PropertyProf Blog

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Univ. of Kentucky College of Law

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Changing Conceptions of Property Seminar

Via the Legal History Blog, I learned that the Folger Library is holding a seminar titled "Changing Conceptions of Property" that will meet on Thursday and Friday afternoons between May 14 and June 12, 2009.  Here's the annoucement:

This seminar, sponsored by the Center for the History of British Political Thought, will examine the radically changing character of a fundamental concept in political and legal thought: property. Its shifting meanings in early modern Britain mirrored, and in many respects, drove, transformations of the emerging understanding of rights. Property originally indicated the right or title of a possessor to a thing possessed (with the possessor's entitlement to legal protection and political membership). During the seventeenth century, however, property came to designate the thing possessed. Participants will examine the conceptual history of property, from real property in land to personal property in goods, capital, or credit, which increasingly defined the individual as a political agent with the capacity to act in society. Primary readings will be drawn from the common law mind through Harrington and Locke to the Scottish Enlightenment and Adam Smith. Session topics may include: the role of property in commerce and political economy; the social and legal agency of women as derived through property; and the use of property as a justification for its expropriation from indigenous peoples. Research projects may address social conventions and practices influenced by changing discourses of property, cultural pressures under which those discourses changed, or varieties of discourse in which property figures. Invited faculty will contribute their perspectives.

More info is available through the Library's website.

Ben Barros

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December 17, 2008 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Glaeser and Gyourko on Federal Housing Policy

Edward L. Glaeser (Harvard Economics) and Joseph Gyourko (Wharton) have a new book out from AEI called Rethinking Federal Housing Policy.  The book is available as a pdf from the AEI website through the previous link.  Here's the publisher's blurb:

Despite the recent drop in house prices, housing remains unaffordable for many ordinary Americans. Particularly along the coasts, housing remains extremely expensive. In Rethinking Federal Housing Policy: How to Make Housing Plentiful and Affordable, Edward L. Glaeser and Joseph Gyourko explain why housing is so expensive in some areas and outline a plan for making it more affordable.

Policymakers must recognize that conditions differ across housing markets, so housing policies need to reflect those differences. The poor and the middle class do not struggle with the same affordability issues, so housing policy needs to address each problem differently. The poor cannot afford housing simply because their incomes are low; the solution to that problem is direct income transfers to the poor, rather than interference with the housing market. 

In contrast, housing is unaffordable for the middle class because of local zoning restrictions on new home construction that limit the supply of suitable housing. The federal government can sensibly address this issue by providing incentives for local governments in these markets to allow more construction.

Ironically, current subsidies for construction of low-income housing only tie impoverished Americans to areas where they have limited job prospects. These supply subsidies also crowd out private-sector construction and benefit politically-connected developers. Mortgage interest deductions, which are intended to make housing more affordable for the middle class, simply allow families who can already afford a house to purchase a bigger one. In restricted, affluent markets, these deductions increase the amount families can pay for a house, driving up prices even higher.

Glaeser and Gyourko propose a comprehensive overhaul of federal housing policy that takes into account local regulations and economic conditions. Reform of the home mortgage interest deduction would provide incentives to local governments to allow the market to provide more housing, preventing unnecessary price inflation. Federal subsidies for the production of low-income housing should be eliminated and the funds reallocated to increase the scope of federal housing voucher programs which allow poor households to relocate to areas of greater economic promise.

A radical rethinking of policy is needed to allow housing markets to operate freely--and to make housing affordable and plentiful for the middle class and the poor.

Ben Barros

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December 16, 2008 in Books, Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Byrne on Gettysburg and Historic Preservation

J. Peter Byrne (Georgetown) has posted Hallowed Ground: The Gettysburg Battlefield in Historic Preservation Law on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This article seeks to deepen legal analysis of historic preservation law by analyzing how contemporary presuppositions and legal tools shape changing preservation approaches. It is organized around legal disputes concerning the Gettysburg battlefield, a site of great national significance, which has been preserved in different forms for nearly 150 years. The paper describes the history of preservation at Gettysburg. It argues that the Supreme Court's constitutional approval of federal acquisition of battlefield land in 1896 reflected contemporary conservative nationalism. It also analyzes how legal tools for preservation of land surrounding the battlefield have evolved from simple ownership to coordinated regulation and contract, breaking down the traditional stark division between protected and commercial land. Finally, the article examines how the National Historic Preservation Act governs government choices about what to preserve and how to interpret it. Because preservation of a site associated with a significant event inevitably will reflect contemporary interpretative biases, the law should mandate inclusive processes for making preservation choices and encourage the presentation of multiple perspectives.

Ben Barros

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December 16, 2008 in Land Use, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Salkin on Land Use Ethics

Patricia Salkin (Albany) has posted Ethical Considerations in Land Use Law Blowing in the Wind on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This paper focuses on current legal issues in ethical considerations in land use planning and zoning decision making with a particular emphasis on a new code of ethics for wind farm development recently announced by the New York Attorney General.

Ben Barros

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December 16, 2008 in Land Use, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Eviction of Tenants From Foreclosed Apartments

Mark Edwards has some interesting thoughts on this issue over at the Co-op.

Ben Barros

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December 15, 2008 in Real Estate Transactions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)