Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday's Architecture Moment

Zaha Hadid's splendid opera house in the wastelands of Guangzhou, China:

It says something about the state of architecture today that the most alluring opera house built anywhere in the world in decades is in a generic new business district at the outer edge of this city, has no resident company and a second-rate program.


Steve Clowney

(photo found through Creative Commons search)

July 8, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rental Vacany Rate Falls

Across the country, apartment vacancies are dropping fast and rents are starting to creep up.  If you're looking for signs that the economy is about to turn around, this might be a good sign.  If buying a home becomes more attractive versus renting that should kick-start the construction sector of the economy, which will lower unemployment, which will allow more people to buy more homes...


Steve Clowney

(Graph from

July 8, 2011 in Home and Housing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Favorite Video: Ikea and Irrational Attachment to Property II

Apropos of the earlier post, if you happen to be looking for an IKEA-themed example of our irrational attachment to property, there's a much better video available than Dan Ariely's take.  Here's a wonderful commercial from the retail giant that perfectly illustrates the weird human relationship to stuff:

Few of us, I think, are above such sentimentality.  I still get sad thinking about the rusting, 10 year-old car that I traded in last summer.  I look for that little Toyota Echo whenever I'm on the road, hoping that it found a good home. 

Steve Clowney

July 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Ikea Effect and Locke's Theory of Property

Eric Johnson has a great post over at Prawfsblawg on John Locke and IKEA:

I'm reading Predictably Irrational a behavioral economics popularization by Dan Ariely. I was struck by how much Ariely's exposition of irrational human attitudes toward ownership tracks John Locke's theoretical justification for private ownership of property. Ariely writes:

[T]he more work you put into something, the more ownership you begin to feel for it. Think about the last time you assembled some furniture. Figuring out which piece goes where and which screw fits into which hole boosts the feeling of ownership. ... I can say with a fair amount of certainty that pride of ownership is inversely proportionally to the ease with which one assembles the furniture ...
(Predictably Irrational, p. 175)

Ariely calls this the "Ikea effect." For me, living with a bunch of furniture I got from Ikea about 10 years ago, I would say the Ikea effect is that the more time I wasted assembling the furniture back then, the greater is my present-day desire to destroy it with an aluminum baseball bat.

If Ariely/Locke is correct, why do I also have such mixed feelings about my IKEA furniture?  Is Ariely just wrong?  Is it because I know IKEA stuff is cheap and the self-assembly reminds me of that? 

I think it's that the dollars that I spent on my enormous recliner (I'm talking two cup-holder big!) are actually a better representation of my "labor" than the horrible hour spent putting together my latest Hoovelstrum.  I feel more invested in my fancy furniture because I know how many hours I had to work to be able to afford it.  


Steve Clowney

July 7, 2011 in Property Theory | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Great Moments in Property Signage - Fourth of July Edition

From my neighborhood:



Steve Clowney

July 6, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Robertson on Public Access to Private Land for Walking

H_ROBERTSON Heidi Robertson (Cleveland State) has posted Public Access to Private Land for Walking: Environmental and Individual Responsibility as Rationale for Limiting the Right to Exclude (Georgetown Int'l Envtl Law Journal) on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Whether people have an independent right of access to walk on land they do not own is a question answered differently throughout the world, largely due to cultural, historical, and political variations amongst regions. In this decade, English citizens gained a legislated right to roam on privately owned land designated by the government for public access. The British government now designates land as access land by evaluating the nature of the land itself, not its ownership status. In Sweden, the right to roam on land owned by another has long been a deeply rooted cultural tradition, though not codified in law. Other countries have adopted variations of a right of access, while some, like the United States, continue largely to resist it, choosing instead to hold property owners’ right to exclude above a public right of access. This paper looks at some of the historical and cultural reasons countries have adopted, cherished, or rejected a public right of access to privately owned land. In particular, it focuses on the degree to which each culture values environmental and individual responsibility.

To do so, it considers the Scandinavian countries, with an emphasis on Sweden, where a public right of access is longstanding and cherished, and there is a corresponding deep respect for the environment and individual responsibility. It then considers England, which has moved decisively toward granting broader rights of access to certain types of land through legislation, grounding that expansion on the satisfaction of certain rules pertaining to environmental and individual responsibility. It also looks briefly at several countries in Europe,where environmental and individual responsibility, as well as other cultural factors, have supported expanded rights of access. Finally, it raises the question why the United States does not have, and will not likely achieve, a similar legislated or cultural right of access to private land for walking.

I saw Heidi give a version of this paper at ALPS and thought it was terrific.  I'm going to bring some of this research into my class this year.  In particular, I think her case study of Sweden provides a great counterpoint to the right to exclude cases in Dukeminier.

Steve Clowney

July 6, 2011 in Property Theory, Servitudes | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Economic Woes Taking Toll on Public Housing

The 2011 federal budget imposed serious budget cuts on public housing programs.  HUD's Community Development Fund program, money used to redevelop poverty-stricken neighborhoods, took a $942 million hit.  Congress slashed the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a federal block grant program, by $215 million.  Additionally, some veterans housing programs, Indian housing grants, and housing counseling programs all lost funds.

The effects of all those cuts are now beginning to bubble up in communities around the country.  Here's an illustrative stroy from Pittsburgh:

That's because public housing agencies, which put roofs over the heads of 31,438 households in the Pittsburgh region, have gotten word that funding from Washington is about to plunge to levels last seen during some of the thriftiest years of President George W. Bush's administration. President Barack Obama, after fully funding public housing during his first two budgets, is now asking authorities nationwide to absorb steep cuts by drawing down their savings accounts and putting off major repairs.


What's odd about this budget is that housing authorites that have worked diligently to save money for  reconstruction projects will face larger funding cuts.  This gets the incentives all wrong.  Going forward, why would any place want to plan well and be a good stewards of public resources.  If you burn the money immediately, nobody can take it from you.
Steve Clowney

July 5, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kanner on the Enforcement of Property Rights in Public and Private Law

Kanner Allan Kanner (Kanner & Whiteley) has posted Public and Private Law on SSRN (Tulane Envtl Law Journal).  Here's the abstract:

This article explores the impact of state and federal environmental laws and regulations on landowners' property rights, and their constitutionally protected rights of access to the courts, which have historically been employed by property owners to protect those property rights. These private actions include actions for nuisance, negligence and strict liability for abnormally dangerous activities. At the same time, new public law regulatory schemes have emerged to deal with these same activities and intrusions.

The co-existence of public and private laws addressing environmental hazards raises a number of important issues. One question is when, if at all, may legislation establishing an administrative regime be invoked defensively to validate and legitimate conduct that would, under judicial scrutiny at private law, be deemed to damage the property of another, or interfere unreasonably with the use and enjoyment of another's property? In other words, when, if at all, does a civil wrong cease being an immediately actionable wrong?

The answer proposed here is that it rarely makes sense to delay the prosecution of an otherwise actionable civil wrong. Most arguments in favor of delay improperly attempt to create an expression of legislative will to compel the weighing of pragmatic concerns of dubious authenticity and substance against constitutional rights expressly created to protect one's property and to authorize private actions in service of the same goal. More troubling are the extreme misrepresentations one sees in arguments concerning the forms, limits, and practice of public environmental law which are advanced to defeat property rights.

Steve Clowney

July 5, 2011 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Recent SSRN Downloads

Ssrn In honor of the beginning of the month, here are the most downloaded property articles over the last 60 days.

1.  [334 downloads] Federal Constitutions: The Keystone of Nested Commons Governance  by Blake Hudson (Stetson).

2.  [198 downloads] The Hamlyn Lectures 2011: The Rule of Law and the Measure of Property  by Jeremy Waldron (NYU).

3.  [155 downloads] The Judicial Reaction to Kelo  by Ilya Somin (George Mason).

4.  [144 downloads] Property Law as the Infrastructure of Democracy by Joseph William Singer (Harvard).

5.  [141 downloads] Stop the Beach Renourishment and the Problem of Judicial Takings by Ilya Somin (George Mason).

6.  [79 downloads] Commercializing Property Rights in Inventions: Lessons for Modern Patent Theory from Classic Patent Doctrine by Adam Mossoff (George Mason).

7.  [69 downloads] Mortgage Modification and Strategic Behavior: Evidence from a Legal Settlement with Countrywide by Christopher J. Mayer, Edward R. Morrison, Tomasz Piskorski, & Arpit Gupta (Columbia).

8.  [69 downloads] Judges and Property by Hanoch Dagan (Tel Aviv).

9   [69 downloads] Ability to Pay by John Pottow (Michigan).

10.  [62 downloads] Proposed Exactions by Timothy M. Mulvaney (Texas Wesleyan).

Steve Clowney

July 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conference News: Coastal Climate Change Adaptation at UConn

The University of Connecticut School of Law is hosting a symposium on  "Legal Solutions to Coastal Climate Change Adaptation in Connecticut."  The conference is scheduled for February 10, 2012.  The organizers write, "we invite papers that lay out the existing legal and regulatory structure in Connecticut as well as in other states, identify gaps and obstacles in these approaches, present innovative and environmentally sound approaches to climate change adaptation and stimulate legal thinking on legal and policy remedies to this issue of international importance. All submitted papers must contain a legal, policy or regulatory approach, solution or tool designed to facilitate climate change adaptation in Connecticut."

Here's a link to the important info:

Steve Clowney

July 4, 2011 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)