Thursday, July 21, 2011
Jessica Owley--one of our outstanding guest bloggers this year and, yes, she is a land use prof--sends word about a new listserv designed especially for junior scholars in environmental law, land use, and natural resources:
NEW LISTSERV FORMED
Environmental Law Junior Scholar Listserv
There is a new listserv available for pre-tenured faculty in environmental law, natural resources, and land use. This listserv will not duplicate the benefits of other valuable listservs available as it is intended to serve as a safe forum for open and candid dialogue junior scholars.
Beyond a traditional listserv, we will use this list to facilitate paper exchanges among our ranks. Those who choose to participate in the paper exchanges will gain the benefit of two colleagues reading and commenting on their work. Signing onto the listserv does not commit you to the paper exchange program. [If senior scholars are interested in volunteering to comment on a paper or two over the course of the year, please let us know by e-mailing jol at buffalo dot edu.]
To join the listserv, please send the following information to jol at buffalo dot edu
(2) Current Institution
(3) Years Teaching
Looks like a great resource for junior scholars--go ahead and sign up!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Jessica Owley (University at Buffalo School of Law) and Adena Rissman (Wisconsin-Madison, Dept. of Forest & Wildlife Ecology) have posted Distributed Graduate Seminars: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Studying Land Conservation, forthcoming in the Pace Environmental Law Review (PELR). The abstract:
Adapting to the many changes associated with climate change is an increasingly important issue and nowhere more so than in efforts to conserve private land. Interdisciplinary distributed graduate seminars conducted in Spring 2011 at six universities investigated whether current land conservation laws and institutions appear up to the task of protecting land in the context of change and avenues for improving the adaptive capacity of such institutions.
Distributed graduate seminars are courses coordinated among multiple universities. They begin with a core of interested faculty who organize graduate students at their universities to collect or analyze dispersed data. This article gives a brief introduction to distributed graduate seminars and then details the experience and insights gained conducting such a seminar for land conservation and climate change. The distributed graduate seminar offers advantages by allowing for the synthesis of diverse data, the integration of multiple disciplinary perspectives, and the person-power enabled by student research. For students, the distributed seminar provides opportunities to engage with a broader academic community, benefit from new perspectives, and contribute in a meaningful way to a large endeavor.
Their seminar is a great idea, and an ambitious way to take advantage of the inherent interdisciplinarity in the land use field. The paper is part of the forthcoming PELR special issue from the Practically Grounded conference on teaching land use and environmental law. More to come.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The environmental law community is mourning the passing of former Colorado Law dean David Getches. While I never had the pleasure of meeting Dean Getches, it is evident he was deeply loved and respected, as well as very accomplished. From his faculty bio:
David Getches is the Raphael J. Moses Professor of Natural Resources Law at the University of Colorado School of Law. He teaches and writes on water law, public land law, environmental law, and Indian law. Professor Getches has published several books including: Water Law in a Nutshell (1997); Searching Out the Headwaters: Change and Rediscovery in Western Water Law and Policy, with Bates, MacDonnell and Wilkinson (1993); Controlling Water Use: The Unfinished Business of Water Quality Control, with MacDonnell and Rice (1991); Water Resource Management, with Tarlock and Corbridge (1993); and Federal Indian Law, with Wilkinson and Williams (1998). He has written many articles and book chapters that appear in diverse scholarly and popular sources, including recent articles calling for reform of Colorado River governance and criticizing the Supreme Court’s departure from traditional principles in Indian law.
From 1983-1987, David Getches was Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources under Governor Richard D. Lamm. The department includes ten divisions of state government that deal with parks, wildlife, land, water, and minerals. While in that post he strongly advocated water conservation, pressed for groundwater law reform, advanced ideas for better cooperative management and control of the Colorado River, urged expansion of the state’s designated wilderness areas, and spoke out on the importance of recreation and wildlife to the state’s economy.
Mr. Getches was the founding Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). He developed the staff, funding, and program of this national, nonprofit Indian-interest law firm. Major cases he litigated include a Northwest Indian fishing rights case (United States v. Washington, also known as “the Boldt decision”) and a case on behalf of Eskimos to establish the North Slope Borough, the largest municipality in the world, which includes the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. His other cases dealt with water rights, land claims, federal trust responsibilities, environmental issues, education, and civil rights on behalf of Native American clients throughout the West.
He obviously will be deeply missed.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I stay in touch with a recent grad doing land use work. (He has a great climate adaptation blog). He asked how I deal with plagiarism and sent this piece from the New Inquiry on cheating. It's "a dialogue between Teach, an adjunct philosophy instructor at a public university in New York, and Cheat, who has authored over 100 papers for pay." I learned some new red flags to watch out for; such as the correct use of a semicolon.
Teach: In my philosophy class of 36 students I had six instances of plagiarism. I ended up turning them all in to the Committee on Academic Standing.
Cheat: Do you remember how they plagiarized?
T: One is a case of self-plagiarism, in which the third paper was turned in a second time for the fourth paper.
C: In its entirety?
T: In its near entirety. He changed the introduction and the conclusion, but left the body paragraphs the same.
C: So he tricked a search engine, but not a human.
T: In the four other cases, I discovered specific lines that were taken off Internet sites including the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy—at the best, Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, and some Cambridge professor’s blog.
C: How did you find that? Through a Google search?
T: Well, first I detect it. There are a number of red flags.
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.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
This blog has the dual purpose of training our clinicians to write in plain English and providing accessible summaries of key Vermont land use decisions for volunteers and land use professionals.
In Vermont, most land use decisions are made by volunteers, frequently without staff support. In 2010, we conducted a survey of zoning administrators, development review board members, planning commissioners, applicants and concerned citizens. We wondered if a blog written by law students could be helpful to these folks? The survey results indicated an interest and need for plain English summaries of key municipal land use and state permitting decisions.
We hope to update the blog weekly to summarize important developments in Vermont land use law.
Let us know if you have any suggestions!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
To continue our parade of fantastic guest bloggers, we are very pleased to announce that Katherine Garvey will be joining us for the month of June. Prof. Garvey is Staff Attorney and Assistant Professor at Vermont Law School's excellent Land Use Clinic. Here's her bio:
Katherine Garvey is a Staff Attorney and Assistant Professor of Law with the Land Use Clinic. From 2003 to 2006, she worked for EPA, Region VII in the National Agricultural Compliance Assistance Center and with the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. Professor Garvey is also an ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems Certified Lead Auditor. She developed and audited environmental management systems for military and large agricultural operations. From 2006 to 2008, Professor Garvey worked for the City of Lee's Summit, Missouri as the Environmental Coordinator. She helped the City comply with permitting requirements for their airport and landfill. In addition, she helped the City develop a solid waste management plan, stormwater plan, stream buffer ordinance, and a natural resource inventory map. In 2008, Garvey was chosen as Vermont Law's Land Use Fellow for the Land Use Institute. At the Institute, she supervised student work related to land use legislation, developed training materials for local officials, and performed statutory research for the Institute's land use partners.
Vermont has one of the three land use law clinics in the nation, along with Jamie Roskie's at Georgia (Montana is the third). We're excited to have Prof. Garvey join us!
Tanya Marsh from Property Prof Blog asked me to spread the word about a great opportunity for anyone interested in getting involved in the ABA's Real Property section. It's the ABA-RPTE Fellows program. Prof. Marsh was a fellow a few years ago, and in her blog post she tells us about the terrific opportunities it provided her to do substantive work and to get to know other leading lawyers in the field. The application deadline is June 17. You can get to the application materials at the link or through her informative post here.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
While it's not entirely a land use issue, many of us have had to deal with perpetuities issues in land. Contrary to what you hear from certain property-haters out there, the Rule Against Perpetuities still affects many property law issues, even if it lurks behind the scenes much of the time. Some of you may have seen this story going around: Millionaire's heirs get inheritance after 92 yrs; Lumber baron Wellington R. Burt finally parts with his fortune, 21 years after his last grandkid died.
(AP) SAGINAW, Mich. — Ninety-two years after his death, Saginaw lumber baron Wellington R. Burt is finally parting with the fortune he withheld from his descendants until 21 years after the death of the last grandchild born in his lifetime.
The estate is now valued at $100 million to $110 million. It will be shared among 12 of his heirs later this month.
According to The Saginaw News, Burt once was among the eight wealthiest Americans. He made millions of dollars in the harvesting of the Saginaw Valley's timber and then another fortune in Minnesota's iron mines. He served as mayor of Saginaw and later as a Michigan state senator.
At 19 years old, Christina Cameron of Lexington, Ky., is the youngest of the 12 and is in line to receive $2.6 million to $2.9 million. . . . Cameron is the great-granddaughter of Marion Landsill. She was the last survivor among Burt's grandchildren who were born in his lifetime. She died Nov. 21, 1989.
Saginaw County Chief Probate Judge Patrick McGraw said the estate is "one of the most complicated research projects" he's faced in his 12-year career in Saginaw. When McGraw arrived in 1999, the estate had long been a part of courthouse lore.
The Dead Hand got its wish, to the maximum extent allowed under the RAP! Show this story to your students the next time you hear that they know a guy who knows a guy who knows a lawyer who says the RAP doesn't have any real-world impact. While many states have abolished or reformed the rule, property law still remains in the shadow of the ol' lives in being + 21 rule. Personally, I think it also gets the point across if you wear a Rule Against Perpetuities t-shirt like the one above from my closet, but that may not fit everyone's sense of style. Thanks to Steve Homer, John Kowalczyk, and Ash Shepherd for the pointer.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Just a quick follow up to Matt's post about the Practically Grounded conference last week. This was the first time I've been to (or presented at) a conference of this type. It was so interesting to hear how land use and environmental professors are really engaging their students in experiential and interdisciplinary learning in their doctrinal, clinical, and skills classes. I learned so much!
It was also a historic moment in that there were three land use clinicians in the same room. Michelle Bryan Mudd from University of Montana and Kat Garvey from Vermont joined us. There aren't many Land Use Clinics in the country, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with them and get their perspective on running this type of clinic. Who knows, this might even lead to some inter-state collaboration down the road?
Pace University Law School plans a follow up journal edition to this conference, so that folks who weren't able to attend will be able to read the preceedings. Hopefully this is also the first of many conferences of its type to come.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Sunday, May 8, 2011
On Thursday Pace Law School hosted the conference Practically Grounded: Best Practices for Skill Building in Teaching Land Use, Environmental, and Sustainable Development Law. John Nolon and Patricia Salkin organized this event to advance the discussion they started with their recent article Practically Grounded: Convergence of Land Use Law Pedagogy and Best Practices, published in the Journal of Legal Education (2011). The conference was ably sponsored by the Pace Law School's Land Use Law Center for Sustainable Development and the Kheel Center on the Resolution of Environmental Interest Disputes; and Albany Law School's Government Law Center and the Center for Excellence in Law Teaching.
The conference brought together a diverse group of people from across disciplines and the legal profession. Among academics, there were land use and environmental law profs, as one would expect, but also a number of scholars who brought their particular expertise and experience in legal education and the best practices movement. There was also some great participation from practitioners and students at the event. A lot of great ideas were shared. Here's a quick rundown of the presentations:
After the introduction by Profs. Nolon and Salkin, the first panel was an overview discussion of the context of skill and value teaching in law schools and a very helpful discussion of the (much-discussed but less-well-understood) Carnegie Report and Best Practices Report. Mary Lynch (Albany Law, and also editor of the Best Practices for Legal Education Blog), Jill Gross (Pace), and Vanessa Merton (Pace) conducted this informative discussion along with a humorous role-playing excercise.
The next panel was "Clinics and Values." Our own co-blogger Jamie Roskie (Georgia) presented "Values as Part of the Clinical Experience," exploring the role of values in student land use clinical work. Michael Burger (Roger Williams) gave an interesting take on intrapersonal intelligence and advocacy in "Psychological Intelligence as a Lawyering Skill: Integrating Students' Values into Doctrinal Analysis of Environmental Law & Policy."
Panel 3 was "Stakeholders and Role Playing." Karl Coplan (Pace), in "Teaching Environmental Law Skills Through Interest Group Role-Playing," blew many of us away with how extensively he uses role playing exercises in a capstone environmental law class. Andrea McArcle (CUNY) spoke about her fascinating newly-designed course in "Learning in Context: Land Use and Community Lawyering."
The next panel was on "Research and Writing." Dwight Merriam (Vermont Law; Robinson & Cole LLP) presented "Out of the Nest: Getting Students Published" from his intensive land use writing seminar. Yours truly (South Texas) then spoke about "Research and Writing as Best Practices in Teaching Land Use."
The fifth panel featured two of our recent guest-bloggers on "Science and Other Disciplines." Jessica Owley (Buffalo) discussed an innovative project called "Distributed Graduate Seminars," where six universities have cooperated to teach an interdisciplinary course on conservation easements. Jon Rosenbloom (Drake) showed how he engaged his students in real local policy issues in "Now We're Cooking! Adding Practical Application to the Recipe for Teaching Sustainability."
Finally, we heard about "Problem Solving." Michael Lewyn (Florida Coastal) discussed his approach to livening up a seminar course by getting students to see practical applications in "Experiential Learning through Field Trips and Seminars." Keith Hirokawa (Albany) closed with "Teaching Law from the Dirt," which discussed his use of and class visit to a real local development project.
The papers were all very interesting, and will be published online in a forthcoming issue of the Pace Law Review.
This was a really enjoyable conference and, I think, a very important one too. It was absolutely fascinating to learn about so much innovation and creativity that is actually taking place in (and outside of) our classrooms. One of the common themes--proceeding from the organizers' Practically Grounded article--is that land use is uniquely suited to the application of the best practices movement. But I think that any field could profit from a discussion like this. It's a great time to be teaching land use.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
While waiting for the first stack of ungraded final exams to hit my desk this week, I’ve been following developments in a dispute between Illinois and Missouri over flooding along the Mississippi River. Rising floodwaters in the region presented federal government officials with a difficult choice. If they took no action, severe flooding would likely destroy the small town of Cairo, Illinois. If they intentionally broke a downstream levee, they would save Cairo from ruin but would allow floodwaters to devastate 90 homes and 200 square miles of farmland in Missouri. I plan on discussing this simple dilemma to introduce the concept of cost-benefit analysis to my Land Use students this Fall.
The conflict has centered on whether to activate the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway, a 130,000-acre area in southeast Missouri. In the 1920s and 1930s, the federal government paid private landowners an average of $17 per acre to acquire “flowage rights” throughout the floodway. The acquisition of these rights, authorized under the 1928 Flood Control Act, entitles the federal government to purposely divert water from the main channel of the Mississippi River onto the burdened properties when necessary to prevent flooding elsewhere.
For the past week, Illinois and Missouri have been battling in court over whether the federal government should fill the floodway with water for the first time since 1937 to prevent flooding in Cairo. Missouri’s attorney general filed a complaint in U.S. District Court last week seeking a court order to prevent intentional flooding of the floodway, arguing that it was unjustified and would cause water pollution in violation of the Clean Water Act. The District Court denied Missouri’s request, and Missouri’s appeals to the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court also failed. With the legal obstacles cleared, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used explosives to blast a two-mile-wide hole in a river levee last night and began floodwaters pouring into the floodway.
According to Bloomberg, the U.S. Government believes that flooding the floodway will cause about $314 million in damage and contamination but will avoid more than $1.7 billion in damage in Cairo and other communities along the river. Based on those figures, landowners within the floodway were the least-cost avoiders in this context and sacrificing their land uses to protect more valuable uses upstream probably maximizes social welfare. Not surprisingly, many of the private individuals residing or working within the 200-square-mile floodway were more focused on their own losses. A local newspaper article suggests that some landowners intend to file a takings claim against the federal government for breaking the levee.
Ironically, the concept of externalities or “spillover” effects takes on a double meaning in this case. The question of whether or not to flood the floodway required government decision makers to consider both the literal and figurative spillover effects of each option!
The Land Use Prof Blog is delighted to welcome its newest guest blogger, Professor Troy A. Rule. Prof. Rule is an Associate Professor at the University of Missouri School of Law. He teaches land use, secured transactions, and sales & leases, and his research focuses on renewable energy and property law. He's an alum of BYU and Chicago and worked in the finance industry before a law practice in Seattle focused on commercial real estate and wind energy.
We've featured his scholarship several times on the blog, including Shadows on the Cathedral: Solar Access Laws in a Different Light; Renewable Energy and the Neighbors; and, most recently, Sharing the Wind. His next piece is Airspace in a Green Economy, forthcoming in the UCLA Law Review. He was also recently on a well-received panel at ALPS with some of our regular Land Use bloggers.
It's a great privilege to introduce Troy and to add him to the list of outstanding new voices in land use law that we've been lucky enough to host here. It's fantastic that he has volunteered to guest-blog during May, which is the month that most of us love to procrastinate by reading blogs, but are too busy grading to write very much. So thanks to him for signing up! On top of all of his scholarly accomplishments, Troy Rule might just have the single greatest name of any junior scholar in the legal academy. We look forward to reading.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
The blog has been going great this past year, and we've been especially lucky to have a number of phenomenal guest-bloggers recently. We take credit for recruiting these voices to contribute to the broader discussion of land use, but I haven't done as good of a job as I should have in thanking them for their excellent service.
Hannah Wiseman was with us for April, and her posts were fantastic. I didn't even realize until after she had started guest-blogging that in the prior month she was one of the five intrepid scholars who relaunched the Environmental Law Prof Blog, which had been dormant. (We know something about that task, and we welcome them as colleagues on the Law Professor Blogs Network!). Amazingly, Hannah kept contributing interesting substantive posts on both blogs.
So thanks to Hannah, and thanks to McKay Cunningham, Antonia Layard, Jessica Owley, and Jon Rosenbloom. You guys have made the blog successful, and you're welcome back any time. The guest bloggers' contributions have been the main thing on which I've received the most positive feedback recently. So here's the teaser-- we have a couple of additional excellent guest bloggers lined up for the summer!
Thanks to all of our readers and most especially to our contributors.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Yesterday I attended the funeral service for long-time UGA law professor Milner Ball. Milner was best known as a constitutional law professor. He was also well known for creating the first civil law clinical program here at UGA - the Public Interest Practicum, and our first Environmental Law Clinic. (The Land Use Clinic is an offshoot of the Enviornmental Law Practicum that grew out of that first clinic.) All of the clinicians here owe a huge debt to Milner. Indeed, most of us would not be here without his influence and guidance. We all miss his grace, cheer, intellect, and gentle leadership.
His obituary can be found here. My condolences go out to his wife June, and his children and grandchildren.
Jamie Baker Roskie
UPDATE: The UGA School of Law has launched a tribute page for Milner.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Patricia Salkin has given me permission to re-post this message to the environmental law professors listserv:
In its late February article, entitled “As They Ponder Reforms, Law Deans Find Schools Remarkably Resistant to Change,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that law faculty use the “lecture-based model because it is cost-effective and convenient,” quoting Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of University of California’s Irvine School of Law. In the same article, Dean Richard Matasar of New York Law School bluntly states, "[w]e're all old dogs trying to learn some new tricks, and all of us old dogs have got tenure and we're not going any place.”
John Nolon of Pace Law School and I conducted a teaching survey in the land use law area and found remarkable evidence showing change in teaching skills in recent years. We suggest that the practical, emotionally-charged, interdisciplinary, and grounded nature of land use, as well as environmental and sustainable development law, make courses on these subjects ideal both for teaching skills and values and for integrating podium and clinical methods of instruction. (See Practically Grounded: Convergence of Land Use Pedagogy and Best Practices, Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 60, Number 3, February, 2011, at p. 519.) Our survey shows that the trend toward teaching practice skills in traditional doctrinal courses is underway, at least in the land use classroom.
Deans and professors are focused on this issue in part because the American Bar Association is planning to add “student learning outcomes” to the process of accrediting law schools. Drafting new rules for schools to follow has been delegated to the ABA’s Student Learning Outcomes Subcommittee. This six-member group is charged with the controversial task of determining the rules that schools must follow to determine and measure the skills that law students should have upon graduation. For further information on these accreditation issues see The National Law Journal of Feb 22, 2011.
Albany and Pace Law Schools are sponsoring a conference on this topic. On May 5th, nearly a dozen land use and environmental law professors from law schools across the country will present their skills and values teaching models. Additionally, our resident experts will facilitate extensive discussions regarding best practices for teaching practice skills to students in upper division courses. High on the list of discussion topics are the time practice teaching takes, class size issues, and the concern over lost doctrinal coverage. Please click here for conference information if you are interested in attending.
Matt Festa, Jon Rosebloom, Jessica Owley and I are among the presenters. We hope you'll join us.
Jamie Baker Roskie
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
We've already blogged about the very exciting upcoming conference Practically Grounded – Embracing Skill and Values Teaching in Land Use, Environmental, and Sustainable Development Law Classes, May 5 at Pace. The official brocure is now out--click the link for a full-size version, and please consult the website for more information and registration. It looks like a great program, and I'm very much looking forward to it.
Monday, April 4, 2011
As many of you might be aware, the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four has been this weekend in Houston, where I live and teach. As I write this, the championship game is set to tip off in about an hour in Reliant Stadium, about a mile from my home. So of course you must be thinking "how is Festa going to turn this into a land use issue?"
Already done, with my students' help. On the first day of the semester, to make the point that land use issues intersect with almost everything that goes on in our communities, I put up the home page of the Houston Chronicle and challenged them to explain the land use issues in a given story. The lead story was something about the then-upcoming Final Four. So here's some of what we came up with on the fly:
Land assembly--where did they get the land to build the stadium and the parking? It's next to the old Astrodome (you can see a corner of it in the picture), so I don't believe eminent domain was needed this time around, but you know that's always a big issue with new sports stadiums.
Use--the Reliant/Astrodome complex was just used up until about two weeks ago for one of the nation's largest Livestock Show & Rodeo events with accompanying carnival. It's impressive that they could retrofit for the Final Four so quickly.
Transportation--can people get there? Do the roads need to be widened, etc.? If so, who pays, and are there legal changes needed? Houston has a seven-year old light rail that goes from downtown through the Texas Medical Center to the stadium, and it's been quite busy the past weekend. Also, there've been lots of limos, helicopters, and blimps around town the last few days--where do they go?
Local government--the stadium is goverened not by the City of Houston, but by an independent quasi-public County Sports Authority. Plus the transportation is governed by a separate Metro agency. However a lot of coordination is necessary for big events like the Final Four.
Facilities--lots of people coming in from all over the country; where do they stay, etc. For example, I took a ULI-sponsored construction site tour about a year ago of the just-opened Embassy Suites downtown. The city's goal was to get a hotel opened in time for the Final Four, so there was a fairly complicated tax incentive scheme put in place that involved changing the law to provide an occupancy-tax break for new hotels sited in a particular space (and they say we don't have zoning based on use). The incentivized siting was between the light rail and the new Discovery Green park--where a lot of free concerts have been given as part of the festivities--and the downtown convention center, where the "Bracketown" official hoopla program was held. All of this is just a few blocks from where I teach at South Texas College of Law. Discovery Green is itself also a recently-built and critically acclaimed new urban park and public space. Finally, all of the planning and coordination that involves a city's hosting a big event requires lots of logistics, regulatory changes, and many many permit approvals, for things ranging from temporary buildings to new signs.
So my students and I think there are a lot of land use issues involved with having the Final Four in town, and it goes to show that even in the Unzoned City, there are many ways that land use gets regulated and controlled. It's been fun having all the activity in town, and . . . Go Butler!
UPDATE: It wasn't to be for the underdogs, so congrats to Connecticut. The photo above was taken by Natalie Festa at almost the exact time that the national championship game tipped off. "The Road Ends . . ." = land use metaphor? Tuesday is the women's championship--don't tell my fellow Texans that I'll be pulling for Notre Dame vs. A&M.
April 4, 2011 in Development, Downtown, First Amendment, Green Building, History, Houston, Humorous, Local Government, Planning, Politics, Property, Property Rights, Scholarship, Signs, Sun Belt, Teaching, Texas, Transportation, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)