Saturday, February 4, 2017
Day 2 of the #PropertySchmooze has commenced, so let's get to blogging!
First up is Vanessa Casado Perez (Texas A&M) who is talking about something many of us deal with on a daily basis: parking! Parking is a huge issue in New Orleans, so I'm already excited about her paper Privatizing Public Parking: Unsharing Public Parking Spaces. As Vanessa tells us, in big cities, 106 days of your life are spent looking for parking and 30% of traffic is created by individuals looking for parking spaces. High demand plus scarce resources leads many cities to adopt a market solution. For example, there is the privatization of parking meters in Chicago. Or there is the app some cities use, Monkey Parking, which allows a person leaving a parking spot to sell the right to use the parking spot to another driver. Or there are variable pricing plans used in some cities, like San Francisco, where parking rates fluctate depending on demand. Vanessa is concerned about all of the market solutions because the public parking spots should, she argues, be held in public trust for the benefit of all, but these pricing mechanisms inherently weed a lot of people out. Further, Vanessa has concerns about private individuals profiting from using public parking spots. Thus, Vanessa's paper examines different frameworks we could use to solve the parking problem that abounds in many cities.
The second paper of the day is by Dave Fagundes (University of Houston) who is discussing Sharing, Property, and Happiness. Dave's paper comes from his interest in property skepticism (i.e. the idea that people are doing things with their property that we would not predict from the market) and his interest in current studies on people's happiness. By happiness, Dave is referring to one's subjective well being, measured by moment-to-moment affect in real time. With this measure of happiness, Dave then wants to know how can property make us happier, i.e. how can property give us greater moment-to-moment affects? Dave notes that it has been argued that there are three ways property makes us happier: property makes us happier when we give it to charity, when we use it as a site for community interaction, and sometimes, when we have less of it (see the minimalist movement). Dave then uses happiness to look at different areas of the law related to property and asks whether we are regulating things in the most optimal manner. For example, Dave uses happiness as a lens to look at the sharing economy, showing how the commercial exchanges that take place in the sharing economy might make us happier. Similarly he uses the happiness framework to examine our charitable donation laws, asking whether our tax deduction rules for charitable donations really optimizes happiness. Finally, Dave takes the minimalist movement, showing why everyone might be happier if they decreased their property levels, and then asks how can property law better facilitate the minimalist movement.
Third is Asmara Tekle (Thurgood Marshal). Asmara is presenting her paper Roll On, Cyclist: The Idaho Rule, Traffic Law, and the Quest to Incentivize Urban Cycling. The thought piece looks at how traffic laws can incentivize cycling as a mode of transportation in urban environments. The paper's thesis is that rules like the Idaho Rule, which legitimates the common cycling practice of treating stop signs as yield signs, have no negative impact on public safety while having a positive effect on encouraging people to cycle. Though the Idaho Rule has seemingly positive impacts, it has been adopted in only two states (Idaho, obviously, and Colorado), and many other states have considered adopting the Idaho Rule but have ultimately rejected it. Asmara's paper looks at the world of social norms for cycling and vehicles, as well as theories of vehicular integration between cyclists and cars and vehicular segregation, to explain why the Idaho Rule has not been adopted.
Last for the first panel is Kellen Zale (University of Houston). Kellen's talk is on her early work in progress, The Tenant's Right to Share, which seeks to develop a discussion on tenants' right to share the property they are renting and landlord consent provisions in residential leases. Traditional residential leases have relatively limited rights to share their propety without the written permission of the landlord, be it sharing through a sublease, sharing with a short-term visitor, or sharing through transferring the lease to another person. Landlords can deny permission unreasonably or arbitrarily. This rule for residential leases differs from the growing minority rule regarding commercial leases. In a growing minority of states, commercial landlords must have a reasonable reason to deny the commercial renter from sharing the property. Kellen's question is whether in the residential context we should reexamine our default rules regarding a landlord's ability to restrict a tenant's right to share.