Saturday, October 20, 2007

Advice to Law Journals: Part 12

Gonzogizmos 12    select articles based on the quality of ideas in them

Sometimes articles may not be a thorough exploration of a topic, but instead have some really creative (cr maybe just simply sound) ideas at their center.  Look favorably on those kinds of articles.  As you read an article, ask yourself: does this make sense?  If so, that's a good sign.

The image needs a little explanation.  I was searching for a picture that would convey "good idea"--thought about a light bulb or a paper clip, but I settled on a book of cool science projects you can build at home.

Alfred L. Brophy

October 20, 2007 in Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fennell on Homeownership 2.0

Lee Anne Fennell (U. Chicago) has posted Homeownership 2.0 on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Current legal arrangements make homeowners high-stakes gamblers. Homebuyers routinely take on crushing debt loads to put huge sums of money into risky, undiversified ventures that are utterly out of their personal control -- local housing markets. That these markets typically post positive returns over time is of little comfort to those caught on the downside of housing market volatility. Moreover, because rights to these expected gains are priced into the home, many would-be buyers are priced out of the market. The shortcomings of the homeowner's standard investment package have not escaped notice, and for decades scholars and innovators have tried to devise better ways to manage the upside and downside risks of owning a home. Derivatives markets for such risk have recently begun to emerge, due in large part to the collaborative efforts of Karl Case, Robert Shiller, and Allan Weiss. As the technical capacity to slice, dice, and trade homeownership risk advances, this paper steps back to examine how a reduced-risk version of homeownership fits together with property theory, human cognition, and the social dynamics of neighborhoods and metropolitan areas. To explore these questions, I present a new tenure form -- Homeownership 2.0 -- that seeks to optimally unbundle certain investment components from the core homeownership package.

Ben Barros

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October 19, 2007 in Property Theory, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

O'Toole on Debunking Portland

Randal O'Toole (Cato Institute) has posted Debunking Portland: The City that Doesn't Work on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Though many people consider Portland, Oregon, a model of 21st-century urban planning, the region's integrated land-use and transportation plans have greatly reduced the area's livability. To halt urban sprawl and reduce people's dependence on the automobile, Portland's plans use an urban-growth boundary to greatly increase the area's population density, spend most of the region's transportation funds on various rail transit projects, and promote construction of scores of high-density, mixed-use developments.

When judged by the results rather than the intentions, the costs of Portland's planning far outweigh the benefits. Planners made housing unaffordable to force more people to live in multifamily housing or in homes on tiny lots. They allowed congestion to increase to near-gridlock levels to force more people to ride the region's expensive rail transit lines. They diverted billions of dollars of taxes from schools, fire, public health, and other essential services to subsidize the construction of transit and high-density housing projects.

Those high costs have not produced the utopia planners promised. Far from curbing sprawl, high housing prices led tens of thousands of families to move to Vancouver, Washington, and other cities outside the region's authority. Far from reducing driving, rail transit has actually reduced the share of travel using transit from what it was in 1980. And developers have found that so-called transit-oriented developments only work when they include plenty of parking.

Portland-area residents have expressed their opposition to these plans by voting against light rail and density and voting for a property-rights measure that allows landowners to claim either compensation or waivers for land-use rules passed since they purchased their property. Opposition turned to anger when a 2004 scandal revealed that an insider network known as the light-rail mafia had manipulated the planning process to direct rail construction contracts and urban-renewal subsidies to themselves.

These problems are all the predictable result of a process that gives a few people enormous power over an entire urban area. Portland should dismantle its planning programs, and other cities that want to maintain their livability would do well to study Portland as an example of how not to plan.

Ben Barros

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October 19, 2007 in Land Use, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Anticompetitive Behavior in the Residential Real Estate Market

Todd Zywicki at the VC has an interesting post on various barriers to competition in the residential real estate market.  Todd's post highlights two very useful resources.  First, the antitrust division of the DOJ has set up a website on competition issues in residential real estate.  Second, Forbes has an excellent article on the title insurance market.  The article explains how lack of competition dramatically increases title insurance costs to consumers.

Ben Barros

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October 18, 2007 in Real Estate Transactions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CNN: Trailer park becomes magnet for sex offenders ran an interesting story today about a trailer park in Florida that has allegedly become a haven for convicted sex offenders.  Under local law, sex offenders are apparently prohibited from living near schools, churches, playgrounds, and bus stops.  The trailer park, which is not located within the restricted areas, has attracted many sex offenders from different parts of the state, in part because the manager encourages them to move there for rehabilitation purposes.  However, this has angered some residents, who feel that they should have been informed about the management's plans.

The casebook I use in first-year Property (Dukeminier) includes a short summary of Mulligan v. Panther Valley Property Owners Association, a case involving a gated community that voted to restrict certain sex offenders from residing therein.  When I discuss this case in class, I ask the students whether restrictions like this will force sex offenders to congregate in areas that are unable to impose such barriers to entry, thus putting residents of those neighborhoods at greater risk.  This seems to be exactly what is happening in the Florida trailer park, but the management of the park seems to view it as a positive development.  As anti-sex-offender ordinances become more common, we may see more communities like this emerging.  Time will tell.

Josh Tate

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October 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Advice to Law Journals: Part 11

11 look favorably on articles that thoroughly explore their topic.

I thought about leaving my entry at that.  But I think this deserves a little explanation.  Certainly we're all familiar with articles that open up an entirely new area for discussion and, thus, may not be thorough explorations of a topic.  But many successful pieces get to the bottom of their topic.  A piece that's thoroughly researched and the definitive word on a topic--even a narrow one--has a good chance of being successful.

Alfred Brophy
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October 17, 2007 in Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bleg: Classic Incidents of Property Ownership

We often speak of the four classic incidents of property ownership:  the rights to exclude, use, possess, and alienate.  I have limited research access at the moment, and was wondering about the origins and/or classic statements of this conception of property.  Can anyone point me in the right direction?


Ben Barros

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October 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Eagle on Blight and Condemnation

Steven J. Eagle (George Mason) has posted Does Blight Really Justify Condemnation? on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This article asserts, contrary to existing law, that blight condemnation is inconsistent with the fundamental distinction between eminent domain, which arrogates private goods for public use, and the police power, which protects the public from harm. When conditions on a parcel constitute a threat to public health and safety, the landowner should be ordered to abate. If the owner is unable or unwilling to do so, the dangerous condition should be abated by government under its police power. The cost of abatement should be treated as a betterment assessment, which become a lien on the land and, if unpaid, should result in a foreclosure sale. Thereafter, the land could be redeveloped by the purchaser or its designee.

One practical result of abatement and foreclosure is that an owner has an incentive to abate, or to sell to a neighbor or redeveloper who would abate, perhaps in combination with abatement on other nearby parcels similarly situated. Should the parcel go through foreclosure, its redeveloper is selected through a transparent process of competitive bidding. This likely would reduce unjustified blight condemnation resulting from rent seeking manifested through political favoritism towards selected redevelopers. Also, re-channeling redevelopment through market actors would reduce grandiose and wasteful redevelopment schemes.

Ben Barros

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October 15, 2007 in Recent Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)