December 02, 2009
UGA Working in the Public Interest Conference/Panel on EJ
From the student organizing committee of UGA's annual WIPI conference. Note below that there will be a panel on environmental justice issues.
Save the Date! UGA Law’s Working in the Public Interest (“WIPI”) would like to invite you to attend the Fifth Annual "Working in the Public Interest: Advancing Social Justice" Conference on February 26-27, 2010.
The conference is not simply for those pursuing a career in public interest law. Whether that is your intended career path, or you plan on working in the private sector or in a non-traditional legal job—we welcome you! Not only is this a free opportunity for you to attend and participate in candid, progressive discussions of human rights issues, this is also a perfect networking opportunity—to meet fellow attorneys, professionals, and law students.
This two day event features panels and roundtable discussions with speakers drawn from all parts of the country. The conference will be held at the School of Law, and we will be offering CLE credits for attending attorneys. We can also arrange free housing for student attendees who would like to stay with other students here in Athens.
WIPI 2010 Panels:
•Prison Reform: Disentanglement from the Concrete Jungle
Issues Facing Former Inmates Struggling to Reintegrate into Society
•Environmental Justice: Not In My Backyard
The Disproportionate Impact of Pollution on Minority and Impoverished Communities
•Advocacy & Crossover Kids: When a Child Never Had a Chance
The Pipeline Carrying Children From Foster Care to Juvenile Delinquency
•LGBT: Don't Be a Hater!
When Hate Crimes Are Directed At Members of the LGBT Community
•Immigration: The Selective Melting Pot
Balancing the Competing Interests of our Nation and our Immigrants
WIPI 2010 Lunch Roundtables:
•Public Interest versus Private Practice: Why it Doesn’t Have to Be a Choice
•Education Advocacy in Public Interest: Lessons to be Learned
•Media Representation of the Public Interest: Is Seeing Really Believing?
*Coming soon to our website: keynote speaker information, lunch roundtable information, panel information, panelist information, photos from past conferences, electronic registration, and more! Please visit www.law.uga.edu/wipi/index.html.
Registration is FREE for all students! Registration (electronic) will open next month. If you have questions or concerns, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Working-In-the-Public-Interest-Law-Conference/33102024222.
If you’d like to receive posters/flyers to distribute, or would like to help us spread the word, please email us at email@example.com
Please feel free to distribute this email and its contents to other students, professors, or practitioners who may be interested in attending the conference. We look forward to seeing you there!
2009-2010 WIPI Executive Board
The UGA WIPI board always does a great job organizing this conference, and it's a good chance for public interest-minded students and practitioners to come together. I hope you all will share this information with your students.
Jamie Baker Roskie
November 24, 2009
Environmental Justice & Scrapyard Regulation
This is another in an occasional series of UGA Land Use Clinic student-authored posts. Today's guest blogger is Ryan H. Dodd, former Army JAG lawyer and current LL.M. Candidate in Environmental Law.
By way of background, the Newtown Community has been actively fighting these environmental justice issues for decades now. Because of the community’s location in the midst of the city’s industrial zone, many of the battles fought have been between the community and neighboring industrial businesses. Currently, the focus of attention has fallen on a neighboring scrap yard and the nuisance it is creating via fugitive dust and noise from its scrap processing operations. With regard to many of the other types of heavy industrial businesses near Newtown, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has been able to step in and regulate. This has been because these businesses are required to carry permits that are enforceable by EPD. Unfortunately, scrap recycling is one of those businesses, as I have found, that does not have any stringent regulation or permitting process. Therefore, the EPD has taken a hands-off approach, leaving it up to the local government to regulate.
Specifically, my involvement in this process has centered on the issue of code enforcement. I have looked at how similar issues have been handled throughout the nation. Not only is Georgia failing to regulate scrap yards, but so are most states. The exceptions are Florida, New Hampshire, and Indiana, which have enacted programs known as “Green Yards” and “Clean Yards” respectively that create an incentive-based system to get scrap yard owners to voluntarily comply with environmental laws and regulations. This is a potential model that we are looking at proposing in Georgia.
Another issue that I have been researching is the utilization of existing code enforcement for dealing with nuisances, particularly fugitive dust and noise. In the cases of Gainesville, these issues are enforced by the public works department. However, other municipalities use their health departments for enforcement of these issues and it appears that these are working quite effectively. This is because, in most cases, a health department has the knowledge base and tools to deal with nuisance issues. It will be interesting to see how receptive local governments will be to taking some new approaches to code enforcement. Many may continue to wrestle with budgetary constraints or personnel shortages. However, if a municipality is to truly deliver the best services it can to its citizens, then it is incumbent upon them to embrace new frameworks in order to competently address some of these old problems.
One thing that continually amazes me is how many communities in Georgia struggle with unregulated scrapyards creating nuisances and hazards. While these are outliers in an industry that generally provides a needed community service, it's enough of a problem that the clinic has taken this up as a project theme over many semesters. Let's hope that Georgia is willing to adopt a "Green Yards" or similar approach as a step in the right direction.
Jamie Baker Roskie
November 05, 2009
Atlanta is America's Most Toxic City
My colleague Helen Kang, director of the Environmental Justice Clinic at Golden Gate University, just sent me a link to this article on Forbes.com proclaiming Atlanta the nation's most toxic city. But, look out Matt Festa, Houston's hot on Atlanta's heels at number three on the list. Take heart, though, Matt. Houston's air is so polluted that it's become a world hot spot for air pollution research. It's always good to be cutting edge!
The article lauds New York as less toxic due to its excellent public transportation system (and related density) and Portland as a model of land use planning. This lends even more support to the premise of Professor Nolon's article, which I blogged about earlier today.
Jamie Baker Roskie
October 29, 2009
Presenting at the National Community Land Trust Network
As I posted earlier this week, the National Community Land Trust Network is having their annual conference here in Athens. Four UGA busloads of folks came over from the Atlanta airport Tuesday and Wednesday and they're all now safely ensconced at The Foundry Park Inn (part of which is, indeed, a rehabilitated foundry and a very cool historic structure).
This morning three of my colleagues and I gave a panel presentation on the land use issues faced by the Newtown Florist Club and Newtown Land Trust in Gainesville, Georgia. Newtown deserves a post (or several) of its own, but I'll save that for another day. Suffice it to say that Newtown Florist Club is a prominent environmental justice and civil rights organization in Georgia, and they have been the clinic's client for the last two years. We have been working with them on an interdisciplinary approach to solving environmental and land use problems in the Newtown neighborhood. Newtown served as a case study this morning for how community land trusts can engage with outside partners to address land use issues. Rose Johnson-Mackey of the Florist Club board spoke of the history of the neighborhood and how this predominantly African-American neighborhood became surrounded by industry. I spoke about the Clinic's efforts [give this data-rich link a couple of minutes to download] to convince the City of Gainesville to, among other things, enforce existing ordinances and improve industrial zoning regulations. Alfie Vick from UGA's College of Environment & Design spoke about how his landscape architecture students are using their community design skills to help the neighborhood create a vision for a better future, and plan a community garden. Dudley Hartle from the US Forest Service's Southern Center for Urban Forestry Research spoke about how concepts of green infrastructure can be applied in an urban neighborhood situation like Newtown.
We had some great dialogue with the participants about environmental justice, community organizing, rural planning, and how land trusts can play a role in creating sustainability. I think some interesting partnerships and data sharing will come out of today's interactions.
Jamie Baker Roskie
October 16, 2009
9th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference
From the good folks at EPA:
Conference registration is now open for the 9th Annual New Partners for
Smart Growth Conference, which will be held on February 4-6, 2010 in
The multi-disciplinary program will feature cutting-edge policies and
programs, projects, as well as strategies and implementation tools that
address the challenges of implementing smart growth development. Session
topics include climate change, equitable development, environmental
justice, public health, transportation, infrastructure, green jobs and
the economy, rural town planning, financing smart growth development,
open space preservation, retrofitting suburbs, affordable housing,
schools, critical water issues, green building, and much, much more.
Several sessions will be approved for AICP continuing education credits.
The conference agenda also includes special workshops, including a
one-day workshop on February 3, 2010 entitled "Working Together for
Equitable Development: Voices and Lessons from Environmental Justice and
Visit www.NewPartners.org for detailed information on the conference
program, tours of model projects, special workshops, invited speakers,
hotel information, and to REGISTER NOW!
I'm fascinated about the track on EJ and Smart Growth - it's an encouraging sign!
October 08, 2009
Environmental Justice & Land Use
Tomorrow in the Land Use Clinic seminar we'll be talking about environmental justice. The Clinic got involved in environmental justice issues about two years ago, at the request of our colleagues at the Atlanta public interest law firm GreenLaw. GreenLaw has been involved in environmental justice issues for many years now - environmental justice being defined by the EPA as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, culture, education, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies." GreenLaw asked for the Clinic's help in working for environmental justice in the drafting and application of local land use law in Georgia communities.
According to Clifford Rechtschaffen and Eileen Gauna, authors of Environmental Justice: Law, Policy & Regulation, the disproportionate siting of environmental hazards in minority neighborhoods has its origin in land use and zoning practices over the last century. Some of the decisions were based on deliberate racism - e.g., restrictive racial covenants and racially discriminatory zoning. Urban Renewal played a role in displacing thousands of black residents from residential neighborhoods.
Also, according to Yale Rabin, in the early part of the last century many jurisdictions engaged in what he calls "expulsive zoning," by zoning areas predominantly occupied mainly by blacks for industrial or commercial uses, thus displacing the residential uses in these zones. Robert Bullard refers to this strategy as "PIBBY" or "place-in-blacks'-backyards."
Other scholars, including Robin Saha and Paul Mohai, have pointed to economic factors in disproportionate siting and zoning of industrial uses in minority neighorhoods, including low property values in these areas and the reduced likelihood of community opposition (since better educated, more affluent communities are better able to wage opposition campaigns).
Rechtschaffen and Gauna also implicate "structural racism," which encompasses more than explicit racism, classism or political factors:
A broader view of discrimination encompasses actions that are not intentionally racist, but because of the structure or workings of social and political institutions, have discriminatory effects. For example, an all white zoning board may render decisions with discriminatory effects because of unconscious racial prejudices, or because minority citizens, who do not live in the same neighborhoods and are not part of the same social networks as the board members, have less access to them...seemingly technical criteria - such as that a facility should not be sited in proximity to schools, hospitals, or other sensitive institutions - can discriminate against minority residents who because of past and present housing discrimination disproportionately live in areas without such facilities.
Whatever the varied causes, research by John A. Hird and Michael Reese and others demonstrates that, regardless of class or income, pollution is distributed in a way that disproportionately affects people of color (although some subsequent research refutes these findings).
It's a complicated issue. I'll talk about solutions to these problems that we are trying to implement with our clients in subsequent posts.
Jamie Baker Roskie