May 6, 2011
How a Map Divided Virginia
I love old maps. Seeing the landscape as others did in the past helps us understand their actions better. Such is the case with the unusual propoganda maps highlighted by the New York Times in its Disunion series yesterday.
On the verge of the Civil War, Virginia wrestled with whether to secede. The first two proposals to do so were defeated. As the Times explains:
"This was partly a matter of geography: slavery was relatively rare in the western counties, and as the crisis intensified residents there began to see secession as primarily driven by the interests of slaveholders. As easterners became more strident about their rights, those in the west began to see themselves as a separate group with fundamentally different interests."
Virginia voted to secede on May 23rd, and three days later, federal troops crossed the Ohio River into the western counties, to support them in their efforts to secede from Virginia and stay in the Union. In a complementary effort, the United States Coast Survey released a map of Virginia that was the first to use U.S. Census data cartographically. It highlighted the concentration of slaves in Virginia counties by shading -- the darker the county, the more slaves, the lighter the county, the fewer. A second version even drew a line around the western counties and dubbed them "Kanawha."
There is much more information in the article about the Union's use of maps to highlight divisions within the Confederacy. A very interesting article about the power of maps!
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Shannon on Repose Protection for Home Builders
Brian Shannon (Texas Tech) has posted The Reach for Repose: Have the Texas Courts Gone Awry? (Texas Tech Law Journal) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
What do lawsuits filed against building contractors or repairers, other construction professionals, and manufacturers or suppliers of products such as furnaces, elevators, garage door openers, underground storage tanks, and spray-on ceiling materials have in common? All of these actions, provided they have been initiated ten or more years after either the completion of the building project or the manufacture of the item in question, are potentially subject to a statute of repose enacted by the Texas Legislature in 1975. Although the language of this statute is couched in terms of providing repose protection to persons who construct or repair improvements to real property, Texas courts and federal courts applying Texas law have not limited the reach of the statute to cases involving construction professionals. Instead, the courts have greatly expanded the statute's range of applicability to cover off-site manufacturers of products that have become improvements to real property. In this regard, the courts are in error. With respect to persons other than construction professionals, the Texas courts have both misconstrued the statute of repose and virtually ignored the legislative history of the act. Accordingly, this article will examine the Texas statute of repose relating to persons who construct or repair improvements to real property in the context of both the decided cases and with regard to the intentions of the legislature in enacting the repose protections.
May 5, 2011
FHA Loans Still the Best?
Kenneth Harney of the L.A. Times reports that although FHA has raised some fees, it still offers homebuyers many advantages over its private-sector rivals:
The FHA . . . continues to offer much higher and more flexible maximum debt-to-income ratios, far more generous underwriting and lower down payments, and will accept FICO scores that conventional lenders and private insurers won't touch.
Royal Wedding Wrap-up
The wedding was terrific. A real fairy-tale come to life. The dress was magnificent, even if the bridesmaid really stole the show. In case you were fretting about the property issues at stake, here's a roundup.
1. The queen gave Kate the understated Cartier “halo” tiara, which was made in 1936 and purchased by King George VI for his wife, Elizabeth (the current Queen's mother).
2. Reports indicate that Kate and Wills did not sign a pre-nup.
(pic: the wee lass wearing the demure Walgreen's tiara)
Demiroglu, Dudley, & James on Strategic Default and the Foreclosure Process
Cam Demiroglu, Evan Dudley, and Christopher James (Florida - Finance) have posted Strategic Default and the Foreclosure Process on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Strategic defaults occur when borrowers default on their mortgages even though they can afford to continue to make their mortgage payments. Prior research suggests that the economic incentives in terms of the borrower’s equity in the home as well as non-economic factors such as moral attitudes about default are important determinants of strategic default. In this paper, we examine how differences in state foreclosure laws impact the likelihood of strategic default. Specifically, we examine how judicial review requirements and lenders’ recourse rights (deficiency judgments) affect the likelihood of default. We argue that state foreclosure laws should have little effect on the likelihood of non-strategic default and thus provide a good instrument for identifying the costs and benefits of strategic default. Consistent with this argument, we find that the effect of state foreclosure laws varies with the borrower’s equity position, with borrower-friendly foreclosure laws having a significantly greater effect on default rates for borrowers with negative equity. We also examine how recent state and federal loan foreclosure-prevention programs have affected the likelihood of strategic default. Overall, we find a significant reduction in the effect of state foreclosure laws on strategic defaults following the introduction of loan modification programs after late 2008. Our results suggest that programs meant to prevent foreclosures have also reduced the effectiveness of foreclosure laws that discourage strategic defaults.
Salkin on Environmental Justice and Land-Use Planning
Patricia Salkin (Albany) has posted Environmental Justice and Land-Use Planning (American Planning Association) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This issue brief explores many opportunities for members of planning and zoning boards, professional planning staff and local elected officials to incorporate environmental justice principles into land use decisionmaking.
May 4, 2011
Severance v. Patterson Update
For all those following the happenings in Severance v. Patterson (important case on the Texas Open Beaches Act), our friends at Land Use Prof have a few updates:
2. Matt Festa gives his two cents and a posts video of a panel discussion on the case.
Grajzl on Property Rights Theory and Legislative Delegation
Peter Grajzl (Washington & Lee - Econ) has posted A Property Rights Approach to Legislative Delegation (Economics of Governance Journal) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This paper applies the property rights theory to study both positive and normative aspects of legislative delegation in a setup where interest groups directly influence lawmaking by initiating regulatory bargaining. A self-interested legislature choosing between the direct exercise of its legislative authority and delegation to an administrative agency must therefore trade off the value of bureaucratic competence against bureaucratic drift and, importantly, loss of control over bargaining. Our analysis, first, clarifies when the legislature's choice between delegation and no delegation is socially efficient or socially inefficient; second, highlights the role of political bargaining and shows that precluding interest group influence through bargaining may actually increase the scope for socially inefficient outcomes; and, third, illustrates the model's predictions in light of selected stylized facts and the practice of scant empirical work on legislative delegation.
Rose on The Due Process Rights of Tenants in Mortgage Foreclosure
Henry Rose (Loyola Chicago) has posted The Due Process Rights of Residential Tenants in Mortgage Foreclosure Cases (New Mexico Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
The purpose of this article is to explore the rights of tenants who reside in buildings undergoing foreclosure to receive notice and an opportunity to be heard when foreclosures threaten to terminate their tenancies. The federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA) will significantly reduce the incidence of residential tenancies being terminated as a result of foreclosure. However, PTFA offers weak procedural protections if the mortgagee or the person who acquires ownership pursuant to a foreclosure seeks to terminate the tenancies of residents in the foreclosed building. In those states that require judicial foreclosures, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution should afford tenants faced with termination of their tenancies due to foreclosure with notice and an opportunity to be heard before their tenancies are terminated. In states that allow non-judicial foreclosures, Due Process protections are not likely to be available to tenants due to a lack of state action in the foreclosure process. PTFA should be amended to afford all tenants, including those who reside in non-judicial foreclosure states, with notice and an opportunity to be heard before their tenancies are terminated pursuant to a foreclosure.
May 3, 2011
The Resurgence of Servants' Quarters in New York City
The NY Times proflies a number of new high-end developments that are building "maid's rooms" into their larger apartments. A gilded age, indeed:
Maid’s rooms built in the 1910s and 1920s tended to be barely six to seven feet wide. Apartments that came equipped with them have three or more family bedrooms and might originally have had more than one maid’s room. At 905 West End, the developer Samson Management took a Classic 8 — which had three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and two maid’s rooms off of the kitchen — and shifted and expanded the bathroom that had been shared by the maid’s rooms, combining the remaining space to create one larger room.
“This way, for people who can have live-in help, they don’t need to fit them in a tiny box; they can have a proper bedroom,” said Louise Phillips Forbes, an executive vice president at Halstead Property who is heading up sales for the building. Listed as four-bedroom apartments, they range from $2.74 million to $2.925 million.
Ely on the Constitution, Property Rights, and Economic Liberty
James Ely (Vanderbilt) has posted The Constitution and Economic Liberty (Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This essay addresses the relationship between the Constitution and Bill of Rights and the concept of economic liberty. It calls into question the famous quip of Justice Holmes in Lochner v. New York (1905) that the Constitution was not intended “to embody a particular economic theory.” The essay contends that the framers of the Constitution clearly envisioned a constitutional order grounded on private property and a market economy. To this end, many provisions of the Constitution pertain to property interests and economic activity. It concludes that, although the Constitution does not endorse a laissez-faire regime, Holmes was wrong to suggest that the Constitution was entirely neutral with respect to economic policy. In fact, the framers favored a free market and sought to protect property and contractual rights.
May 2, 2011
Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Task Force Goes Operational On-Line
Today, Holocaust Rememberance Day, is an exciting day for those of us interested in the restitution of property rights to those who were once wrongfully dispossessed. That's because today, Project Heart's Holocaust Asset Era Restitution Task Force began a process of attempting to link together, on-line, Jews dispossessed during the holocaust (or their heirs) with the expropriated properties. The Project has compiled an archive of 650,000 pieces of property -- characterized in the civil tradition as movable, immovable, and intangible --along with the names of the dispossessed owners. According to the New York Times,
This is the first worldwide list of property confiscated, looted or forcibly sold during the Holocaust era to be made available to survivors and their heirs. Compiled from hundreds of European archives, including tax records and voter registries, it includes real estate and land, movable property like art and jewelry, and intangible personal property like stocks, bonds and savings accounts.
Eligible claimants must fill out an on-line questionnaire describing the property expropriated and their relationship to the former owner.
To be eligible to make a claim, one must be a Jew who was dispossessed during the Nazi era, or the heir of such a person, who has not previously received compensation for the property.
The Project intends to negotiate for the return of the property, and to pursue legal remedies where negotiations are unavailing. It has already secured the cooperation of several European governments.
It is an exciting and important step towards justice.
Mark A. Edwards
[comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]
Public Lands in the West, Ctd
Recent SSRN Downloads
1. [442 downloads] Feeding the Locavores, One Chicken at a Time: Regulating Backyard Chickens by Patricia Salkin (Albany).
2. [387 downloads] Federal Constitutions and Global Governance: The Case of Climate Change by
Blake Hudson (Stetson).
5. [150 downloads] State and Local Regulation of Particular Types of Affordable Housing by Tim Iglesias (San Francisco).
7. [133 downloads] The Case Against Allowing Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) to Initiate Foreclosure Proceedings by Nolan Robinson (Yeshiva).
8. [111 downloads] Integrating Sustainable Development Planning and Climate Change Management: A Challenge to Planners and Land Use Attorneys by Patricia Salkin (Albany) and John R. Nolon (Pace).
10. [95 downloads] Removing Property from Intellectual Property and (Intended?) Pernicious Impacts on Innovation and Competition by F. Scott Kieff (George Washington).
Photos From the Sky Show Chicago's Transformation
Lawrence Okrent, a planning and zoning consultant who moonlights as an aerial photographer, has put together a series of "before" and "after" pictures that document how Chicago has changed over the last 25 years.
The Chicago trib has a nice write-up on the photos and the book that Okrent has put together (“Chicago From the Sky: A Region Transformed” Books Press, $49.50, hardcover, 245 pp.). The paper says, "Okrent’s images are sharp and his text is lucid, shedding light on little-known corners of the region. Who knew, for example, that the number of single-story distribution buildings along the Stevenson Expressway skyrocketed from 12 in 1999 to 193 in 2009 — or that low tax rates in Will County contributed to this little-noticed boomlet (above and left)? Okrent illustrates and explains this change to the landscape with admirable succinctness, writing that the area shifted from “farmland to big boxes in less than a generation.”