of Open Space, Heather Hughes (American University)
Sustainability and the Practice of Community Development, James J. Kelly, Jr. (University of Baltimore)
The Artifice of Local Growth Politics: At-Large Elections, Ballot Box Zoning, and Judicial Review of Land Use Initiatives, Kenneth Stahl (Chapman University)
May 26, 2010 in Charleston, Chicago, Community Economic Development, Conferences, Environmental Law, Finance, Financial Crisis, Historic Preservation, Local Government, Politics, Scholarship, Smart Growth, Suburbs, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Monday, May 24, 2010
Heather K. Way (Texas) has posted Informal Homeownership in the United States and the Law, from St. Louis University Public Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 1 (2009). The abstract:
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
This blog post is by guest blogger and UGA 3L (and recent Land Use Clinic alumna) Catherine Mattingly.
The Five Points area in Athens, Georgia is a small-scale mixed-use area in this historic college town. Restaurants, clothing stores, coffee shops, even a grocery store, are located along South Lumpkin, which is the main street of this historic area that takes its name from the five-way intersection at the corner of Lumpkin and Milledge. Next to this cluster of shops lie residential neighborhoods. The district is in theory the perfect place to park one’s car and spend the rest of the day running errands, meeting with friends, attending yoga class, etc. Because these stores are within walking distance of one another, there is really no reason to drive from place to place.
However, you may have noticed that I said “in theory.” Currently, parking in one place and spending the day shopping throughout Five Points isn’t possible. With the exception of a few informal parking agreements between neighboring store owners and a few spots lining Lumpkin Street (which only permit limited time parking), the general rule in the area is that a store patron must be parked in the lot of the respective business he or she is visiting. A frequent visitor to Five Points, I have been burdened by this rule many times. When my Land Use Professor Christian Turner spoke of this problem as a potential paper topic I jumped on board, wanting to learn more about a problem that has hindered the overall appeal of the area. While the solution of shared parking is simple, creating a successful strategy for an entire district that will be adaptable as businesses change over time can be extremely difficult. One must consider the current local ordinances and their restrictions on parking, the local Comprehensive Plan, the total number of spaces as well as potential for new spaces, peak hours for the varying businesses, and the general overall character of the area.
After researching shared parking generally, I emailed most of the store owners in Five Points asking for their thoughts on the matter. Overall, most of the owners and managers with whom I spoke supported shared parking, provided it supplied enough spots for their individual use. A few owners shared that they felt their business suffered at certain times of the day because there was simply no available parking. After interviewing these people, I looked for case studies of shared parking strategies that had already been implemented or studied throughout the country. I found that the primary consideration in the success of a shared parking strategy is whether there are different peak parking hours between stores. The significance behind this factor is that if businesses have varying busy hours, then there are likely spaces available at one nearby store when another is crowded. Therefore, by simply making agreements with other businesses to share spaces during certain times of the day, available spots can be increased without having to actually add any additional spaces. These private agreements can exist in the form of revocable licenses, or appurtenant easements or covenants could also be used.
While agreements such as those mentioned above can be achieved by simple agreements between business owners, a successful district-wide shared parking solution likely calls for control of all available parking by the city. To achieve this, I suggest creating an overlay district. This district would eliminate the need to follow any current parking restrictions in the Athens-Clarke County Code. In addition to adding additional limited-time parking in the area, a parking deck could also be constructed. Alternatively, a larger parking lot could be created by combining many of the smaller lots located behind the old homes that have been turned into local businesses. To give the city the right to control parking, each owner could deed his spaces to the city. Alternatively, a temporary lease agreement could be implemented, but this could hinder construction of permanent changes such as the large lot or deck. These parking options could be geared not just toward immediately neighboring business, but to patrons in the entire area.
In addition to providing additional available spaces to store patrons, shared parking has other benefits. Changing the character of parking in the area could help to change the nature of the district as a whole. For instance, the area would necessarily become more pedestrian-friendly, as visitors are expected to park their cars and walk throughout the district. The city could also take this opportunity to add more green space to the area. Thus, establishing shared parking would assist in making visiting the area not only more convenient, but also safer and more aesthetically pleasing. As space becomes an increasingly important commodity, older districts can retrofit their communities to increase the convenience and attractiveness of the area. Increased revenues will hopefully follow as patrons find these stores easier to visit.
Overall, in researching this issue, I have been reminded of how dynamic local land use issues such as parking truly are. Implementing shared parking will certainly be difficult, but the ability of the area to adapt to change could be crucial for its success, especially in its competition with downtown Athens.
First, I'd like to give props to my UGA colleague Christian Turner for having his Land Use Planning students work on practical projects in the doctrinal class. Second, having read and considered Catherine's paper I congratulate her on excellent work on applying land use concepts to a real, local problem. I shop at the stores and practice at the yoga studio she mentions, so I also struggle with the parking issues. However, I hadn't considered the lots behind the old houses retrofit as shops as a good joint parking lot, but it really is. I hope to promote Catherine's solution locally as a way to create a better pedestrian environment in what should be one of Athens' truly walkable neighborhoods.
Jamie Baker Roskie