Friday, January 24, 2014
Michael Lewyn (Touro) has posted Zoning and Land Use Planning: Plans are Not Enough (Real Estate L.J.) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Some commentators describe comprehensive land use planning as a potential remedy for suburban sprawl. But in fact, states that require municipal comprehensive plans can be just as automobile-oriented as more permissive states. Why is this the case? Because like zoning codes, municipal comprehensive plans often favor low-density single-use development, wide streets and other factors that encourage automobile-dependent development.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
The Atlantic takes a look at Oxfam's report on global inequality and pulls out some pretty amazing facts and figures. For example, they highlight that the richest 85 people in the world own more wealth than the bottom half of the entire global population. The bottom half includes about 3 billion people. But, if things keep improving for the world's very poorest, is this really a problem? Maybe not:
But the chasm in investment wealth between rural Mozambique and Manhattan's financial district isn't necessarily the problem that the international development is or should be focused on. As Bill and Melinda Gates wrote in their annual letter, "the world is better than it has ever been." Cities like Mexico City, Nairobi, and Shanghai have been transformed in the last generation from dens of poverty to thriving international markets. In the letter, the Gates' make a big prediction:
By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. Almost all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer. Countries will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds, and the digital revolution. Their labor forces, buoyed by expanded education, will attract new investments.
Andrew Hayashi (UVa) has posted Property Taxes and Their Limits: Evidence from New York City (Stanford Law & Policy Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
I report evidence from New York City that property assessment caps on small residential properties represent a significant tax benefit that accrues to the most valuable properties and the wealthiest neighborhoods. Moreover, rather than benefiting the long-time homeowners on fixed incomes who are their putative targets, the largest benefits go to the properties that are most likely to have been recently sold and to be located in neighborhoods where cash incomes have increased the most.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
As a preview, the main takeaways from the paper that I plan to hit in these posts are the following:
- When properly measured, the gap between kidney need and supply is even larger than typically assumed and there is little reason to expect that trend to abate under current conditions
- The prospects are dim for increasing kidney donation rates under the current system: donation levels have been static overall since 2006, and donations from living kidney donors have actually declined from their 2003 peak. Moreover, most kidneys from suitable deceased donors are already procured -- even a perfect deceased organ consent and allocation system would not yield nearly enough kidneys to cover the amount needed per year to satisfy unmet demand
- Kidney transplantation is less expensive and results in better health outcomes than dialysis. Furthermore, living donor kidneys provide health advantages as compared to deceased donor kidneys.
- Many current innovations in transplantation are positive and should be encouraged, but will not increase kidney transplants in sufficient numbers to close the need-supply gap, at least not in the foreseeable future
Julie Lawton (DePaul) has posted Limited Equity Cooperatives: The Non-Economic Value of Homeownership (Washington U. J. of Law & Policy) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
In the Journal of Economic History, Katharine Shester has outlined the history of large-scale public housing since the 1940s. Her paper attempts to flesh out what, exactly, went wrong with this ambitious social program. The gist:
Shester, in the new JEH article, examines the entire public housing experiment by looking at the whole country from 1933 to 1973. She shows that by 1970, even taking into account local conditions prior to their construction, public housing projects depressed counties’ social and economic levels. Critically, however, that was not true before 1970. Data from 1950 and 1960 suggest that public housing seemed to have positive local effects. Something changed in the 1960s. The source of change was not, in Shester’s analysis, the new projects built in the 1960s, but seems to have been some cumulative aspect of public housing generally.
Decisions and developments from 1950 to 1970, Shester argues, accelerated the physical deterioration of public housing and increased the concentration of troubled families living there. Limits on government maintenance funds, like the limits on the original construction costs, hampered the housing managers. And because of imposed rent ceilings, local housing agencies could not get the funds sufficient to keep up repairs by charging tenants. Physical dilapidation followed.
At the same time, tightening the requirements that housing be provided only to the neediest families meant that stable working-class families, once part of the mix, were gone. The renters became increasingly and exclusively the poorest and most troubled families. Their growing concentration in dense (and tense) settings compounded the problems of order. By 1970, public housing projects had gained their nightmarish image. Pruitt–Igoe (and others) came down.
(HT: Andrew Sullivan)
Andrew Morriss (Alabama), Roy Brandys (Independent), & Michael Barron (Independent) have posted Involuntary Cotenants: Eminent Domain and Energy & Communications Infrastructure Growth on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
The spread of renewable energy mandates, new discoveries of unconventional oil and gas, and the need to harden and upgrade telecommunications infrastructure will lead to expansions in large infrastructure easements over the next decade. Many of these easements will be taken by eminent domain. In this paper we examine the problems posed by this involuntary creation of co-ownership of land. Existing eminent domain laws are insufficient to address the problems created because they allow the courts to vary only one term: price. Given difficulty in pricing many of the other terms to the easements (e.g. indemnification agreements for landowners, controlling impacts on hunting leases, or compliance efforts to control invasive species), reforms are necessary to allow courts to substitute for the bargaining process that eminent domain short circuits.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Researchers in the UK have documented surprisingly positive long-term effects of moving near an urban green space:
UK researchers found moving to a green space had a sustained positive effect, unlike pay rises or promotions, which only provided a short-term boost.
[P]eople do all sorts of things to make them happier: they strive for promotion at work, pay rises, they even get married. "But the trouble with all those things is that within six months to a year, they are back to their original baseline levels of well-being. So these things are not sustainable; they do not make us happy in the long-term. We found that within a group of lottery winners who had won more than £500,000 that the positive effect was definitely there but after six months to a year, they were back to the baseline."
Dr. White said his team wanted to see whether living in greener urban areas had a lasting positive effect on people's sense of well-being or whether the effect also disappeared after a period of time. [...] Explaining what the data revealed, he said: "What you see is that even after three years, mental health is still better which is unlike many of the other things that we think will make us happy."
The Urban Institute has posted Developing Choice Neighborhoods: An Early Look at Implementation in Five Sites - Interim Report on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Bryan Lowder looks at the burgeoning issue of whether cities have a moral responsibility to provide housing to elderly LGBT citizens:
But eldercare is also a matter of economic justice. The responsibility . . . is easy forget in the era of gay marriage, in which same-sex couples are increasingly able to consolidate their wealth and plan for their retirements and estates in ways that older generations just couldn’t. And regardless of whether gay elders found life partners or not, the hard truth is that . . . simply being queer and out in previous decades often had severe—and long-term—consequences on an individual’s finances.
But the most unconscionable aspect of this issue—and the one that affordable elder housing is ideally suited to prevent—is the pressure many LGBTQ seniors feel to go back into the closet after a lifetime of openness. This kind of retreat can seem necessary in traditional nursing homes and retirement communities as queer residents are forced to reintegrate with their less tolerant age-group. Imagine the pain of having to police your behavior or refrain from discussing a partner who has passed in your own home—it’s barbaric. Hopefully, other cities will take a cue from Philadelphia and work to create accommodations for our elders that afford them the peace and dignity they deserve.
Hanoch Dagan (Tel Aviv) has posted Property's Structural Pluralism: On Autonomy, the Rule of Law, and the Role of Blackstonian Ownership (Brigham-Kanner Prop. Rts. Conf. J.) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This Essay was prepared for the 2013 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference, William and Mary School of Law, as a tribute to Thomas Merrill. It is a brief presentation and defense of the structurally pluralistic conception of property I have developed in recent years, which differs both from the view of property as a singular right and from its conception as a bundle of rights.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
The annual meeting of the Association for Law, Property and Society has quickly become the preeminent property conference of the year. Proposals for this year's conference are due by January 31. The meeting will be held May 2-3 in Vancouver, British Columbia and confirmed participants include Joe Singer (Harvard) and Andre van der Walt (Stellenbosch, South Africa).
More information at the ALPS website.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
It's that time again, this month's Professors’ Corner Webinar. A FREE monthly webinar which features a panel of law professors, discussing recent cases or issues of interest to real estate or trust and estate practitioners and scholars. The event is sponsored by the Legal Education and Uniform Laws Group of the ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
12:00-1:00 pm Eastern
Topic: “Developments in Fair Housing: Mount Holly and Disparate Impact.”
The Mount Holly case, which had been pending at the Supreme Court, might have provided a definitive ruling as to the status and parameters of disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act. Now that the Mount Holly litigation is settled, the law with respect to disparate impact remains unsettled—particularly in light of HUD’s “affirmatively furthering” regulation and its intent to “affirmatively further” fair housing objectives.
Four panelists that will address the past, present, and future of disparate impact theory and HUD’s “affirmatively furthering” regulations:
Professor Robert Schwemm, University of Kentucky Professor Florence Roisman, University of Indiana-Indianapolis Professor Rigel Oliveri, University of Missouri Professor Stacy Seicshnaydre, Tulane University
Robert Hershey (Arizona), Jennifer McCormack (Arizona - Geography), and Gillian Newell (Independent) have posted Mapping Intergenerational Memories (Part I): Proving the Contemporary Truth of the Indigenous Past on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
How Indigenous communities choose to represent spaces or spatial information is integral to constructing and archiving cultural memory, articulating current environmental use, and dealing with evidentiary issues for title or land claim cases. For Indigenous communities around the world, the legacy of Western (often, colonial) cartography and spatial theory is disconnected from the many distinct narratives of space (and time) in Native communities.
Specifically in legal situations, this disconnect often reflects a power struggle between a Western, Cartesian division of space and time, and a relational, dynamic capitulation of space and time by an Indigenous group. Indigenous communities attempting to utilize Western legal forums for recognition of their rights face evidentiary hurdles caused by the ethnocentrism inherently built into legal systems. Although exceptions exist to hearsay rules, which allow oral history to be admitted as evidence and are common in multiple jurisdictions, fact finders are not comfortable placing conclusive weight on intergenerational memories. This discomfort is based on Western society’s ideas about what constitutes reality and reliability and results in Indigenous communities being held to strictly Western and often overly lineal principles. Indigenous communities need concrete methods to bring their intergenerational memories into Western courtrooms and have lawyers and judges receive and understand these fully and from an Indigenous standpoint.
Monday, January 13, 2014
For years, Lucas St. Clair and his mother, Roxanne Quimby, have been trying to donate 75,000 acres of pristine land the federal government in order to establish a new national park in Maine. Although the presence of a national park would surely attract money and tourists to an economically depressed areas, local residents are staunch in their opposition to the proposal. Why? Because locals still resent Quimby (the founder of Burt's Bees skin care company) for violating the property norms of rural Maine. Specifically, she closed off her land to hunters and snowmobilers. Here's the quote from the NY Times:
[F]erocious opposition has stalled their plan, partly out of antipathy toward Ms. Quimby, who, against Maine tradition, closed off her lands to hunters and snowmobilers, and partly because many in this fiercely independent region loathe the idea of giving Washington a toehold here.
Schwartz said it’s often clear how parents should prepare for the arrival of a new baby, the rules of how to treat the unoccupied room of an adult child are less concrete. “There's a sort of gray area between what you do with that room when you've gone from full-time parenting to whatever it is that comes next,” Schwartz said. “In some of the houses I went into, people didn't need space, so those rooms could stay intact. They'd close the door and pretty much not go into them. In other houses, there's more of a calculation: They need the space, but they want to preserve it to maintain the memories.”
Peter Byrne (Georgetown) has posted The Rebirth of the Neighborhood (Fordham Urban Law Journal) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This essay argues that new urban residents primarily seek a type of community properly called a neighborhood. “Neighborhood” refers to a legible, pedestrian-scale area that has an identity apart from the corporate and bureaucratic structures that dominate the larger society. Such a neighborhood fosters repeated, casual contacts with neighbors and merchants, such as while one pursues Saturday errands or takes children to activities. Dealing with independent local merchants and artisans face-to-face provides a sense of liberation from large power structures, where most such residents work. Having easy access to places of sociability like coffee shops and bars permits spontaneous “meet-ups,” contrasting with the discipline of professional life. Such a neighborhood conveys an indigenous identity created by the efforts of diverse people over time, rather than marketing an image deliberatively contrived to control the perceptions of customers. At its best, a neighborhood provides a refuge from the ennui of the workplace and the idiocy of consumer culture, substituting for churches (or synagogues), labor unions, and ethnic clubs that structured earlier urban social life.
What changes in land use law have contributed to or supported this transformation to neighborhood-based living? Several legal developments outside land use seem very important. Perhaps the most central legal development has been local government legal protections for gays, who often have been in the vanguard of the revival of urban neighborhoods. Crime reduction has significantly enhanced urban living since the 1970s, but which laws have contributed what to that reduction is a matter of intense debate. Civil rights laws and immigration reform have arguably nurtured a comfort with multi-ethnic urban neighborhoods that has turned discrimination and resentment to a comfort with and even celebration of diversity.
But changes in land use law, broadly understood, also helped provide the context for the revival of neighborhoods. This brief essay highlights those aspects of land use law that have supported this new urbanization since the founding of the Fordham Urban Law Journal. The claim is not that legal reforms caused the revival, but that they contributed to a broader social trend. These reforms have supported neighborhood revival primarily by securing the physical environments people want to live in. The three chief legal tools for neighborhoods have been zoning for urban form, historic district preservation, and environmental protection.
Friday, January 10, 2014
Techcrunch has a short article on how tech start-ups are starting to change the rental process:
The tools currently offered by Cozy include collecting rent online, managing payments from multiple roommates, and screening tenants. Landlordology, meanwhile, features a number of guides and advice-focused articles for landlords and property owners, “especially those with 50 rental units or less.” (Sample post: “10 Best Practices to Prevent Tenant Lawsuits.”) Its traffic has supposedly been increasing 20 to 30 percent every month since it launched in January 2012.
Daniel Cole (Indiana) has posted The Law and Economics Approach to Property (Property Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This short paper, written for a symposium issue of the Property Law Review on "Research Methods in Property Law," provides a concise introduction to the ways in which property rights (and duties) structure economic relations and, in turn, are influenced by economic considerations. Among the topics covered are: (a) property as a functional "institution" that not only facilitates exchange but also supports resource conservation (via the right to exclude); (b) Coasian comparative institutional analysis as a research method based on transaction costs; (c) property conflicts as joint- or social-cost problems; (d) the law and economics of property remedies; and (e) the under-explored variety and complexity of property regimes. The paper concludes with the obvious point (but one often ignored by legal scholars) that a thorough understanding of property law (including public and common property, as well as private property) requires attention to the vital economic functions it serves in virtually all societies.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
The New York Times details the plight of tenants who didn't have heat during the recent blast of arctic air:
The landlord . . . at 930 and 940 Prospect Place in Crown Heights, Seth Miller, was named one of the city’s 50 worst landlords by Bill de Blasio last year, when he was the city’s public advocate. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development lists 78 open violations in the two buildings, which have a common heating system. Since Mr. Miller’s company, Aegis Realty Management Company, bought the buildings out of foreclosure in 2012, tenants say it has harassed and tried to evict long-term tenants, challenging their leases and refusing to accept their rent payments, in order to bring in higher-paying residents. The tenants have sued Aegis and Mr. Miller for failure to provide heat and adequate hot water; their case is scheduled to be heard in housing court next Tuesday.