Tuesday, July 7, 2020




On July 15th at 8:30 am EST, the Global Pandemic Network (GPN) in partnership with UN-Habitat will be holding a webinar – Covid-19 and Cities, Building Resilience on Human Rights and Environmental Protection. Presentations will be given on the following topics:  (1) Covid-19, Cities and the Environment; (2) Covid-19, Cities and Climate Change; (3) Covid-19, Cities and Sustainability; (4) Covid-19, Cities and Governance.

GPN collects global responses to COVID-19 and its legacy, prompts debate and enables knowledge-sharing among high-level academic institutions worldwide, spurring cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research collaborations. To learn more about the GPN, register for the webinar, and join a working group, visit www.globalpandemicnetwork.org.

In conjunction with GPN and UN-Habitat, the Journal of Comparative Urban Law and Policy (Georgia State University College of Law) and The International Journal of Human Rights (Taylor & Francis online) will be accepting submissions from working groups and others outside the network within three focus areas:  (1) COVID-19, Cities and the Environment; (2) COVID-19, Cities and Governance; and (3) COVID-19, Cities and Human Rights.  The submission deadline is December 15, 2020.

See more details on the Call for Papers below.

Download Joint Call for Papers - GPN & UN Habitat


July 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 28, 2020

CFP: Affordable Housing & Community Development in the Age of Pandemic


ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law

Call for Papers

Affordable Housing and Community Development in an Age of Pandemic

Expressions of interest due no later than June 12, 2020

Drafts due July 15, 2020


The Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (the Journal) invites articles and essays on how affordable housing and community development practitioners have adapted to challenges of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), as well as forward-looking responses and policies to the pandemic.  Topics covered could include changes and challenges in financing, developing, or managing affordable housing, as well as threats posed and opportunities emerging for the community development field.

For this issue, the Journal seeks wide participation and especially welcomes shorter essays (2,000–3,000 words) that reflect upon this unusual time.  Such essays may not necessarily require detailed citation but instead focus on memorializing efforts to respond to the coronavirus or framing an issue of ongoing importance.  In addition, the Journal will also continue to seek general essays (typically 2,500–5,000 words) or articles (typically 7,000–10,000 words) related to the Journal’s traditional subjects: affordable housing, fair housing and community/economic development.

The Journal is the nation’s only law journal dedicated to affordable housing and community development law.  The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners.

Interested authors are encouraged to submit a brief description of their proposals no later than June 12, 2020.  Submissions of final articles and essays are due by July 15, 2020. Please email abstracts and final drafts to the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Stephen R. Miller, at millers@uidaho.edu. The Journal also accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Please do not hesitate to contact the Editor with any questions.

May 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Alterman on enforcement and justifiable noncompliance in planning law

Prof. Rachelle Alterman (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology) has posted Between informal and illegal in the Global North:  Planning law, enforcement, and justifiable noncompliance, which is a chapter from an upcoming book called Comparative Approaches to Informal Housing Around the World.  The chapter is available here, and the abstract is below:

Much research has focused on the widespread phenomenon of “informal” construction in developing countries, where planning laws are dysfunctional. However, in recent years scholars have used this term with reference to Global North countries as well, where planning laws generally do function reasonably well. In this chapter, we take on a difficult task: to try and distinguish contexts or situations where indeed, planning law fails to the extent that noncompliance should be regarded as justifiable. To do so, we first demonstrate the difficulties and elusiveness of making a judgment of when noncompliance merits the term “informal”, thus calling for conceptual criteria. Once the challenges and dilemmas are exposed, the paper proposes six situations – or criteria– when noncompliance may be justifiable. Each is accompanied with real-life examples. The chapter concludes by pointing out the deep shortcomings in the interrelationships between regulatory planning on the one hand, and the grossly under-researched enforcement functions

May 13, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Brobst on drone use ordinances and civil rights in home rule jurisdictions

Interim Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Law Jennifer Brobst (Southern Illinois Univ. School of Law) has posted Enhanced Civil Rights in Home Rule Jurisdictions:  Newly Emerging UAS/Drone Use Ordinances,  122 W. Va. L. Rev.  ___ (forthcoming Spring 2020) on SSRN.  Here is the link, and here is the abstract:

As new, disruptive technologies emerge, the federal government tends to proceed cautiously and often should. State and local units of government, particularly in home rule jurisdictions, may have more potential to respond quickly to innovative technology and its potential threat to civil rights. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly known as drones, or Unmanned Aerial Systems (“UAS”), which include the drone’s operator equipment and software, demonstrate this legal challenge regarding intrusions on persons and property. This article reveals the breadth and flexibility of local ordinances in the United States that permit and restrict drone usage in a way that protects the civil rights of its local residents, and at a point in time before preemption challenges close off such innovation.



May 12, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Idaho Law named ACS Rising Chapter of the Year

At a small law school like mine, professors wear many hats.  Among mine:  faculty adviser to Idaho Law's American Constitution Society chapter.  For the past couple of years, we have had a great group of students that have really grown the organization and put on a ton of great programming.  They were recognized this week as the Rising Chapter of the Year!  This is a wonderful national recognition for a small law school, and recognizes the progressive future here in Idaho.  Full announcement here.




April 29, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

NFPA wildfire and insurance free webinars

For those interested in disaster management, these two free webinars organized by NFPA should be worth a listen.  They are aimed at residents, but they will cover a lot of basics around how wildfire and insurance markets work.  Links below:


April 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 20, 2020

Practical Uses for Narrative in the Land Use Process

I have just posted on SSRN a brief essay I recently wrote about narrative in the land use process.  The essay is available here.  The abstract is below:

The land use process is typically viewed as a fact-based determination of whether a project meets stated code requirements for issuance of a ministerial or discretionary permit. However, the issuance of discretionary permits, such as a conditional use permit, often turns on the narrative behind a project. Is the project providing much-needed density, or is it altering the unique character of a neighborhood? Are project opponents defenders of the city's character, or are they NIMBYs acting in discriminatory ways? Are developers heroes helping to resolve the affordability crisis, or rapacious capitalists without concern for the city's long-term vitality? While legal determinations of discretionary permits focus on fact-finding through the arbitrary and capricious and substantial evidence tests, sub-narratives embedded in those factual findings often are especially persuasive in decisionmaking. This article seeks to explore how all sides in land use battles can use methods of narrative otherwise used in storytelling arts, such as film and fiction writing, to better craft narrative in the land use process.

I am just beginning to explore the relationship between narrative and the land use process and would welcome folks' thoughts.  This essay was an initial foray into the subject that I intend to revisit in a longer article in the future.

April 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A light-hearted gentrification (and love story) romp: The Roxy Letters out today

I just want to put a plug in for my friend Mary Pauline Lowry, whose novel The Roxy Letters is out today from Simon & Schuster.  It is their top book of the spring season, and with good reason.  I knew Mary here in Boise as she wrote this book, and it has been a lot of fun to watch it evolve and, with some luck, become a blockbuster.  Mary would describe it as Bridget Jones Diary in Austin, or something about sex-starved life in Austin post-Great Recession.  But let's be real, Mary:  it's a land use novel about gentrification.  The plot revolves (in part) around a woman who is fed up with the loss of cultural institutions in her beloved, funky Austin that is increasingly beset with Lululemons and other chain stores.  Much comedy ensues as she decides to fight the power, and tries to find love along the way.  Of course, Mary (and probably her publisher) would be mortified to hear me describe The Roxy Letters as a land use novel, but that's my take, and I'm sticking to it.  Buy a copy today!



Here is the official, non-land use focused description: 

Meet Roxy. She’s a sometimes vegan, always broke artist with a heart the size of Texas and an ex living in her spare bedroom. Her life is messy, but with the help of a few good friends and by the grace of the goddess Venus she’ll discover that good sex, true love, and her life’s purpose are all closer than she realizes.

Bridget Jones penned a diary; Roxy writes letters. Specifically: she writes letters to her hapless, rent-avoidant ex-boyfriend—and current roommate—Everett. This charming and funny twenty-something is under-employed (and under-romanced), and she’s decidedly fed up with the indignities she endures as a deli maid at Whole Foods (the original), and the dismaying speed at which her beloved Austin is becoming corporatized. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.

As her letters to Everett become less about overdue rent and more about the state of her life, Roxy realizes she’s ready to be the heroine of her own story. She decides to team up with her two best friends to save Austin—and rescue Roxy’s love life—in whatever way they can. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and find romance—and even creative inspiration—in the process?





April 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Housing Policy Ideas from the Presidential Platforms: Homebuyer and Renter Assistance

This post continues a review of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates housing policies.  The full review I conducted is available on SSRN here.  Today, I excerpt a portion of the review that looks at ideas for homebuyer and renter assistance.  Of course, some of this has now changed dramatically in light of Covid-19 and the CARES Act; however, much remains highly relevant.  Here is the review:

A number of policies sought to assist both renters and those transitioning into becoming a homebuyer.

Renter’s credits.  Renter’s credits, some of which also implicated homebuyer assistance, were a popular proposal.  Hickenlooper supported a renter’s credit of up to $5,500 per year.  Harris’ Rent Relief Act would create a refundable tax credit for renters who pay more than 30% of their gross income for the taxable year on their rent including utilities.  Under Harris’ proposal, people who live in government-subsidized housing would be able to claim the value of one month’s rent as a tax credit to provide relief from rising costs.  Similarly, Booker’s proposed Housing, Opportunity, Mobility and Equity (HOME) Act would provide a renter’s credit to cap rental costs at 30% of income for working and middle-class Americans.  Castro supported a Renters Tax Credit that would assist individuals with incomes up to the area median income (AMI), and would allow the credit to be placed in tax-advantaged savings accounts for down payments.  Inslee supported a renter’s credit for households under 50% of AMI paying more than 30% of income on rent.  Steyer supported a quarterly tax credit to directly help low-income and middle-income families based on the local area Small Area Fair Markets Rents designations.  Those who qualify could choose to use this credit either for rental payment assistance or to save for a down payment on a home mortgage.  Patrick supported a rent credit with an associated special savings account.

Personal financing accounts.  There were also several proposals for personal accounts that could be used for long-term planning or in times of crisis, which several platforms deemed to include housing-related emergencies or down-payments.  For instance, Klobuchar proposed UP Accounts, which could be used for rent payments in emergencies.  O’Rourke proposed Kickstart Accounts, which he described as a matched savings program to save for a down payment or other asset building activity in which the government would match personal savings.  An example was as follows:  “A married couple with three kids wants to save for a down payment. They earn $45,000 and save $2,000 each year out of their tax refund to obtain the full $4,000 match. After three years of saving, they will have accumulated $18,000 in their Kickstart savings account. They would be able to purchase the median priced home ($250,000) with an FHA loan (3.5% down payment or $8,750) and cover the closing costs ($8,750).”  Booker proposed Baby Bonds.  In this proposal, every child at birth receives a $1,000 savings account, which could grow by up to $2,000 every year thereafter depending on the family's income.  At 18, low-income account-holders would have access to nearly $50,000 for things including a down payment on a home.

Credit history.  There were several platforms that sought to make it easier to get prove a credit history, which can be problematic for some homebuyers.  (Klobuchar, Castro).  One proposal would require issuers of FHA-backed mortgages to account for a greater variety of indicators when assessing creditworthiness, including crediting on-time payments for rent, cell phone payments, utilities, student loans, and other transactions prioritized by low-income individuals and families (Castro).

Other proposals.  A variety of policies were proposed to extend the availability of mortgages and problems of those with bad mortgages.  Proposals included: $2 billion to assist those with negative equity on their mortgages caused by the financial crisis (Warren) and reducing premiums for FHA-backed mortgages to boost access to affordable mortgages (Castro).   A revolving fund to assist public servants with down payment assistance (first responders, doctors, nurses, and teachers) was proposed (Steyer).

Increasing first-time home-buyer and renter education was a priority for several platforms (Klobuchar, Castro).  Proposals included supporting housing counseling, renter education, and financial literacy programs that are proven to help homebuyers, homeowners and renters achieve more favorable terms.

A refundable mortgage down payment tax credit was also proposed to help families get over the hurdle of a down payment into homeownership (Bennet). 

Expanding small mortgage access and utilizing better appraisal methods in rural areas and small towns were also discussed (Bennet).  An extra $100 million in annual funding to CDFIs for mortgage lending activities through the CDFI Fund was also proposed (O’Rourke).

Warren proposed a $4 billion Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund, which she claimed would build middle-class homes for buyers and renters where there's a supply shortage and housing costs rising faster than incomes.

April 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Free APA webcast on CARES Act implications for state and local govs & esp planners

The American Planning Association held a webcast on the implications of the CARES Act.  It is available here, and the slides are downloadable.

April 1, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Housing Policy Ideas from the Presidential Platforms: Financing Affordable Housing

This post continues a review of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates housing policies.  The full review I conducted is available on SSRN here.  Today, I excerpt a portion of the review that looks at ideas for financing affordable housing:  

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.  The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) continues to be a favored source for funding affordable housing.  Many candidates supported LIHTC, with all seeking to increase its funding levels, though some also seeking additional conditions for that new funding.  Castro sought to expand LIHTC by $4 billion, Steyer wanted to increase the program by 50% over the next 5 years, Bennet also wanted to increase allocations by 50%, and Hickenlooper would have doubled LIHTC funding.  In addition, using LIHTC to pilot local revolving loan funds was proposed (Castro), as was using incentives to extend the period before apartments converted to market-rate to 50 years and prioritizing new construction in high-opportunity areas (Castro).  A 4% credit for renovation projects was proposed (Steyer), as was prioritizing LIHTC projects that incorporate transit-oriented development, deep energy efficiency, and densification (Steyer).  Encouraging Live/Work projects that integrate work and affordable housing in projects was also proposed (Steyer).  Adjusting the minimum credit rate, and increasing incentives to target vulnerable communities and prevent NIMBYism was also proposed (Bennet).  Requiring all new developments receiving the more generous 9% credit be permanently affordable was also proposed (O’Rourke).

Housing Trust Fund.  The Housing Trust Fund was also a favored source of funding for affordable housing.  Proposals for increasing the HTF were generally in the same range, including: $40 billion a year (Klobuchar); $47 billion annually in the Housing Trust Fund (along with the Capital Magnet Fund), prioritizing projects with wrap-around services and climate goals (Steyer); $45 billion annually in the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund (Castro); $42 billion in additional funding for the Housing Trust Fund and CDFI (Inslee); $400 billion over ten years (O’Rourke); $445 billion (over an unspecified time) (Warren); $400 billion over next 10 years (Bennet); and $1.48 trillion over 10 years (with an additional $400 billion to build mixed-income social housing units) (Sanders).

There was also a proposal to reserve up to 10% of the National Housing Trust Fund towards down-payment assistance for prospective low-income first-time home buyers (Castro).

Capital Magnet Fund.  Similarly, the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) was a preferred mechanism for funding.  Increased funding proposals just to the CMF included $25 billion (Warren) and $60 billion per year (O’Rourke).  Proposals that included both the CMF and the HTF included $30 billion over next 10 years (Bennet); $45 billion per year (Castro); and $47 billion annually (Steyer).

Other proposals.  Other funding proposals included increasing the New Markets Tax Credits funding to $5 billion a year (Biden).  There was a proposal to raise the bond volume cap (Klobuchar), and there was a proposal to incentivize multi-family developments that help increase density in areas of opportunity by supporting new financing tools through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Private Activity Bonds (Bennet).

March 27, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Housing Policy Ideas from the Presidential Platforms: Housing for Special Populations

This post continues a review of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates housing policies.  The full review I conducted is available on SSRN here.  Today, I excerpt a portion of the review that looks at housing policies geared at special populations, which are summarized below:  

Disabled housing.  In addition to the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, platforms made note of several housing issues related to disabilities.  This included the need to enforce the Olmstead Decision (Sanders).  Enforcement of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was also mentioned (Sanders).  Others pledged to use the three major affordable housing funding sources—LIHTC, the National Housing Trust Fund, and the Capital Magnet Fund—to focus on constructing affordable housing for the disabled (Castro).  In addition, it was suggested that the disabled should always have priority for occupying affordable units designated for those with disabilities (Castro).

Senior housing.  Senior affordable housing was addressed in several ways.  This included a proposal to regulate reverse mortgages (Klobuchar) and created an up-to-$6,000 tax credit for retrofitting an existing home for senior living (Klobuchar).  Retrofitting existing affordable rental housing for seniors was also mentioned as a priority (Klobuchar).

Student housing.  Several candidates proposed increasing Pell Grants, which can be used for student housing (Klobuchar, Castro).  One proposal would raise the Pell Grant maximum to $12,000 per year and expanding eligibility to families making up to $100,000 per year (Klobuchar).  Microgrant programs that would help students cover rent or other necessary expenses were also proposed (Klobuchar), as was increasing student accessibility to existing affordable housing units and building new affordable units near campuses (Klobuchar).  In addition, McKinney-Vento funds, which typically focus on homelessness, were proposed for expansion to support housing-insecure students (Castro).

Domestic violence.  Eviction protection for victims of domestic violence was proposed (Sanders), as was stepped up enforcement of Violence Against Women’s Act and its 2016 amendments (Steyer, Castro).

Other proposals.  Increased funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking Prevention Act to ensure transitional living programs, particularly for youth who are aging out of the foster system, was proposed (O’Rourke).  Victims of trafficking (Steyer) and creative sector workers (Hickenlooper) were also noted as populations worthy of further housing policy consideration.

March 24, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Idaho Law seeks 3 visiting assistant professors for 2020-21

We are seeking three visiting assistant professors for the 2020-21 academic year here at Idaho Law.  The details are below:

Univ. of Idaho (Moscow location) Seeks Tax Visitor

The University of Idaho College of Law seeks entry-level or experienced faculty members interested in serving as a full-time, temporary faculty member for the 2020-2021 academic year at its Moscow location. We are specifically hiring for a professor to teach various Tax law courses and, possibly, courses on Estate Planning and/or Wills. For more information and to apply, go here: https://uidaho.peopleadmin.com/postings/28443 Questions can be directed to Associate Dean David Pimentel at dpimentel@uidaho.edu.

Univ. of Idaho (Boise location) Seeks Visitor to Direct Entrepreneurship Law Clinic

The University of Idaho College of Law seeks entry-level or experienced faculty members interested in serving as a full-time, temporary faculty member for the 2020-2021 academic year to direct the College’s Entrepreneurship Law Clinic at its Boise location. The Entrepreneurship Law Clinic is devoted to outreach to the startup and small business community in Idaho. For more information and to apply, go here: https://uidaho.peopleadmin.com/postings/28557 Questions can be directed to Associate Dean Wendy Couture at wgcouture@uidaho.edu.

Univ. of Idaho (Boise location) Seeks Visitor to Teach IP & Contracts

The University of Idaho College of Law seeks entry-level or experienced faculty members interested in serving as a full-time, temporary faculty member for the 2020-2021 academic year to teach first-year Contracts and several Intellectual Property Law courses (potentially including Introduction to Intellectual Property, Copyrights, Trademarks & Trade Dress, Patents, Internet Law, and/or Antitrust). For more information and to apply, go here: https://uidaho.peopleadmin.com/postings/28556 Questions can be directed to Associate Dean Wendy Couture at wgcouture@uidaho.edu.

March 14, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Housing Policy Ideas from the Presidential Platforms: Fair Housing

This post is part of an ongoing review of 2020 presidential candidate platforms on housing (full review available here).  Today's post focuses on fair housing proposals.  Here is an excerpt:

Broadening protections under the Fair Housing Act.  Many of the presidential candidates seek to expand the Fair Housing Act to under- or un-protected classes.  At present, the Fair Housing Act’s provisions prevent discrimination in various aspects of the real estate market on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, and national origin.

New classes proposed for protection under the Fair Housing Act by candidates include “veteran status” (Bloomberg, Klobuchar, O’Rourke) and “military status” (O’Rourke). 

A variety of other proposals focus on extending protection to sex and gender classes, which was expressed by various candidates as “sexual orientation” (Bloomberg, Klobuchar, O’Rourke), “LGBTQ+” (Sanders, Castro), “sex and gender identity,” “sexual identity” and “gender identity” (Steyer, Harris, O’Rourke).  Several platforms expressly voiced support for the Equality Act, which is proposed legislation intended to address discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals in a variety of contexts, including housing.  

Other classes proposed for addition to the Fair Housing Act include “marital status” (Warren, Harris) and those with a “criminal record” (O’Rourke).

Source-of-income protection.  Protecting source-of-income under the Fair Housing Act was also popular (Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, Castro, Harris, O’Rourke).

Disparate Impact Rule.  In the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., the court held that disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.[2]  In October, 2019, HUD issued a proposed rule that offered an interpretation of the Fair Housing Act disparate impact standard that many commenters felt was restrictive and would limit the viability of such claims.  Several candidates expressly stated that they would seek to address this rule and make disparate impact claims easier to bring under the Inclusive Communities ruling (Bloomberg, O’Rourke).

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule.  At the end of the Obama administration, HUD promulgated a rule that sought to give teeth to the Fair Housing Act’s statutory directive that “all executive departments and agencies” should operate their programs in “a manner affirmatively to further” fair housing.  The rule requires communities to submit plans outlining their efforts to fight segregation.  In 2018, the Trump Administration extended a key reporting deadline under the AFFH Rule, and in January, 2020, the Trump Administration issued a proposed rule that would roll-back many of the AFFH Rule’s major provisions.  A number of candidates propose to reinstate the rule as it was originally envisioned by the Obama Administration.  (Bloomberg, Sanders, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Castro, Patrick).

Other proposals.  There was a proposal to ban landlords and rental agencies from discriminating against applicants based upon a of bankruptcy, if the individual could demonstrate current cash flow and stability requirements for occupancy (Steyer).

Another proposal would protect renters by preventing the blacklisting of people who have been to court over eviction, though specific mechanism for this protection were not mentioned (Klobuchar). 

Several candidates addressed discrimination on the basis of prior arrests or convictions (Klobuchar, Steyer, Castro).  Klobuchar would prohibit landlords from asking about prior criminal convictions on lease applications, a proposal that she calls “ban the box” (Klobuchar, Steyer, Castro).  Klobuchar proposes that background checks be permitted only after making a conditional offer of housing. 

Another proposal would ensure that new technology products, such as financing and placement algorithms, meet established civil rights standards (Steyer).

Several candidates proposed new agencies to address issues related to fair housing.  Sanders called for a new National Fair Housing Agency, which he envisioned operating like a Consumer Finance Protection Bureau for housing matters, while Bloomberg called for a new Housing Fairness Commission.

Enhancing enforcement of existing housing laws was also a priority for some candidates.  Harris proposed to utilize HUD, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to enhance Fair Housing Act enforcement in conducting audits and fair housing tests to prevent discrimination at the point of sale.  Several candidates wanted to give more funds to the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for enforcement.

For those who want to read the entire review of the platforms, it is available here.  The review looks at candidates' takes on fair housing; housing development funding; home buyer and renter assistance; landlord-tenant; zoning reform; addressing the legacy of redlining; housing vouchers; homelessness; fair lending; rural communities housing policies; tribal communities housing policies; climate resilience and housing policy; and existing public housing policy.

March 4, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Deadline: March 6: ABA Student Writing competition on affordable housing


Forum on Affordable Housing‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 
Learn More

March 3, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Housing Policy Ideas from the Presidential Platforms: Common Themes

Just in time for Super Tuesday voting, I just completed a review of housing policies in all of the 2020 presidential candidate platforms.  Over the next few weeks, I am going to highlight these policies focusing on a different housing issue in each post.  Today's excerpt is a section of the article that focuses on common themes in the presidential platforms.  Here is the excerpt:

There were a number of common themes among the platforms. 

In fair housing, many of the platforms encouraged broadening the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, especially with regard to veteran status and sexual and gender identities.  There was also significant agreement in providing source-of-income protection, reinstituting the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule and broadening the availability of disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. 

In development funding, there was broad support for increasing funding through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the Housing Trust Fund, and the Capital Magnet Fund.

There were a number of proposals for a renters’ credit, with many of the proposals focusing on limiting low- and middle-income households’ exposure to rent to less than 30% of household income. 

There was overwhelming support for access to counsel in eviction cases.

There was significant interest in incentivizing local governments to reform exclusionary zoning policies.  A variety of proposals were made including linking transportation funding, Community Development Block Grant funding, and state and local tax deductions to eliminating exclusionary zoning.  Several policies were also made to address the legacy of redlining that would have significant impacts. 

There was significant support for Housing Choice Vouchers, with many candidates proposing to fully fund the program.  There was also general support for homelessness funding through the McKinney-Vento homelessness assistance grants and also through a variety of programs to assist homeless veterans.

Housing support in rural and tribal communities received consistent support but without proposals for significant policy innovation.  Integrating climate change and resilience to disaster into housing policy received only modest attention, though several candidates addressed it in detail.  Similarly, there was consistent support for increasing funds for capital repairs in existing public housing.

That's all for today.

For those who want to read the entire review of the platforms, it is available here.  The review looks at candidates' takes on fair housing; housing development funding; home buyer and renter assistance; landlord-tenant; zoning reform; addressing the legacy of redlining; housing vouchers; homelessness; fair lending; rural communities housing policies; tribal communities housing policies; climate resilience and housing policy; and existing public housing policy.

March 3, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 31, 2020

Dangerous Ideas for Land Use Laboratories #2: Train Infill Developers...for Free

Land use law almost always focuses on regulations and incentives related to growth.  Perhaps because of my past as an attorney representing developers in California, I have always thought that land use law did not spend enough time thinking about how we build a strong real estate community that is committed to the common good.  One take-away from those years of practice was that the developer clients I respected the most were those willing to do the brain damage of an infill project.  The financing on infill projects is tough, especially if there is anything unusual about the project like trying to do affordable units, preserve historic structures, or do green building.  Moreover, infill developers are those most likely to suffer from regulatory delay because of existing neighborhood NIMBYism, environmental problems from previous users, and heightened costs of demolition and removal of things like underground storage tanks.  It is much, much easier to be a greenfield developer.  

That said, urban cities increasingly are engaging land use policies that seek to encourage infill like never before.  California wants to build 3.5 million new houses in five years, according to Governor Newsom.  And retrofitting of existing single-family neighborhoods has support from both liberals and conservative factions in the land use battle...when does that happen?!

There is just one problem:  who is going to build those infill homes?  Even if every existing single-family neighborhood were re-zoned for fourplexes, there would still be a problem of finding competent developers who were committed to retaining fine-scale development at a higher urban density.  The reality is that we have never trained that person in earnest, except at elite real estate programs at institutions like MIT, Harvard, or Berkeley.  If we want to make that happen en masse, we need to commodify that knowledge and make it very, very accessible.  This flies in the face of how the real estate industry usually works, though, which is built on relationships that are often acquired over time and through families or, as noted above, elite programs in real estate development or design.

My idea is simple:  cities offer a year-long--free--real estate boot camp.  I saw a much smaller version of this when I was in practice, as San Francisco rolled out its first green building ordinance.  There were a lot of questions and concerns about the ordinance that were forestalled by excellent sessions run by the building and planning departments that did simple things like help retrain plumbers for green fixtures.  Why can't we do this with development?

What would it take?  What should be in the class?  Several thoughts I have include the following:  how to create a pro forma for an infill project that will get funded; invite banks to meet prospective infill developers; help train developers on programs like Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other credit schemes; introduce developers to architects that understand infill and committed to reasonably priced-plans that can be easily replicated rather than bespoke infill mansions; permitting assistance to understand how permits like PUDs might permit better long-term development of a property that is not evident from base zoning; and what else?

Above all, I think that cities interested in building housing need to think about how they build a committed developer community.  That means a city investment in building that community.  Might those developers go on to make some nice profits?  Sure.  Good for them.  But we must acknowledge that real estate is always an inherently risky business because of the amount of capital involved, and that upfront capital investment also serves as a barrier to entry to many would-be developers that do not have that access through elite connections.  Cities need to help develop this diverse community of developers that are committed to infill if they are serious about seeing new infill built.  Changing the code alone won't affect the process and social barriers that keep new infill from being built.

Prior posts in this series:

Ban Single-family Residential Covenants


January 31, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Cal LAO: Preparing for Rising Seas: How the State Can Help Support Local Coastal Adaptation Efforts

For those interested in the interplay between sea-level rise and housing, the California Legislative Analyst's Office has a great new report available here.

January 30, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 27, 2020

Dangerous Ideas for Land Use Laboratories #1: Preempt the Single-Family Residence Restrictive Covenant

Preamble:  Where I've Been the Last Couple of Years

For the last several years, a lot of my time has been consumed by being an associate dean.  Rather than thinking big ideas about land use law, I've been worrying about course schedules and whatever issue had unexpectedly blown up when I came into the office that day.  With my stint in administration now past, I am delighted to get back to thinking about land use issues.  I find that I have a lot of ideas stacked up, many of which I haven't had time to fully research, and life being what it is, I may never have the chance to do so.  I also realize that the world of land use is changing dramatically, and there are some ideas I want to get out there before the moment passes.  I also realize that it seems the whole academic world has moved to Twitter, but I find that medium completely unappealing (even though I will link these posts to my Twitter account), and so I am returning to this blog for this series.  I don't know if anyone still reads it, but I'm hoping this series will give me a chance to start contributing again in a meaningful way.

The Dangerous Ideas series

For awhile, I've been thinking about the fact that the 39,000 local governments in the United States with land use authority utilize the same basic approach, almost all derived from enabling statutes themselves derived from the common origin of the SZEA.  It's remarkable, nonetheless, especially when you think of the idea that states--just 50 in number--are supposedly the laboratories of democracy.  My idea was, well, if you wanted to shake up land use law in the twenty-first century to address the major issues of the time...what would that look like?  There are certainly lots of discussions right now that are new and novel, but it interesting to me how quickly the novelty of the new idea becomes fetishized, and the invention stops as sides are taken and ideas politicized.  Bucking the norm of the SZEA-based approach is legally and politically dangerous.  But some places are going to want to try, and for those who are willing to think about things in a new way, what should they think about?  If folks are tired of the SZEA / Euclidean model, is their only option form-based codes?  New urbanism?  What else is there?  What can folks do now without hundreds of thousands of dollars of consultant fees? 

I welcome your thoughts and ideas.  In this series, I will share a few of mine.  I do not claim that the ideas in this series are not being done anywhere; surely, with 39,000 local governments in the US, almost everything I plan to discuss has been tried...somewhere.  My goal, though, is to try to broaden the conversation and, perhaps, convince some local governments out there to experiment a little, try something dangerous, and maybe build a better city while they're at it.  If folks know of cities or states working on these issues, I welcome thoughts.  And so, without further ado, here we go...

Dangerous Idea 1:  Preempt Restrictive Covenants for Single-Family Residences

There is plenty of discussion out there right now about places like Minneapolis and Oregon that have made strides to create more equitable and affordable neighborhoods by permitting duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes in existing single-family zoning districts.  I very much support this.

That said, this regulation primarily affects existing housing stock and only changes public regulation of that existing housing stock.  In many parts of the country, a significant percentage of housing stock is covered by private CC&Rs and an even higher percentage of new housing stock is covered by private CC&Rs.  One of the most common CC&Rs in residential subdivisions restricts those subdivisions to single-family residences.  If we are serious about affordable housing, those areas where CC&Rs are prevalent will prevent any meaningful retrofitting of single-family zones and mean our new housing will all still be single-family.  

The extent of this was made evident by this recent article:  Wyatt Clarke & Matthew Freedman, The rise and effects of homeowners associations, 112 Journal of Urban Economics 1 (2019).  The article estimates that 60% of all new housing construction is in an HOA, while 80% of new greenfield housing construction is in an HOA.  The article found significant class segregation between HOA ($83,401) and non-HOA ($59,656) household incomes.  Staggeringly, they found that 86% of new homes in the Mountain West, where I live, are covered by HOAs with all of the country above 40% of new housing stock in HOAs.  In the Mountain West, 40% of all housing is in an HOA, according to the article, and while that is the highest of any region, other regions have similar patterns.

My point is this:  if we are serious about addressing disparities in neighborhoods--and I think sociological studies tell us we should be--then we can't just address the public system of segregating neighborhoods through single-family zoning.  We must also contemplate pre-empting enforcement of single-family residence covenants in HOA CC&Rs through either state statute or local ordinance.

Dangerous idea?  You bet.  But how serious are we?  If we are really trying to build residential neighborhoods that are equitable, we can't congratulate ourselves for eliminating public barriers to more integrated neighborhoods through zoning while permitting the same thing by private means of the restrictive covenant.

Finally, I recognize some will say that it is the urban neighborhoods that are most important to address now because they are the most likely to be retrofit with density that would permit transit-rich options.  I disagree.  If developers know that they cannot enforce single-family residence CC&Rs, I believe they are more likely to engage in dense greenfield development that could yield meaningful density for future transportation nodes.  Moreover, such greenfield density is cheaper than infill density, which requires purchase of the existing structure and a demolition of the existing structure, which is time intensive and expensive.


January 27, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, January 10, 2020

CFP reminder: Innovations in Affordable Housing: ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law

A reminder of this call for papers on affordable housing topics.  Feel free to contact me (millers@uidaho.edu) if you have questions.


ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law

Call for Papers

Innovation and Change in Affordable Housing and Community Development

Drafts due  in February, 2020 (final drafts due March 1, 2010)


The Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (the Journal) invites articles and essays on the theme of innovation and change in affordable housing and community development law.  How are established forms of financing affordable housing changing?  Are project types changing and, if so, how?  How are community organizing strategies changing in light of technological and social shifts?  What should we make of corporate efforts to address affordable housing when governmental and market efforts do not work?  What other innovations and changes are occurring that the affordable housing and community development community must confront and address?

The Journal welcomes essays (typically 2,500–6,200 words) or articles (typically 7,000-10,000 words). In addition, the Journal welcomes articles and essays on any of the Journal’s traditional subjects: affordable housing, fair housing and community/economic development. Topics could include important developments in the field; federal, state, local and/or private funding sources; statutes, policies or regulations; and empirical studies.

The Journal is the nation’s only law journal dedicated to affordable housing and community development law.  The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners.

Interested authors are encouraged to send an abstract describing their proposals. Submissions of final articles and essays are due by February 1, 2020. Please email abstracts and final drafts to the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Stephen R. Miller, at millers@uidaho.edu. The Journal also accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Please do not hesitate to contact the Editor with any questions.

January 10, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)