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Friday, March 23, 2007

Times on Blight and Foreclosures

From an article in today's NY Times:

In a sign of the spreading economic fallout of mortgage foreclosures, several suburbs of Cleveland, one of the nation’s hardest-hit cities, are spending millions of dollars to maintain vacant houses as they try to contain blight and real-estate panic.

In suburbs like this one, officials are installing alarms, fixing broken windows and mowing lawns at the vacant houses in hopes of preventing a snowball effect, in which surrounding property values suffer and worried neighbors move away. The officials are also working with financially troubled homeowners to renegotiate debts or, when eviction is unavoidable, to find apartments.

“It’s a tragedy and it’s just beginning,” Mayor Judith H. Rawson of Shaker Heights, a mostly affluent suburb, said of the evictions and vacancies, a problem fueled by a rapid increase in high-interest, subprime loans.

“All those shaky loans are out there, and the foreclosures are coming,” Ms. Rawson said. “Managing the damage to our communities will take years.”

Cuyahoga County, including Cleveland and 58 suburbs, has one of the country’s highest foreclosure rates, and officials say the worst is yet to come. In 1995, the county had 2,500 foreclosures; last year there were 15,000. Officials blame the weak economy and housing market and a rash of subprime loans for the high numbers, and the unusual prevalence of vacant houses.

Ben Barros

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March 23, 2007 in Land Use | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Glaeser on Regional Coordination

Edward L. Glaeser (Harvard University) has posted Do Regional Economies Need Regional Coordination? on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Over the past century, America changed from a nation of distinct cities separated by farmland, to a place where employment and population density is far more continuous. For some purposes, it makes sense to think of the U.S. as consisting of a number of contiguous megaregions. Using the megaregion definitions of the Regional Plan Association, this paper documents the remarkable differences between these areas in productivity, housing prices, commute times and growth rates. Moreover, over the past 20 years, the fastest growing regions have not been those with the highest income or the most attractive climates. Flexible housing supply seems to be the key determinant of regional growth. Land use regulations seem to drive housing supply and determine which regions are growing. A more regional approach to housing supply might reduce the tendency of many localities to block new construction.

Ben Barros

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March 22, 2007 in Land Use, Property Theory, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wilkie v. Robbins

Over at the VC, Jonathan Adler has an interesting post on Wilkie v. Robbins, a potentially important property case that was argued before the Supreme Court yesterday.  An excerpt:

The facts of the case are straightforward: The federal Bureau of Land Management acquired an easement on a ranch, but neglected to record it. Robbins subsequently purchased the ranch and, due to the BLM's mistake, acquired the property sans easement. BLM officials demanded that he sign it over anyway, and when Robbins refused the government officials sought to give him a "hardball education" and retaliated by, among other things, harassing Robbins and his guests, filing trumped up charges against him. After this conduct continued for some time, Robbins had enough and sued the BLM agents involved for damages, and won.

The issue is whether the Fifth Amendment protects property owners against this type of retaliation.  The case has some takings aspects and some substantive due process aspects.  It will be interesting to see what the Court does with it.

UPDATE:  ScotusBlog also has a detailed post on the case.

UPDATE2:  Ilya Somin has some additional comments at the VC.

Ben Barros

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March 20, 2007 in Recent Cases, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Stake on Estates and Future Interests

Jeff Stake (Indiana-Bloomington) has posted Summary of Key Rules in the Law of Estates and Future Interests on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

The rules of law governing estates in land and future interests are boiled down as much as possible, but hopefully not more so.

As members of the PropertyProf listserv know, Jeff is one of the most knowledgeable people around on issues of future interests and estates in land.  Highly recommended, especially for students looking for secondary material on these issues.

Ben Barros

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March 20, 2007 in Estates In Land, Future Interests and the RAP, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bell on Policing Neighborhood Boundaries

Jeannine Bell (Indiana University Bloomington) has posted Policing Neighborhood Boundaries: Violence, Racial Exclusion, and the Persistence of Segregation on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

In this paper, I argue that the problem of violence directed at minorities in white neighborhoods is far broader than just encompassing violence directed at them at the point of their move to a neighborhood. My study of cases prosecuted under federal civil rights law has revealed numerous cases over the past twenty years in which acts of violence, threats and harassment have been specifically aimed at forcing out Black, Asian, Latino and Middle-Eastern residents who are not newcomers to the predominately white neighborhoods in which they live. I lump such violence, along with violence and harassment aimed at minorities who have recently moved to a white neighborhood, under the broad category anti-integrationist violence.

Ben Barros

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March 19, 2007 in Land Use, Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)