Friday, January 28, 2011
The Urbanophile shares a story by James Griffioen called Yes, there are Grocery Stores in Detroit. Griffioen is responding to the oft-repeated assertion that the city of Detroit--still the 11th largest city in America with over 800,000 people--does not have any major national chain grocery stores in the city. This asserted fact is often invoked to illustrate arguments about urban decline, problematic land use arrangements, Detroit's particularly sad problems, and the current focus on the link between poverty and health and obesity in urban areas. Griffioen says that the narrative of grocery-less Detroit is . . . a canard (he uses a more pungent term involving bovine scatology).
In the time I’ve lived in Detroit, I’ve come to realize that the most sensational claims and the public perception they create often have little to do with the day-to-day reality of being a Detroiter. This is a complicated city, and even in the most sincere efforts to cull some truth from it, visiting journalists often end up spreading damaging falsehoods.
One of the most annoying is that Detroit has no grocery stores. . . .
What surprises most people who've heard that there are no grocery stores in Detroit is that there are actually independent stores far more appealing than any chain. One of the nicest grocery stores in Detroit is Honeybee La Colmena (I wrote an extensive profile about the store here). Honeybee is owned and operated by individuals who grew up and still live in the neighborhood where the store is located and they have created dozens of jobs for their neighbors. Honeybee has some of the best produce and prepared foods in the metro area, and it is actually a Detroit supermarket where people from the suburbs come into the city to shop.
Griffioen acknowledges that there are indeed parts of Detroit that are underserved by the market, but it is important to note that cities are often much more complex than any attempt to reduce them to a generalized observation or metaphor.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Just in time for today's (my one and only) class dealing with water law . . . the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday about the concept of "beneficial use" in the Western states' prior appropriation approach ("first come, first served" per Chief Justice Roberts) to water law. The case seems to hinge on whether or not Wyoming is in violation of a compact signed by Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota if less water is being returned now to the Yellowstone River basin by Wyoming irrigation systems than was being returned in 1950, the date for the "beneficial use" benchmark. In 2008, the Court appointed Buzz Thompson (Stanford) as special master for the matter. Today's NY Times article suggests that the Court, which has original and exclusive jurisdiction over the matter, is skeptical of Montana's complaint.
In the UK, today was the last day for objections to an application for planning permission submitted by Nocton Dairies’ to build a ‘a US-style ‘mega’ dairy farm’ in rural Lincolnshire for a 3,770 cow dairy unit, dwarfing the average herd that has no more than a few hundred cows. An extraordinary 70,000+ objectors have objected to the proposed development, even though the new farm has reduced the number of cows it proposes to keep (the initial application was for 8,100) and despite impressive commitments to reduce carbon emissions in milk production.
While there are many concerns, objectors link two particularly resonant strands of opposition. The first is that a dairy farm of this size is out of place in the English countryside, the second is that keeping the cows inside, without letting them graze in the fresh air, infringes British beliefs in animal welfare. While much milk is imported into the United Kingdom from elsewhere in the EU, consumers have demonstrated a continuing desire for local dairy products and all the major supermarkets have stated that they would not sell Nocton’s milk in their stores. Campaigners and retailers alike have drawn on understandings of rurality, locality and an understanding of British (as opposed to American) farming to suggest that ‘if this proposal goes through it would not only have a disastrous effect on the well-being of the animals, but will potentially allow other factory farms in to change British farming and our countryside forever’.
As one campaign group puts it (drawing on a British love of tea), ‘Would you drink factory milk from battery cows? Not in my cuppa.’
Friday, January 7, 2011
I’m getting ready to start teaching Johnson v. M’Intosh in Property on Monday. I like the choice by the Dukeminier book website to look at the Iroquois three-crop agrarian culture to challenge the hunter-gatherer generalization about Native American land use; but, I think the point about the variety of Native relationships to land could be strengthened by showing just how closely some indigenous land tenure systems resembled European feudalism.
My own law-school-days study of Aztec land ownership showed me a complex scheme of plot allotments to small family groups with other parcels set aside for the economic benefit of aristocratic, military and clerical castes. Iroquois and Huron farming economies also depended on allotment to female clan members. The historical record strongly controverts Locke’s defense of acquisition by discovery/conquest.
I would love to hear about anyone bringing Pre-Columbian land use patterns into their teaching or writing. I think it offers many possibilities for teaching on sustainability, female land tenure and the fundamental connection between how we get our food and how we relate to land.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Chad has a great post below on the latest craze, food trucks. By coincidence, just yesterday I saw this SSRN paper by Ernesto Hernandez Lopez (Chapman): LA’s Taco Truck War: How Law Cooks Food Culture Contests. The abstract:
This paper examines the Los Angeles “Taco Truck War” (2008-9), when the city of Los Angeles and LA county used parking regulations to restrict “loncheros,” i.e. “taco trucks.” It describes the legal doctrine used by courts to invalidate these local restrictions. The California Vehicle code makes local food truck regulations illegal. Decades of court decisions affirm this. The paper sheds light, legal and cultural, on food truck debates, which will surely expand nationwide. It examines: the cultural and business arguments for food truck regulations; food’s role in migrant, community, and national identities; Mexican food’s influence in California culture; and recent trends in food trucks such as Koggi BBQ.
And from earlier this year, Alfonso Morales (Urban & Regional Planning, Wisconsin) and Gregg W. Kettles (Law, Mississippi College) posted Healthy Food Outside: Farmers' Markets, Taco Trucks, and Sidewalk Fruit Vendors, published in the Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, Vol. 20 (2009). The abstract:
This paper explores the many dimensions of street vending and public markets, the multiple intersections vending and markets have with food regulation, and the historical connection markets have with other policy problems. We develop the article in four parts, following the introduction found in section one the article touches on three elements of law and public policy. The second section considers markets and merchants in public goods with their associated dilemmas. Our approach is to reconfigure the emphasis on public space as transportation by justifying the use of the street and sidewalk for street vending. The importance of public space for commerce and other creative activities bridges the second and third sections of the article. The third section chronicles the history of law and regulation around street and public markets. Here we emphasize how cities historically used public markets as public policy tools to address food security, employment, and to help those growing cities accommodate new immigrants. The fourth section focuses on public health by examining the law of outdoor food sold on the street. Through our analysis we set forth numerous suggestions for advocacy, policy, and legal reform.
Chad's right, food trucks are becoming a big deal. I was skeptical at first, but it looks like they have come a long way from the "roach coaches" I remember on Army posts. Check out the articles that he linked to, and for an even less highbrow alternative you can watch the Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race (you know that a trend has arrived when it gets a reality show). It's a serious question, though, how cities are going to choose to accommodate or regulate this phenomenon through their land use laws.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Last week Jamie posted about the "Sprawlanta" video, part of the project American Makeover: An Online Film Series about New Urbanism. "Sprawlanta" won first prize at last year's Congress for the New Urbanism video competition.
Is New Urbanism the prescription for healthier communities? Increasing scientific evidence suggests that community design -- land use, design character, transportation systems, sustainability, and density -- can promote physical activity and lifelong communities; lower the risk of traffic injuries, obesity, heart disease, and hypertension; improve air quality, affordability, social equity, connectivity, mental health and long-term value; increase social connection, sense of community and healthy food access; and reduce crime, violence and contributions to climate change. Organized with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Congress for the New Urbanism 18, "New Urbanism: Rx for Healthy Places," will present new research and innovative techniques for assessing the health impact of land use, transportation planning, and community design decisions -- from fine grained to mega-regional scales. Share the opportunities and challenges of designing and retrofitting communities that make it easier for people to live healthy lives -- CNU's 18th annual Congress in Atlanta, May 19-22, 2010. Preceding the Congress will be certification training, the NextGen Congress and other partner events May 17-18, 2010. For further information, visit http://www.cnu.org/cnu18 .
Looks like the program has a very interesting lineup of speakers and events, as usual. If you can make it to CNU 18, send us a report!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Notre Dame law student Allyson C. Spacht has published her note "The Zoning Diet: Using Restrictive Zoning to Shrink American Waistlines" at 85 Notre Dame L. Rev. 391.
An excerpt (cites ommitted):
The goal of the ICO is to allow city planners to analyze the quantity of fast food restaurants in these communities and to develop solutions to combat the extreme imbalance that has resulted in these areas from decades of spot zoning and neglect in community planning and development. With minimal land remaining for development in these areas, the ICO allows city planners to determine what types of businesses best suit a community with the highest incidence of diabetes in the county and an obesity rate that is nine percent above the county average. The ICO enables council members to actively attract healthier options to these communities, including grocery stores and sit-down restaurants, by preserving the limited existing land for such uses. Councilwoman Jan C. Perry, author of the ICO, and fellow supporters of the ordinance argue that "making healthy decisions about food is difficult when people have small incomes, the grocery store is five miles away and a $ 1 cheeseburger is right around the corner." The ICO serves as just one of the many planning tools the Los Angeles City Council hopes to employ "'to attract sit-down restaurants, full service grocery stores, and healthy food alternatives... in an aggressive manner.'"
I've been aware of the lack of access to quality food in lower income urban areas, but this is the first I've heard of an attempt to zone fast food out of inner city areas and bring in grocery stores and better dining alternatives.
Jamie Baker Roskie