March 15, 2013
Need a Property Visitor in 2013-2014?
Here's a message from Dale Whitman, professor of property at Missouri.
Friends: I'm interested in teaching as a visitor at another law school (or two) during the 2013-2014 academic year (Fall 2013 and Winter 2014).
My usual courses are:
Property (any portion or all)
Real Estate Finance
Land Use Planning
Advanced Real Estate Development
I would consider any area of the US, but have a mild preference for warm sunny regions during the Winter. Either a one-semester or full-year visit might be of interest to me.
Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Missouri
(I’ll be out of the country on Spring Break until March 25.)
Dale is too modest to say in his email, but he's definitively one of the nation's leading experts on property law. He served as co-reporter of the ALI's Restatement (Third) of Property (Mortgages) and has collaborated on five casebooks in real estate finance and property.
Carbon Beach Update
Eduardo Peñalver reminds me that Carbon Beach has been the locus for a number of infamous property battles. It played a role in the fight for beach access in California, which the well-heeled owners of Carbon Beach waterfront property perpetrated back in 2005.
It was also the location of the fight between David Geffen and the Coastal Commission, which stretched over nearly a decade and inspired several Doonsebury strips.
Blocher on Selling State Borders
Joseph Blocher (Duke) has posted Selling State Borders (Penn Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Sovereign territory was bought and sold throughout much of American history, and there are good reasons to think that an interstate market for borders could help solve many contemporary economic and political problems. But no such market currently exists. Why not? And could an interstate market for sovereign territory help simplify border disputes, resolve state budget crises, respond to exogenous shocks like river accretion, and improve democratic responsiveness? Focusing on the sale of borders among American states, this Article offers constitutional, political, and ethical answers to the first question, and a qualified yes to the second.
March 14, 2013
Welcome to Billionare's Row
Morgan Brennan takes a quick look at Carbon Beach in Los Angeles, generally regarded as one of the priciest stretches of real estate in the world:
Subdivided by Malibu's founding family, the Rindges, in the 1930s, Carbon now commands upward of $200,000 per foot of beachfront. The draw for Hollywood's power players? It's the city's deepest, driest strip of sand and less than 20 miles from Tinseltown. "Carbon Beach is home to the people who write the checks in Hollywood," says Stephen Shapiro of Westside Estate Agency. And the beach has public access, so go hang ten -- ten figures.
Sepe & White on the Effects of Urban Disorder
Simone Sepe (Arizona) and Brent White (Arizona) have posted The New City Beautiful: Urban Infrastructure and the Rule of Law on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
article argues that urban physical disorder weakens the relational
social contract upon which the rule of law is built. Under this social
contract, citizens follow legal rules in exchange for certain goods and
services from the government, and citizens conditionally cooperate with
each other, following the rules because others follow the rules as well.
Urban physical disorder, as evidenced by crumbling urban
infrastructure, signals both that the government is not fulfilling its
obligations under the social contract and that others are not following
the rules, contributing to a downward spiral that ultimately leads to a
culture unsupportive of the rule of law.
To test this theoretical account, this article analyzes empirical data from 124 countries related to the quality of the urban environment and the degree of commitment to the rule of law, as measured by perceived corruption. This analysis shows that the rule of law is both strongly correlated and causally dependent upon the quality of the urban environment. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that austerity is an effective means of controlling corruption, this article thus suggests that public investment in urban infrastructure and the creation of quality urban environments are essential components of efforts to cultivate and maintain the rule of law.
March 12, 2013
Rissman on Conservation Easements for Wildlife Conservation
Adena Rissman (Wisconsin - Ecology) has posted Rethinking Property Rights: Comparative Analysis of Conservation Easements for Wildlife Conservation (Environmental Conservation) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Conservation easements (or conservation covenants) are commonly conceptualized as acquisitions of sticks in a ‘bundle of rights’ and are increasingly implemented for wildlife conservation on private lands. This research asks: (1) What are the possibilities and limitations of the conservation easement approach to wildlife conservation in contrasting rural and periurban regions? and (2) How does analysis of conservation easements differ when examining property as a bundle of rights or alternative metaphors? These questions were addressed through document analysis, interviews and GIS mapping in two regions where The Nature Conservancy deployed conservation easements for wildlife habitat: rural Lassen Foothills and periurban Tenaja Corridor, USA. Splitting the bundle allowed for site and region-specific easements with differences in permitted housing densities, land management and hunting. Easements focused on restricted rights rather than affirmative duties. The challenges of habitat connectivity in the fragmented Tenaja Corridor revealed the limits of parcel-based acquisition. Analysts and conservation practitioners should rethink the bundle of rights concept of property, considering a bundle of duties, powers and owners within a broader web of social and ecological interests, to understand the role of conservation acquisitions in contrasting landscape contexts.
March 11, 2013
Does Privatizing Public Housing Lands Make Sense?
New York City is considering leasing public housing land to private developers so they can construct market rate apartment buildings. Most of the land in question is currently used as common space by the tenants of housing projects -- basketball courts, parking lots and outdoor plazas. The dollars generated by the sales would be used to repair decades-old public housing buildings. Not everyone is enthusiastic:
"So now you want to put in these huge buildings, block our view, take away the play areas that we have," [Aixa Torres] said. "And at the end of the day, segregate it."
Torres, the tenant association president, said the housing authority wants to demolish a baseball field and a parking lot in her complex to make room for the new apartments.
The baseball field is a spot where families like to picnic in the summer. And it's where the development's large Asian community likes to conduct daily tai chi exercises.
"I just think they're looking at the fact that this is waterfront property, and why should we have that view?" Torres said. "That's the way I feel."
Can Private Property Save the Rhino?
Kevin Redmon explains that government regulations designed to protect the rhino from poaching have failed:
Despite being banned in 1977, the rhino horn trade is flourishing. Twenty years ago, a kilo of horn went for $4,700. Today, it sells for $65,000, making it more valuable than either gold or cocaine. Poaching is on the rise, and by some accounts, the number of endangered (but not yet extinct) white rhino killed doubles each year. By 2035, African wildlands could be devoid of the animal.
Redmon then pushes for a controversial proposal to allow "horn farming" on private game reserves:
"Rhino horn is composed entirely of keratin and regrows when cut,” writes Biggs. “Sedating a rhino to shave its horn can be done for as little as $20.” A white rhino produces about a kilo of horn per year, and the current global demand could be met by “farming” as few as 5,000 animals on a private, well-guarded preserve. (Natural rhino death “would also provide hundreds of horns annually,” even as the herd continues to grow at a rate near 10 percent.) The millions of dollars generated by the legal enterprise could be used to fund further conservation efforts, such as wildland preservation, sustainable rural development, and field research.
(HT: Andrew Sullivan)
Analytical Alchemists and the Property Inspection Revolution
Slate looks at how Mike Flowers used "big data" to revolutionize the way New York conducts building inspections:
Among the first challenges the team tackled was “illegal conversions”—the practice of cutting up a dwelling into many smaller units so that it can house as many as 10 times the number of people it was designed for. They are major fire hazards, as well as cauldrons of crime, drugs, disease, and pest infestation. A tangle of extension cords may snake across the walls; hot plates sit perilously on top of bedspreads. People packed this tightly regularly die in blazes. In 2005 two firefighters died trying to rescue residents. New York City gets roughly 25,000 illegal-conversion complaints a year, but it has only 200 inspectors to handle them. There seemed to be no good way to distinguish cases that were simply nuisances from ones that were poised to burst into flames. To Flowers and his kids, though, this looked like a problem that could be solved with lots of data.
They started with a list of every property lot in the city—all 900,000 of them. Next they poured in datasets from 19 different agencies indicating, for example, if the building owner was delinquent in paying property taxes, if there had been foreclosure proceedings, and if anomalies in utilities usage or missed payments had led to any service cuts. They also fed in information about the type of building and when it was built, plus ambulance visits, crime rates, rodent complaints, and more. Then they compared all this information against five years of fire data ranked by severity and looked for correlations in order to generate a system that could predict which complaints should be investigated most urgently.
Burger & Frymer on Property Law and American Empire
Michael Burger (Roger Williams) and Paul Frymer (Princeton - Politics) have posted Property Law and American Empire (Hawaii Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Current scholarship by legal commentators and political scientists recognizes that the weapons of American empire have involved non-militaristic activities as much as militaristic ones. Such non-militaristic activities include the hegemonic influence of trade agreements, the imposition of legal and procedural norms, and the dissemination of ideological and cultural predispositions through corporations and diverse medias. In this paper, we examine an under-explored area on the “soft” belly of the American leviathan, focusing specifically on how property and intellectual property law have operated on physical and ideological frontiers to comprehend, participate in, and legitimate the expansion of American empire. We offer new accounts of two historical instances of empire-building: the acquisition and seizure of property from Native Americans in the early- and mid-19th century, and the expropriation of intellectual property rights to plant genetic resources from indigenous communities in the global South in the late 20th century. These two stories, taken together, offer unique insights into both the process and the substance of law’s operation on the frontier of empire. They illuminate how the authority of law has fused with private power and legal legitimacy to enable the nation to expand swiftly, energetically, and powerfully. These insights, in turn, lead toward the more general conclusion that the rhetoric of property has functioned to subjugate peoples and places, cultures and natures, to an imperial regime.