Friday, September 29, 2006

RLUIPA Blogging

The Religion Clause blog has had a number of recent post on religious land use issues that may be of interest to property profs:

Wisconsin City Settles RLUIPA Suit

Florida Church For Homeless Sues For Discrimination In Zoning

Justice Department Sues NY Village Under RLUIPA

Michigan Township's Zoning Violates RLUIPA

Church Land Use Denial Arises In Claim Against Army

Thanks to Rick Duncan (Nebraska) for the pointer.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 29, 2006 in Land Use | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What's Happening?

As Secretary of the AALS Property Section, I have the great privilege of putting together this year's Section Newsletter.  One feature of the newsletter is a list of recent scholarship and other professional achievements by section members.  So if you're a section member, please send me an e-mail telling me what you've done in the past year.  Thanks.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 28, 2006 in Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Liberal Theories of Property Part II

My first post on this topic discussed an excerpt from Charles Lindblom's book Politics and Markets.  The basic idea of a liberal theory of property is that property is necessary to, or at the least promotes, individual freedom.  Lindblom discussed one aspect of the connection between property and freedom, suggesting that absent private property we would not be free because we would be beholden to the government for resources needed to live our lives.  This point is similar to the one made by Charles Reich in the following passage from The New Property:

One of [the functions of property] is to draw a boundary between public and private power.  Property draws a circle around the activities of each private individual or organization . . . . Within, [the owner] is master, and the state must explain and justify any interference . . . .

Thus, property performs the function of maintaining independence, dignity and pluralism in society by creating zones within which the majority has to yield to the owner.  Whim, caprice, irrationality and “antisocial” activities are given the protection of law; the owner may do what all or most of his neighbors decry.  The Bill of Rights also serves this function, but while the Bill of Rights comes into play only at extraordinary moments of conflict or crisis, property affords day-to-day protection in the ordinary affairs of life.  Indeed, in the final analysis the Bill of Rights depends upon the existence of private property.  Political rights presuppose that individuals and private groups have the will and the means to act independently.  But so long as individuals are motivated largely by self-interest, their well-being must first be independent.

This is my favorite articulation of a liberal conception of property, and there is a lot here.  The first part of the passage highlights the importance of property in creating a zone of individual autonomy and privacy.  The last two sentences express a different idea, similar to that raised by Lindblom:  that if we are beholden to the government for our everyday wellbeing, then we cannot be politically free.  The point is a simple one:  if I am dependent on the mayor of my town for my food, I am not in a position to exercise any political freedom that I may nominally have.

Next up:  Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 28, 2006 in Property Theory | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

McFarlane on Class and Redevelopment

Audrey McFarlane (University of Baltimore - School of Law) has posted Redevelopment and the Four Dimensions of Class in Land Use on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This essay begins with the proposition that the battle over the exercise of eminent domain as a question of the extent to which we accept local economic development as a proper exercise of local governmental authority. In light of the reality that economic development seeks to accomplish redevelopment to meet the social needs and consumption tastes of the affluent, the issue of local governments' autonomy to engage in redevelopment for economic development purposes is suffused with socioeconomic class struggles over land use. Therefore, the changes wrought by redevelopment challenge us to think and talk about class in ways for which we are inadequately prepared. The class issue is possibly most difficult to acknowledge in the redevelopment context because class permeates the existing system of property ownership and land regulation. As a first step in addressing the inherent conflicts surrounding class in the issue of redevelopment, this essay delineates a typology of four dimensions of class as it affects, interrelates, and operates with land use law and argues that the dimensions illustrate points of tension that must be considered and resolved in formulating redevelopment practices.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 27, 2006 in Recent Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Proposed Amendment to Louisiana Constitution

The Urban Law Journal has an interesting post on a proposed amendment to the Louisiana Constitution restricting the use of eminent domain.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Floods in Philly

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a very interesting special report on flooding issues, which tie into a number of property and land-use issues.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 26, 2006 in Land Use | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Banned Book: The King Never Smiles

KingneverThis is a little off the usual topic for propertyprof, but it does relate to university presses, a topic that we talk about every now and then here.  So I'll try to pass it off under a "shelter rule."  That is, it's on a topic of interest to propertyprofs, even if it's not property.  (We invoke this rule when talking about law review rankings as well.)

The New York Times has an article (entitled "A Banned Book Challenges a Saintly Image of Thai King") on Paul Handley's book The King Never Smiles (Yale University Press, 2006), about King Bhumibol Adulyade of Thailand.  According to the article, one of Handley's central points is that the king--who has enjoyed very favorable press--has been more concerned with order than democracy.

What particularly interested me were the efforts made by the Thai government to suppress the book, including sending representatives to meet with President George Bush, with Yale University's president, and (apparently) with the director of Yale University Press.  Extraordinary, particularly for a book from a university press.  The press did push back the publication date (so that it would not coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of the monarch's ascension) and also permitted, apparently, Thai officials to comment on the manuscript before it was published.  Both reasonable, though I should imagine, unusal concessions.  (Also, I should emphasize that I am in no position at all to evaluate the merits of Handley's thesis.)

Not surprisingly, the publicity surrounding the attempt to supress its publication (and its banning in Thailand) has led to a lot of sales.  This afternoon it was ranked #259 on Amazon--an astonishingly good performance for a university press book.  Exciting times at YUP, no doubt, even if the king is not smiling....

Alfred Brophy

September 25, 2006 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

McFarlane on Exclusionary Redevelopment

Audrey McFarlane (University of Baltimore - School of Law) has posted Who Fits the Profile?: Thoughts on Race, Class, Clusters and Redevelopment on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This essay shifts the discussion of gentrification and redevelopment to consider the mechanics of exclusion in the formulation and operation of today's commercial retail shopping venues typically included in today's urban redevelopment projects. In particular the essay discusses the exclusionary implications of geo-demographic cluster classification systems that use race and class to construct profiles of desirable customers for urban redevelopment schemes.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Eminent Domain Needed To Build Roads?

Ilya Somin has an interesting post on that subject over at the VC.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

September 25, 2006 in Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)