October 19, 2010
Salkin on Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Land Use for Local Governments
Patricia Salkin (Albany) has posted Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Land Use for Local Governments, New York Zoning Law and Practice Report, Vol. 11, No. 2, September/October 2010. The abstract:
Over the last two years a number of state level initiatives in New York have been announced and enacted to address sustainable development and climate change. For example, Governor Paterson issued a series of executive orders: requiring a new State Energy Plan (which was adopted in December 2008); setting a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050 and calling for the creation of a climate action plan (the draft plan is scheduled for release for public comment in November 2010; and creating an interagency committee on sustainability and green procurement. In addition, he signed into law a number of new programs including: the Green Residential Building Grant Program, the Green Jobs – Green New York Program, the Municipal Sustainable Energy Loan Act, and improvements to net metering. While these and other State-level programs are vital to achieving emissions reductions goals and promoting sustainable communities, New York’s cities, towns, and villages have also been at work trying to develop and implement strategies to curb emissions. Municipalities are choosing to adopt clear statements and action items in their comprehensive land use plans, and they are creating climate change or sustainability task forces and developing strategies. Local governments are also enacting regulations to promote green building and alternative energy development. This article introduces the ways in which local governments have taken the lead in mitigating and preparing for climate change, focusing on the manner in which local governments have incorporated climate change concerns into the local land development regime.
September 10, 2010
Burger on Local Initiatives, Preemption, and the Market Participant Exception
Michael Burger (Roger Williams) has posted It's Not Easy Being Green: Local Initiatives, Preemption Problems, and the Market Participant Exception, published in the University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 78, No. 835, 2010. The abstract:
This Article considers whether the market participant exception should be interpreted to exempt local climate change and sustainability initiatives from the "ceilings" imposed by existing environmental laws and pending federal climate change legislation. In the decades-long absence of federal action on climate change, local governments -- along with the states -- positioned themselves at the forefront of climate change and sustainability planning. In fact, state and local actions account for most of the nation's greenhouse gas reduction efforts to date. Yet, front-running localities are being limited by a preemption doctrine that fails to account for both the motives behind their initiatives and the actual effect they have on federal schemes. Indeed, while environmental law has long sought a balance between federalization and devolution of regulatory authority, current preemption doctrine, as applied to federal "ceilings," almost exclusively favors federalization values. The market participant exception offers a means to correct this imbalance. This Article begins by providing a detailed discussion of the evolution of the market participant exception in the dormant Commerce Clause and preemption contexts and unpacking the rationales behind federal "floors" and "ceilings." It then analyzes the collapsing roles of governments and corporations as regulators and market actors, and recasts the work of local governments undertaking climate change initiatives as a "race to the top" of the market for "green" places to live, work, and invest. The Article then articulates a revised test for the market participant exception and illustrates through several case studies how the test can successfully empower local autonomy and enable local innovation without sacrificing the benefits of federal law.
Looks like an interesting article, and I can say with some confidence that it's the best land use article I've seen to riff off of a Kermit the Frog single (although now that I think about it, I'm surprised that more authors haven't noted the Muppet-like travails of Being Green).
June 25, 2010
Salkin on Cooperative Federalism and Climate Change
Patricia Salkin (Albany) has posted Cooperative Federalism and Climate Change: New Meaning to 'Think Globally--Act Locally,' Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 40, 2010. The abstract:
April 19, 2010
Schindler on LEED and Municipal Adoption of Private Green Building Standards
Sarah Schindler (Maine) has posted Following Industry's LEED: Municipal Adoption of Private Green Building Standards,
April 13, 2010
Salkin on Renewable Energy and Land Use Regulation
Patricia Salkin (Albany) has posted a two-part piece on SSRN: Renewable Energy and Land Use Regulation, ALI-ABA Business Law Course Materials Journal, p. 47, February 2010. Here is the link to Part 1 and its abstract:
Part I of a two-part set of materials on renewable energy and land use regulation, this piece focuses on local climate change action plans (highlighting Denver, Los Angeles, Montgomery County, Cleveland and Santa Fe), discusses lcoal governments and LEED, Energy Star issues including preemption, and the incorporation of green development concepts into local comprehensive land use plans and local zoning and land use regulations.
Part 2 and abstract:
This article is Part 2 of a set of materials on renewable energy and land use. The article focuses on state and local government approaches to the siting of wind projects including a discussion of host community agreements. Examples of local ordinances are provided as well as a summary of recent relevant caselaw.
Very relevant and timely.
April 09, 2010
More on Modular - Yoga Style!
Unfortunately YJ doesn't allow access to the current issue on-line. Fortunately the manufacturer of this particular type of home has a website profiling this particular house. It includes a 300 square foot yoga and meditation loft, and according to YJ it's "minimalist, energy efficient, and light on the landscape."
But does it improve your karma?
Jamie Baker Roskie
March 09, 2010
Glick, Rose, & Huertas on the Greening of Community Economic Development In NYC
Brian Glick (Fordham Law), Jessica Rose (Community & Economic Development, Brooklyn Legal Svcs.), & Carmen Huertas (CUNY Law) have posted The Greening of Community Economic Development: Dispatches from New York City, Western New England Law Review, Vol. 31, No. 645 (2009). The abstract:
Community development corporations and other community-based organizations have recently begun to make major efforts to incorporate environmental elements into their projects. This article examines this healthy trend, and lawyers’ contributions to it, through the work of three groups in three diverse communities of color in New York City. It is based on the authors’ experience providing or directing transactional legal assistance to those groups as directors of law school community economic development clinics (Huertas-Noble at CUNY, Glick at Fordham) or of legal services community development units (Rose at Brooklyn Legal Services Corp. A).
Our clients are merging activism for economic development and environmental justice to create green-collar jobs for local residents, build affordable housing that is environmentally friendly, and use local land for sustainable projects that serve and improve the community. In the Cypress Hills section of East New York in Brooklyn, an established community development corporation works creatively to amass the financing required to make its buildings increasingly green. In West Harlem, a prominent environmental justice organization fights for community - serving sustainable land use and for programs to prepare people of color to get their fair share of jobs and contracts in the emerging green economy. In the South Bronx, a new organization forms worker-owned enterprises that train and employ local residents, protect the environment, and offer the potential for residents to accumulate a modicum of local wealth. Other articles in this symposium report a similar convergence of CED and environmental justice efforts in other parts of the country.
This is a promising trend. It offers real possibilities for low-income people of color to live healthier, safer, better lives. It moves forward their efforts to gain greater control over local land and resources. It supports their struggle to survive the deepening economic crisis and offers them the potential to influence and benefit from a more supportive new administration in Washington.
Our snapshots show lawyers, law students and law faculty, making small but important contributions. They help to design, maintain, and adapt legal entities and governance strictures, negotiate contracts and leases, navigate regulatory and subsidy systems, and advise and assist in project development, coordination, and financing. We are committed to doing more of this work and learning how to do it better. We hope you will join us.
February 10, 2010
Baby, It's Cold in Here
From one of my favorite periodicals, The New York Times, an article on people who like it cold in their houses. How cold? 30 to 40 degrees, for some. They do it out of financial necessity or aesthetic predisposition, or because it's better for the environment.
Jamie Baker Roskie
January 20, 2010
Nolon on The Land Use Stabilization Wedge Strategy
John R. Nolon (Pace) has posted The Land Use Stabilization Wedge Strategy: Shifting Ground to Mitigate Climate Change, forthcoming in William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, Vol. 34, p. 1, 2009. The abstract:
This article describes how local governments, through the clever application of existing land use techniques, can mitigate climate change. This strategic path follows one developed by Princeton professor Robert Socolow, who identified and described fifteen categories for organizing society’s climate change mitigation efforts. Five of Socolow’s strategic categories fall within the reach of local land use authority: reduced use of vehicles, energy efficient buildings, vegetative carbon sequestration, wind power, and solar power. Through the aggregation of these local land use techniques, significant energy savings and carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction can be achieved. After making some background points, this article describes how local governments are attacking the root causes of climate change and how state and federal policies can embrace local power, energy, and people to launch a coordinated attack on perhaps the greatest challenge our nation faces.
January 18, 2010
Eichholtz, Kok, & Quigley on Green Office Buildings
Piet M.A. Eichholtz (Maastricht--Economics), Nils Kok (Maastricht--Economics), and John M. Quigley (Berkeley--Economics) have posted Doing Well by Doing Good? Green Office Buildings, forthcoming in the American Economic Review. The abstract:
This paper provides the first credible evidence on the economic value of the certification of “green buildings” - derived from impersonal market transactions rather than engineering estimates. Our analysis of clusters of certified green buildings and nearby comparables establishes that buildings with “green ratings” command substantially higher rents and selling prices than otherwise identical buildings.
Moreover, variations in the premium for green office buildings are systematically related to their energy-saving characteristics. An increase in the energy efficiency of a green building is associated with a substantial increase in selling price - over and above the premium for a labeled building. Further evidence suggests that the intangible effects of the label itself may also play a role in determining the values of green buildings in the marketplace.
January 06, 2010
Welcome back to a new semester! I'm battling a head cold and finishing up an office move, but it's time to get back in the saddle. Fortunately I've saved up a few interesting topics over the break. I happened upon the Virginia Real Estate, Land Use and Construction Law blog during the holiday. They recently had an interesting guest post on Universal Design. For those of us unfamiliar with UD (which is related to the aging-in-place model of home construction and service provision) the bloggers provide this handy definition:
The guest blogger, who is an architect, discusses how UD is and should be related to green design and sustainability. They even have a fun triangular graphic that shows how social, economic and environmental goals relate.
Jamie Baker Roskie
January 05, 2010
Burj Dubai: The Superscraper
There is a new World's Tallest Building: Burj Dubai.
The £1 billion Burj Dubai is at least 2,683ft from its base to the tip of its spire — that’s more than half a mile, the equivalent of three-and-a-half Canary Wharf towers or two Empire State buildings stacked up. Its final height is being kept secret until tomorrow, but architects who have worked on the building have hinted it could break the 2,700ft mark.
The scale of this thing just blows my mind. Two Empire State Buildings?
We have written about Dubai here on the blog. The bursting of the bubble might impact the superscraper's occupancy rates and its ultimate profitability, but simply as a building achievement it seems noteworthy.
However full the building turns out to be, it is an undoubted engineering triumph. Summer temperatures of up to 50C, desert dust storms and the tower’s extreme height forced builders to go to extraordinary lengths to complete the job. Surveyors had to take their measurements just before dawn when the building was “at rest” — not expanding in the heat of day or contracting in the cool hours of night.
Yes, but is it green? Opinions differ.
Environmentalists have criticised the building’s power consumption.
But . . . .
The Chicago-based architects, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, deny the claim. “Tall buildings are inherently energy- efficient because they are high-density,” said Bill Baker, chief structural engineer. He described the Burj as an affirmation of the power and importance of tall buildings following the 9/11 attacks that brought down the World Trade Center in New York. “It’s a symbol of optimism. It says, ‘We believe in the future’.”
At any rate, the world has a new Tallest Building this New Year.
December 14, 2009
Salkin on NY Local Governments and Climate Change & Energy Efficiency
Patricia Salkin (Albany) has posted New York Local Governments Respond to Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. The abstract:
While climate change is not exclusively a land use issue, some of the most effective strategies to slow climate change can be accomplished through modifications to building codes, zoning ordinances and other land use regulations. However, to be truly effective and to attain quantifiable results, local governments must implement a variety of tools and techniques and send a consistent message to residents. This paper collects and explores various approaches recently adopted by local governments throughout the State of New York, allowing municipal attorneys and policymakers to consider options for adoption of locally based initiatives designed to reduce our carbon footprint.
November 24, 2009
Energy Inspections in Austin?
A proposal to require energy inspection for all new housing starts will be sent to the city council in Texas's weird state captial. The Austin Business Journal headlines it as Proposal ruffles builders:
A new ordinance requiring new housing starts to undergo energy inspections cleared its last hurdle Nov. 17 and will be sent to the City Council amid ardent opposition from the local home builders association.
The proposed law, which adopts the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code, will supplant an old rule that only required a sampling of similar new housing by the same builder to be tested. The new rule will instead mandate testing for every single- or two-family unit by outside contractors.
Not everyone is happy:
At the Nov. 17 hearing, Home Builders Association of Greater Austin Executive Vice President Harry Savio said the new codes will add 88 cents per square foot to the cost of new houses in Austin and further slow sluggish permitting offices that are understaffed.
The inspections would be for heating, ventilation, and cooling of all new residential units. Austin has contemplated a policy goal to have all new homes be zero-energy by 2015. Whether adding new requirements during a recession is a wise move remains to be seen.
November 15, 2009
Sports stadiums: if you build it, will they come?
For you football fans out there, here is a Sunday post about the recurring issue in many cities about building a new sports stadium, either for the local team or to attract a new team to town. There are a lot of land use issues bound up in these controversies. Cities like to have sports teams, not just for the city's sports fans, but also very much for the broader but nebulous civic sense that the city is a "major-league" town or that it has "arrived." Claims are made about the economic development that must surely result from the construction of fancy new digs for the team. Transit and traffic issues are involved. Location: should the stadium be in the suburbs, or downtown? What will be the impact on neighborhoods? On property values and taxes? On the environment? Of course, the gorilla in the room is the question of who pays--the team or the taxpayer? People don't want to lose their team, but neither do they want to be held "hostage" by the wealthy owners' demands. Then there is the problem of land assembly. How much eminent domain will be needed?
My sense is that over the last few years the public has become much less receptive to the notion of public financing for sports stadium (stadia?). Yet the issue comes back repeatedly when a team makes noises about "needing" an upgraded venue.
The nation's second-largest city (and media market) remains without a professional football franchise, but that isn't stopping Los Angeles from trying to lure one back. From a recent article about LA's latest new-stadium proposal:
LOS ANGELES — Nearly 15 years after the Los Angeles area’s two professional football teams left for other cities, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill to clear the way for a new stadium seen as pivotal to drawing a team to the region. . . .
But the latest effort, to build a 75,000-seat, $800 million “green” stadium in City of Industry, a warehouse and shopping district 15 miles east of downtown, is considered one of the more viable to come along in a long time.
No taxpayer money would be used to finance it, a condition that has helped squelch other plans; the developer, the Majestic Realty Company, said it would seek private investors.
Here is a website about the proposal: losangelesfootballstadium.com. Lots of design info and pictures. I think it's particularly interesting in that I don't recall any previous proposals for a "green" stadium. It's good that the proposal purports to eschew direct public financing; the state is mired in fiscal crisis, and LA is still paying for Jacko's memorial at the Staples Center. But what will the indirect public costs be? Will they be outweighed by the always-promised economic development?
Relatedly, in the other kind of football, soccer ("metric football"?), Houston wants to build a soccer-specific stadium for the Major League Soccer franchise Houston Dynamo. The stadium is proposed for an area on the edge of downtown and on a proposed light rail line. There was a little bit of debate over the proposed use of tax increment financing for certain aspects of the project. [We call Houston the Unzoned City but there are some significant uses of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones or "TIRZ"]. As far as the public "sales pitch" for the soccer stadium, Houston already has the team, but it would like to play host to potential U.S. World Cup games, thereby proving that the city has "arrived."
There are also the peripheral legal issues around stadiums, such as regulating the "pedicabs" that operate to bring people to and from the game from distant parking. (Here's what they look like.) UPDATE: here's a USA Today article on the growing use of and legal issues about pedicabs.
And of course, don't forget the simmering controversy over the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project, which combines a Kelo-style master redevelopment plan (and heartburn over eminent domain) with all of these issues about public involvement with bringing a new sports team (the NBA Nets franchise) to town, and the litigation in Goldstein v. New York State Urban Redevelopment Corporation.
Brian Yates has an article on the subject called "Whether Building a New Sports Arena will Revitalize Downtown and Make the Team a Winner," Vol. 17 U. Miami Business Law Review p. 269 (2009). So if you're headed out to the stadium today, enjoy the game, and think about all of the land use issues involved! Thanks to Ryan Palmquist, Paul Farnum, Alan Saweris, and William Powell for links.
November 15, 2009 in Architecture, Development, Downtown, Eminent Domain, Environmental Law, Green Building, Houston, Local Government, Real Estate Transactions, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
November 12, 2009
Green Cities, Cool Cities (Florida, Kotkin)
Why not consider devoting different streets to different kinds of transportation? And surely cities need more green space and some are actually getting it. Inspired by the High-Line Park, by DC's Rock Creek Park, and Toronto's extensive ravine system, I have been noodling about the possibility of creating linear green belts or what I like to think of as sliver parks through cities. . . .
So I was more than pleasantly surprised to see The New York Times' Nicolai Ouroussoff highlighting just such an approach coming out of a nine-month design competition for the Bronx's "faded" Grand Concourse.
Meanwhile, Joel Kotkin of New Geography and Forbes continues to pour empirical water on Florida's creative class thesis in Numbers Don't Support Migration Exodus to "Cool" Citites:
For the past decade a large coterie of pundits, prognosticators and their media camp followers have insisted that growth in America would be concentrated in places hip and cool, largely the bluish regions of the country.
Since the onset of the recession, which has hit many once-thriving Sun Belt hot spots, this chorus has grown bolder. The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently identified the "Next Youth-Magnet Cities" as drawn from the old "hip and cool" collection of yore: Seattle, Portland, Washington, New York and Austin, Texas.
It's not just the young who will flock to the blue meccas, but money and business as well, according to the narrative. The future, the Atlantic assured its readers, did not belong to the rubes in the suburbs or Sun Belt, but to high-density, high-end places like New York, San Francisco and Boston.
This narrative, which has not changed much over the past decade, is misleading and largely misstated. Net migration, both before and after the Great Recession, according to analysis by the Praxis Strategy Group, has continued to be strongest to the predominately red states of the South and Intermountain West.
An interesting and important debate about the core issues of land use planning.
October 20, 2009
Brad Pitt, New Orleans, and "Houses of the Future"
Wayne Curtis has a very interesting article in The Atlantic, called Houses of the Future. The intro:
Four years after the levee failures, New Orleans is seeing an unexpected boom in architectural experimentation. Small, independent developers are succeeding in getting houses built where the government has failed. And the city's unique challenges—among them environmental impediments, an entrenched culture of leisure, and a casual acquaintance with regulation—are spurring design innovations that may redefine American architecture for a generation.
An interesting assessment, particularly in its suggestion that private development has been working better so far than any comprehensive efforts to rebuild New Orleans. What does Brad Pitt have to do with all this?
And then, suddenly, amid heroically overgrown lawns, you see a cluster of modern, colorful, and modestly sized homes, looking like a farm where they grow houses for Dwell magazine. These are the fruits to date of Pitt’s other project, Make It Right New Orleans. New Orleanians refer to these homes collectively as “the Brad Pitt Houses,” which gives them the pleasing ring of an ambitious public-housing project from the post–World War II years. But Pitt’s ambitions are not merely utilitarian. He hopes to offer displaced residents affordable, cutting-edge, radically green homes designed by name-brand architects like Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry. And he seems to be succeeding.
Four years after Katrina, the rebuilding of New Orleans is not proceeding the way anyone envisioned, nor with the expected cast of characters. (If I may emphasize: Brad Pitt is the city’s most innovative and ambitious housing developer.)
However, not everyone is on board with Brad Pitt's (architects') designs:
Not everybody is so circumspect. “Oh, it’s all bullshit,” Andres Duany said to me last fall, when I brought up Make It Right. “The high design? That has nothing to do with reality. That’s just architectural self-indulgence.”
Duany has been heavily involved in New Orleans rebuilding since the hurricane, but he advocates both traditional design and traditional methods:
So the central problem, according to Duany: “All the do-goody people attempting to preserve the culture are the same do-gooders who are raising the standards for the building of houses, and are the same do-gooders who are giving people partial mortgages and putting them in debt,” he said. . . .
As an alternative, Duany argues for “opt-out zones” for some of the hardest-hit areas, including the Lower Ninth. Within these zones, residents could rebuild their homes the way the city was originally constructed: by hand, incrementally, and unencumbered by what Duany calls “gold-plated” building regulations or bank requirements.
It's a good article that touches on many land use issues (I just wish The Atlantic had included more pictures in the web version).
October 16, 2009
NYT on Environmentalism in the Suburbs
The New York Times published several articles on environmentalism in the suburbs, seemingly on the same day last week but on different pages of different sections in different editions (NY, NJ, CT, LI) of the paper. (I don't get the dead-tree version so correct me if I'm wrong about this.) An interesting batch:
Each article discusses a different issue in a different locality, but a common theme that I picked up is just how deeply environmental consciousness has affected the suburbs. Several of these local governments have gone as far as to change their zoning codes or offer incentives to promote green building, conservation, and carbon output reduction. The suburbs get the blame for causing sprawl but the people in the suburbs may be reaching a threshold point of incorporating environmentalism into local policy.
UPDATE: Mireya Navarro, the New York Times environmental writer who authored three of the six articles linked above, emails to confirm that the stories all ran in the Sunday, Oct. 11 metro section, which (as Ms. Navarro put it) is "zoned"(!) for the different suburban areas (NJ, LI, CT, Westchester, etc.). So if you only got one of these stories in your Sunday NY Times, you can read them all here on the Land Use Prof Blog!