Friday, December 17, 2010

Why Republicans Love Zoning

Over at PrawfsBlawg, Rick Hills has a post outlining Governor Christie's attack on the Mt. Laurel doctrine.  Hills then discusses why Republicans, who otherwise endorse private property, love local zoning rules. Hills says:

I think that there are two ways to understand this odd conservative solicitude for suburban zoning. . . . First, race and class might take priority over property rights in conservative ideology. Libertarian rhetoric against intrusive government is just fine -- but not when it allows low- and moderate-income housing to invade your suburban enclave. Second, hostility to redistribution of wealth might trump hostility to regulation in conservative ideology. By insuring that each resident live in a structure of similar value, restrictive zoning insures that each resident pays a similar property tax bill, thereby transforming ad valorem property taxes into an annual fee reflecting the average costs of living in the jurisdiction.

A thoughtful, well-argued post.

Steve Clowney

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December 17, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iglesias on Regulation of Affordable Housing

Tim Iglesias (U. San Francisco) has posted State and Local Regulation of Particular Types of Affordable Housing on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This chapter is part of "The Legal Guide to Affordable Housing Development", a practical guidebook covering most important areas of law that apply to affordable housing development. This chapter analyzes a wide variety of state and local regulation affecting the development of several types of affordable housing which are neither traditional single family nor multi-family. Specifically, the chapter discusses statutes, ordinances, regulations and leading case law concerning the siting of manufactured housing (Section II), farmworker housing (Section III), accessory or secondary units (Section IV), single room occupancy hotels (SROs) (Section V), condominium conversion regulation (Section VI), and emergency shelters and transitional housing, including domestic violence shelters (Section VII).

Ben Barros

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December 17, 2010 in Home and Housing, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Coolest Infographic Ever

The New York Times latest feature is, quite simply, a treasure.  The paper's computer whiz has taken the data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and transformed it into a series of completely searchable and user-friendly maps.  It's now possible to visualize the geography of segregation, income, educational achievement, and housing expenditures for any location in the country (Seriously - it covers every block in every city!).  Here, for example, is a map of the household income distribution of New York City:

Picture 3

A red dots indicates 100 households making above $200,000 a year.  A light blue dot represents 100 households making less than $30,000.  This is just very, very, very cool.   

Steve Clowney

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December 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Using Facebook to Illustrate Land Use Issues?

I admit that I'm a bit of a gamer.  I will even admit that I spend time playing Zynga games on Facebook.  (You know... FarmVille, Mafia Wars, etc.)  And perhaps this just me trying to justify wasting my time harvesting virtual crops, but I'm thinking that the newest Zynga game, CityVille, might actually be a useful tool for Property students to conceptualize some land use issues.  There is an article about CityVille here.  If you've ever played SimCity, its very similar, but free. 

Everyone starts with the same blank slate and resources, but then you can design your city in any way you choose.  Some designs and allocations of resources work better than others.  The aesthetic employed by the game is interesting because players get a bonus if they use green space elements like flowers and shade trees next to housing and businesses.  

I'm thinking about having my Property students sign up for CityVille when we get to Land Use, play it for a week and then compare their creations with each other and use that experience as a springboard for a discussion of zoning, restrictive covenants, etc.


Tanya Marsh

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December 15, 2010 in Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Worst Rental Unit in the World?

In case you're looking for real-life landlord/tenant problems to incorporate into your exam:

Several notable features of Flatbush Gardens, a 59-building rental complex in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, are missing from its inviting ads, which show comely young couples enjoying life there.  Among the site’s woes: dried feces and toilet paper carpet some basements, unleashing an unholy stink; one of its owners, David Bistricer, is on the New York City public advocate’s “worst landlords” list; and it has 8,100 outstanding building violations, 400 of which have been added in the past two months. . . .  In October, the workers filed a complaint with the Occupational Saftey and Health Administration, citing conditions like overflowing raw sewage, leaking overhead waste pipes and vermin infestations.

Steve Clowney

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December 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Midterm in Property?

I'm working on my first syllabus for Property, a 4 credit spring course.  I am considering having a midterm a week before Spring Break.  The midterm would make up probably 40% of the final grade and the final exam would be non-cumulative.

This is not an original idea -- another Wake Forest Property Prof does the same thing.  I'm wondering how many other Property Profs give a midterm and what you see as the advantages and disadvantages.  Here's my initial list of pros and cons:


-- The midterm would be given a week after we wrap up the material on estates in land and future interests.  The main "pro" is that students would be tested on future interests while the material is still fresh in their minds and they wouldn't waste a lot of their finals prep time with the material.

-- The ABA (and many other folks) think that midterms are a good idea, for a variety of different reasons.


-- Possible student revolt at the prospect of a test on future interests a week before Spring Break?

-- I would end up spending Spring Break grading midterms.


Property Profs, I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

Tanya Marsh

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December 14, 2010 in Teaching | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Is It Abandoned, or Is It Theft?

From today's New York Times, a classic tale about abandoned property -- or is it?  New York seems to think appliances left curbside have not been abandoned, but rather given to the City, and that taking them constitutes theft.  The common law, of course, would beg to differ: it's axiomatic that when control over property has been voluntarily relinquished, it is abandoned, and belongs to its finder / next possessor.  Perhaps the City could argue that at the instant the appliances reach the curb, possession has been transferred to the City, and control over the appliances has not been voluntarily relinquished by the City.  I feel an exam hypo coming on.

Mark A. Edwards

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December 14, 2010 in Finding | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rose on Governing the Commons

Carol Rose (Arizona) has posted Ostrom and the Lawyers: The Impact of Governing the Commons on the American Legal Academy (Int'l Journal of the Commons).  Here's the abstract:

American legal academics began to cite Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons (GC) shortly after its 1990 publication, with citations peaking in the mid 2000s and with signs of a new peak in 2010 in the wake of Ostrom’s Nobel Prize in Economics. The legal scholars most interested in GC have worked in three areas: general property theory, environmental and natural resource law, and since the mid 1990s, intellectual property. In all those areas legal scholars have found GC and its many examples a strong source of support for the proposition that people can cooperate to overcome common pool resource issues, managing resources through informal norms rather than either individual property or coercive government. Legal academics have also been at least mildly critical of GC as well, however. A number have tried to balance the attractive features of GC’s governance model-stability and sustainability-with more standard legal models favoring toward open markets, fluid change and egalitarianism.

 Steve Clowney

December 13, 2010 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fracking as Nuisance?

Thanks to reader Lee Van Put for pointing me to this article arguing that nuisance law might be used to put a break on gas drilling in the Northeast.  The basic argument that drilling practices that cause harm to neighbors might be a nuisance seems reasonable to me.  It strikes me that this can't be the first time this kind of issue has come up for drilling practices - anyone know of any specific precedents?  The harm/benefit scenario reminds me of Boomer, which would be controlling in New York - damages might be awarded rather than an injunction.

Ben Barros

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December 13, 2010 in Natural Resources, Nuisance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)