Friday, June 1, 2012
Brent White (Arizona) has posted Preventing Strategic Default: Lessons from Japan (Arizona J. of Int'l and Comparative Law) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
When individuals purchase homes as investments, they experience pronounced anxiety when home prices decline. This anxiety pushes a significant number of homeowners to strategically default. But, as Japan shows, strategic default can be controlled by managing homebuyers’ expectations, and thus their anxiety, ex ante at the time of purchase.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Will Doing explains how land use rules designed to halt the spread of urban renewal projects in the 70s have had taken on new life as the preferred tool of NIMBY obstructionists:
These rules, designed to check the power of city officials, now perversely consolidate immense power in the hands of a few outspoken “concerned citizens.” By dragging out the building process indefinitely, these people can make it so expensive that deep-pocketed luxury developers have a better chance of surviving it than anyone actually building affordable housing. Worst of all, these rules have created a new norm in which individual residents just assume that their personal opinions should carry great weight in routine planning decisions. According to a 2011 survey, one in five Americans have actively opposed a local development project, and 74 percent want no new development in their communities at all.
James Ely (Vanderbilt) has posted Property Rights and the Supreme Court in the Gilded Age (J. of Supreme Court History) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This article challenges the conventional wisdom about the property-rights jurisprudence of the Supreme Court in the period 1870-1900. It asserts that the Court was animated to protect the rights of property owners as a means of upholding individual liberty against governmental overreaching. The justices saw private property as essential for the enjoyment of liberty. This commitment to individualistic values was reinforced by utilitarian considerations. The Court repeatedly stressed the vital role of property and contractual rights as the basis of economic growth. In upholding property right the justices drew upon the long-standing Anglo-American tradition of property-conscious constitutionalism. The essay concluded that there was a close affinity between the views of the framers of the Constitution concerning the sanctity of property rights and the jurisprudence of the Gilded Age.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
If they're well groomed:
In the June issue of Landscape and Urban Planning, a team of environmental researchers led by Austin Troy of the University of Vermont report an inverse relationship between tree canopy and a variety of crimes in the Baltimore city and county regions. All told, Troy and colleagues conclude that "a 10% increase in tree canopy was associated with a roughly 12% decrease in crime."[...]
The results were not entirely straightforward. In some pockets of Baltimore city, for instance, the presence of trees indeed seemed to increase crime rates, just as some of the previous literature suggests. That was especially true in the outer harbor areas of Brooklyn Park, Wagners Point, and Dundalk — places with poorly groomed vegetation where "the concealment value of the vegetation outweighs its deterrent effect".
The N.Y. Times summarizes:
With rules that take effect next month, federal regulators have hopes of greatly streamlining the short-sale process.
Starting June 15, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will require both agencies to give short-sale buyers a final decision within 60 days. (In a short sale, a lender agrees to accept less than the balance on mortgage). Fannie and Freddie must also respond to initial requests for a short sale within 30 days of receiving the buyer’s submission.
Daniel Mandelker (Washington University in Saint Louis) has posted a number of chapters from his book on design standards in planned communities. The latest contribution is The Constitutionality of Design Standards in Planned Community Regulations. Here's the abstract:
This is the fifth chapter in a book, Designing Planned Communities (2010), that reviews the concepts and ideas that go into the design of planned communities, and explores how local governments can encourage and provide for their good design through land-use regulation. Design standards in planned community regulations can raise constitutional problems because a court can hold them unconstitutionally vague or an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. This problem occurs especially with planned community regulations that contain indeterminate design standards, such as requirements that a planned community’s design be “creative” or “harmonious.” The judicial record on the constitutional issues is mixed. Some courts have struck down stand-alone design standards that are not part of a comprehensive program for regulating planned communities, but some have not. Courts have upheld design standards when they are one element in a program of planned community regulation. Even when the courts have struck down design standards, they have provided drafting guidelines that can avoid constitutional problems. The entire book can be downloaded by going to the author's profile on Washington University Law School's website.