Thursday, January 20, 2022

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 35: Using Supportive Housing to Address Homelessness

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 35 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Authors: Michael Ohora and Jaclyn McBain Cohen [*]

Using Supportive Housing to Address Homelessness

Supportive housing is a form of permanent affordable housing that provides supportive services, such as “mental health, physical health, language, and cultural needs, education, employment, addiction and recovery, tenant rights and others" to individuals who are homeless, vulnerable to becoming homeless, or disabled. Supportive housing programs take the “housing first” approach, which involves addressing homelessness by placing individuals in a permanent residence before addressing other issues, such as drug addiction, physical and mental health issues, unemployment, and insufficient development of life skills. By prioritizing housing, individuals are provided a secure environment to work on their vulnerabilities rather than doing so while on the street or in a shelter. Permanent supportive housing programs achieve an occupancy retention rate as high as 98%. In contrast to the “housing first” approach, the “services first” approach involves attempting to meet the needs of homeless individuals while they are unprotected by permanent shelter. States, such as Utah, that have shifted from a “services first” approach to a “housing first” approach have seen substantial decreases in their homeless populations as individuals are given housing to provide stability from which they can begin to work on sobriety, mental health problems, job seeking, etc.

There are two main models of supportive housing: the scatter-site model and the single-site model. The scatter-site model involves an organization purchasing housing units across a variety of buildings and properties, which can include apartments, condominiums, or houses. This model allows supportive housing units to be integrated within the general community, and it allows for flexibility in the creation of supportive housing units since any number of units in one building can be purchased to serve as supportive housing. In a clustered scatter-site model, units can be purchased to form a cluster of supportive housing units within a larger property. The clustered scatter-site housing scheme forms an “economy of scale” by reducing the costs incurred by service providers to cover travel, staffing, and maintenance fees. In contrast to the scatter-site model, the single-site model involves a not-for-profit developer purchasing an entire building and using all of the units to provide supportive housing. In this model, on-site services are provided and tailored to the needs of the building’s occupants.  

Local governments can aid in the provision of supportive housing in a variety of ways. For example, Los Angeles initiated the Proposition HHH Supportive Housing Loan Program for the purpose of providing loans to developers who build supportive housing developments. This proposition was passed by voters in 2016, thereby authorizing a $1.2B bond to offer loans. The goal of the project is to build 8,000 supportive housing units. Developers work with the City to identify providers of the particular supportive services needed by the types of vulnerable tenants who will occupy the new units. The City’s requirements specify that the supported residents be “extremely low income” (up to 30% of the area median) or “very low income” (up to 50% of the median) and to be homeless or chronically homeless.

 

As another example, New York City sponsors the 15/15 Initiative through the Office of Supportive and Affordable Housing and Services. The 15/15 Initiative involves developing 15,000 new supportive housing units by 2030. A task force delivered specific recommendations regarding data & evaluation, referrals, service models, and streamlining development. Recommendations include: using a vulnerability index to target housing to certain populations; minimizing time spent waiting in shelters; implementing a holistic approach to family services; and improving community engagement for new projects.

Services provided in the 15/15 program vary based on the occupants’ needs. For example, CAMBA is a provider of housing and services that include medical treatment for chronic illness, case management, nutritional services (such as food distribution), parenting support, family economic services, and legal services. The comprehensive nature of services that go beyond medical services help individuals in supportive housing gain and maintain both stability within their lives and the ability to be productive members of their communities.

Funding for the 15/15 program comes from the City’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development. The Supportive Housing Loan Program requires that 60% of the units be set aside for homeless or disabled individuals and the remaining 40% be rented to tenants with income falling below 60% of the area’s median income. The loans are for 30 years and a maximum of $125,000 per unit. At the state level, the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative provides funding for supportive housing. Here, applicants request funding with a maximum of $25,000 per individual, which can be used to provide rental subsidies, supportive services, building security, transportation, and education. The Supportive Housing Loan Program and the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative are just two of the many funding opportunities available through public and private sources that providers can take advantage of for the development and operation of their supportive housing programs.

For additional resources, the Gaining Ground Information Database is a free resource featuring best practice models used by governments to control the use of land in the public interest. Please direct your search toward the Healthy Communities topic.

[*] Michael Ohora, this blog’s primary author, is a first-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and a Land Use Law Center volunteer.

Jaclyn McBain Cohen is a third-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Land Use Scholar in the Land Use Law Center.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health
  15. Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses
  16. Segregation by Law and the Racial Inequity Pandemic
  17. Combating Food Swamps to Improve Equity and Public Health
  18. The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings
  19. Remediating Distressed Properties to Improve Public Health
  20. Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health
  21. ADU Introduction
  22. NIMBY Restrictions to Poison the Prospects of Accessory Dwelling Units to Address Housing Insecurity
  23. Zoning to Fill the Missing Middle Housing Gap
  24. Old Tools to Fight Housing Insecurity: Adaptive Reuse and Infill Development
  25. Racial Impact Analyses
  26. A New Era of Equity-Based Comprehensive Planning…Finally
  27. Equity-Based Comprehensive Plans: Land Use Policies to Correct Past Disparities
  28. Reversing the Legacy of Redlining: Reducing Exposure to Toxins and Pollutants Through Land Use Law Reform
  29. Addressing the Four Pandemics – A Case Study
  30. Health Impact Assessments: A New Tool for Analyzing Land Use Plans, Zone Changes, and Development Projects
  31. Putting the “e” in TOD
  32. The Four Pandemics Explained and Addressed by Land Use Law and Policy
  33. Gentrification: Remedies and Consequences
  34. What is Climate Gentrification and Why is it Different?

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

January 20, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Free ABA Webinar: Wed Jan 19: A Practitioner’s Guide to Writing A Journal Article

Tomorrow, Wednesday January 19 at 12:30 Central, I am moderating an ABA panel for practitioners about writing journal articles with two wonderful panelists.  The event is free.  I hope you will join us, or perhaps recommend the event to a friend considering an article.  Here is the link to register, and here is the blurb:

As a practicing lawyer, you are constantly building on your knowledge and expertise in ways that would be of great interest to other lawyers. You would love to write essays and articles coming out of your experience, but what’s the best way to get started? Two experienced practitioners who have published in ABA publications will discuss how, why, what, and – yes – when to write. Brian Connolly, a partner at a Denver law firm, and Lesley Albritton, a legal aid lawyer, will discuss writing with Stephen R. Miller, Senior Editor of the ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law.

LINK TO BIOS: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/events/affordable_housing/speaker-bios121421.pdf

January 18, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 33: Gentrification: Remedies and Consequences

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 33 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Gabriella Mickel [*]

Gentrification: Remedies and Consequences

Gentrification is defined as “the process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, typically displacing current inhabitants in the process.” The inequities caused by gentrification in many communities are manifest. For example, the disinvestment in lower-income neighborhoods caused by redlining, racial covenants, and zoning provisions preventing property improvement resulted in dilapidated buildings, lowered real estate prices fueling development of manufacturing and industrial uses, and lowered the cost of investment in polluting infrastructure, such as highways and public works facilities. The legacy of these effects is the exposure of the residents of such neighborhoods to toxins and pollution not found in moderate- or higher-income residential neighborhoods. In fact, Black Americans are 75% more likely to live in communities where they are exposed to soil, air, and water pollution and experience a higher risk of cancer, asthma, and other life-threatening illnesses.

This is clearly an equity issue that many municipalities are interested in rectifying, but they must be careful to assess and avoid unintended consequences. One solution, for example, has been to build green infrastructure, such as parks, in these neighborhoods. It may seem as though the neighborhood would benefit from this supposed step away from the historic inequity; however, once the green infrastructure is built, gentrification and displacement can occur. Those trees and parks can cause property values to rise, gentrifiers to move in, and low-income residents to be displaced. Displaced residents are more likely to experience negative mental health effects, food deserts, less walkable streets, less access to transportation, and more exposure to pollutants.

The same cycle happens with other “solutions” to historic inequities. Reducing crime leads to higher property values. Giving school vouchers to kids in underfunded schools can encourage moderate-income parents to become gentrifiers and move into low-income neighborhoods. Increasing transit options and transit-oriented development can drive up rents and property values. Even addressing food deserts and swamps by attracting grocers, encouraging farmers’ markets, and incentivizing community gardens can result not only in food mirages, but also in gentrification.

The question thus becomes: how do we stop this cycle of inequity? Part of the answer could be leveraging the resources of gentrifiers and preventing displacement of low-income residents through land-use solutions. To prevent displacement, municipalities are building more affordable housing, preserving current affordable housing stock, and keeping residents in and returning them to their communities.

The Neighborhood Jobs Trust in Boston, Massachusetts is funded by fees paid by commercial developers with projects greater than 100,000 square feet. Boston’s zoning law requires these developers to obtain a zoning variance. To get the variance, the developers must pay a linkage fee, based on square footage, to the Neighborhood Jobs Trust. The trust supports job training for low and moderate-income residents. By creating this trust, Boston is using its land use authority to mitigate a con of gentrification in addition to displacement – the loss of low-skill jobs.

Right-to-purchase ordinances offer cities, tenants, or both with advanced notice and the right to purchase a multifamily rental property “when the owner decides to sell the property, exit the affordable housing program, or convert the rents to market rate.” These ordinances not only mitigate displacement, but they also create low-income home ownership opportunities for residents in gentrifying neighborhoods. The possibility for home ownership is especially important given that building equity is an equity issue. Homeownership is an established route to building generational wealth, yet Black Americans have a homeownership rate of 46.4% compared to 75.8% for white families. The homeownership and racial wealth gap are the legacy of slavery, segregation, redlining, and other anti-Black policies.

Washington, D.C. runs the oldest right-to-purchase programs in the U.S. via the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and District Opportunity to Purchase Act (DOPA). TOPA gives tenants the opportunity to purchase a building when the owner decides to sell and DOPA gives the D.C. the right to purchase if the tenants do not. Tenant ownership is typically structured through the creation of a limited equity cooperative, where residents collectively own their building with resale restrictions that preserve the long-term affordability of the units. The D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) encourages tenants to exercise their right to purchase to stabilize neighborhoods and prevent displacement. The DHCD provides tenants with financial assistance (seed money, earnest money deposits, acquisition funding, etc.), technical assistance, and “specialized organizational and development services, to include structuring the tenant association, preparing legal documents, and helping with loan applications.”

Some municipalities are going a step further by trying not only to prevent displacement, but also to undo displacement. Local governments are using right-to-return policies to allow displaced people to move back into their communities after being pushed out by gentrification. Portland, Oregon created a right to return policy that allows tenants, mainly minorities, forced out by gentrification to move back to communities with the help of an affordable rent program. The program gives priority to displaced people via a point system that considers three generations of potential displacement.

In February 2021, Providence, Rhode Island released its Anti-Displacement and Comprehensive Housing Strategy. The strategy is a solid case study of how a municipality can address displacement and housing insecurity in the context of climate change, COVID-19, housing insecurity, and racial equity. These pandemics not only adversely affect public health, but they also do so interconnectedly. Therefore, addressing them effectively often means addressing them together. To create affordable housing, the Providence strategy recommends modifying zoning to allow more infill development (via pre-approved architectural designs that developers and property owners can use to build affordable housing on small lots), improve ADU regulations, allow for greater use of row houses, enable cluster development on large residential lots, provide density bonuses for land development projects, and creating a process to approve adaptive reuse administratively. To preserve affordable housing, the Providence strategy recommends creating a mandatory rental housing registry to facilitate code compliance inspections and creating a certificate of habitability that requires inspections every three years. To keep people in their communities, the Providence strategy recommends creating a Right of First Refusal Program to give the city an option to purchase existing income-controlled units.

For additional resources, the Gaining Ground Information Database is a free resource featuring best practice models used by governments to control the use of land in the public interest. Please direct your search toward the Healthy Communities topic.

[*] Gabriella Mickel is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Land Use Scholar in the Land Use Law Center.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Land Use Scholar in the Land Use Law Center.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health
  15. Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses
  16. Segregation by Law and the Racial Inequity Pandemic
  17. Combating Food Swamps to Improve Equity and Public Health
  18. The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings
  19. Remediating Distressed Properties to Improve Public Health
  20. Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health
  21. ADU Introduction
  22. NIMBY Restrictions to Poison the Prospects of Accessory Dwelling Units to Address Housing Insecurity
  23. Zoning to Fill the Missing Middle Housing Gap
  24. Old Tools to Fight Housing Insecurity: Adaptive Reuse and Infill Development
  25. Racial Impact Analyses
  26. A New Era of Equity-Based Comprehensive Planning…Finally
  27. Equity-Based Comprehensive Plans: Land Use Policies to Correct Past Disparities
  28. Reversing the Legacy of Redlining: Reducing Exposure to Toxins and Pollutants Through Land Use Law Reform
  29. Addressing the Four Pandemics – A Case Study
  30. Health Impact Assessments: A New Tool for Analyzing Land Use Plans, Zone Changes, and Development Projects
  31. Putting the “e” in TOD
  32. The Four Pandemics Explained and Addressed by Land Use Law and Policy

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

January 13, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Crafting a state-specific land use law casebook: The example of Idaho

What does a land use law casebook look like if it is written from a state-specific point of view? 

I've thought about this a lot, given that I am a co-author on a national land use law casebook with some amazing co-authors. 

It has also been on my mind for awhile because I went to law school in California, urban planning school in California, practiced land use law in California, but have lived in Idaho for the past 10 years.  While California has a significant literature on planning, Idaho has, well, basically one treatise written by several (very good) lawyers at a local firm.  Does Idaho need anything more? 

Recently, I thought yes.  And so I produced some 1,300 pages of cases and excerpts of law review articles along the lines of what you'd find if you bought one of the national treatises.  The difference is...everything in this casebook is about Idaho.  

Consider that Boise is arguably the fastest-growing city in America, by some standards the least affordable city in America, and that the West faces unprecedented climate risks.  All of this makes the importance of state-based land use law especially important in these places.  Places like Boise, places like Idaho.  I felt this was needed, and so I wrote it.  Maybe it will be of use, and maybe it will have been a lark.  No matter, it is done (at least as far as first editions go).

Below is the table of contents on my inaugural version of the Idaho land use law casebook.  I'd love to see what others have produced in other places, and perhaps begin a conversation about what land use law looks like when we prioritize state-specific law.

The full first edition version of the Idaho land use law casebook is here (for free):  https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3986648

 

 

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December 15, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

CFP: Idaho Law Review symposium on growth and housing affordability

The Idaho Law Review will be holding its annual symposium on land use and growth issues this year.  As some of you may have read in the news, Boise was recently named the least affordable city in America due in large part because of the difference between housing prices, which have grown among the fastest in the country, and local wages, which are among the lowest in the country.  I hope you will consider joining us at this year's symposium and offering some ideas for how to address rapid growth and affordability.  Feel free to reach out to me, if you'd like (millers@uidaho.edu).  Here is the call for papers from the students:

 

The Idaho Law Review invites articles and essays for its 2022 symposium, Boomtown: Growth and the Clash of Identities in the American West. The topics could include (but are not limited to) land use issues in Idaho, the effects of population growth, homelessness, issues with affordable housing, and landlord/tenant law with COVID. Articles and essays could analyze new issues, tell success stories and draw lessons, or explore problems and propose legal and policy recommendations. The Idaho Law Review welcomes essays (typically 2,000–6,000 words) or articles (typically 7,000–10,000 words).  

 
The symposium will be primarily virtual and held online April 22, 2022.  A small event will also be held in Boise on April 21, 2022.  The symposium volume of the Idaho Law Review will be published in Spring, 2022. Interested authors are encouraged to send an abstract describing their proposals to the symposium’s Chief Symposium Editor, Charlotte Cunnington, at cunn5162@vandals.uidaho.edu by December 15, 2021. Submissions of draft articles and essays are due by February 15, 2022 (with some flexibility). 

November 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 13, 2021

35th Annual Land Use Institute National Conference (Oct 19, 20, 26 & 27) (online)

 

 

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September 13, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 30, 2021

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 24: Old Tools to Fight Housing Insecurity: Adaptive Reuse and Infill Development

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 24 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Colt Watkiss [*]

 

Old Tools to Fight Housing Insecurity: Adaptive Reuse and Infill Development

Adaptive reuse is the act of finding a new use for a building.” “Reuse strengthens a community feel by positively linking a city’s past to its future and offering cheap and robust infrastructure to emerging needs, which can spark wholesome renewal processes.” Adaptive reuse can help “[r]emove blighted properties and the accompanying crime from communities, [p]reserve natural resources and the environment, [p]ursue historic preservation, and [p]rotect important intangibles like the community’s sense of place.” Similarly, infill development is the process of developing on vacant or underused land in areas that are largely developed. These are effective solutions considering “[r]esearch link[ing] foreclosed, vacant, and abandoned properties with reduced property values, increased crime, increased risk to public health and welfare, and increased costs for municipal governments.”  

While older buildings, underutilized structures, and vacant lots can be detrimental, they can also provide opportunity for creative re-imagining of spaces. Adaptive reuse can be a tool to promote affordable housing. The potential for reuse to fight housing insecurity was explored as a necessary public health resource during the COVID-19 crisis. California, Oregon, Vermont, and Hennepin County – which includes Minneapolis – all took steps to house homeless individuals in rehabilitated hotels, motels, and other structures that could quickly be converted into non-congregate housing and eventually permanent housing. California had great success with these conversions, starting with Project Roomkey which allowed the use of federal funds to acquire hotel rooms to provide non-congregate shelter for homeless people to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The success of Roomkey prompted the creation of Homekey, which followed a similar template but was broadened towards creating permanent housing. Homekey allocated $846 million, combining federal and state funds, to allow for the purchase and conversion of hotels and other structures into supportive and affordable housing. Between July and December of 2020, California was able to “create more than 6,000 housing units in 94 separate properties, 5,000 of which are destined to become permanent housing units.” In addition to the speed, the average cost of Homekey conversions was $129,254 per unit, compared to “the typical cost per unit to develop new housing in California rang[ing] from roughly $380,000-$570,000.” One of the keys to Homekey’s success was a provision in the statute which allowed Homekey projects as-of-right in whatever zone the purchased property sat in without further review.

Municipalities should consider amending their zoning ordinances to allow for more adaptive reuse in their towns and communities. A strong adaptive reuse ordinance (ARO) was enacted in Santa Ana, California. The ordinance allows for the adaptive reuse of nonresidential buildings to residential units in 4 designated “project incentive areas” if the building either “was constructed in accordance with building and zoning codes in effect prior to July 1, 1974” or “has been determined to be a historically significant building.” One noteworthy development resulting from the ordinance is the Santa Ana Arts Collective, a former bank which has been converted into affordable artist housing containing “58 studios and one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments in the existing building.” St. Petersburg, Florida adopted a similar ARO. Los Angeles is considered one of the preeminent adaptive reuse examples, especially downtown Los Angeles where over 14,000 residential units have been created by converting historic and underutilized buildings. Recent motions have been proposed in Los Angeles to expand the scope of adaptive reuse and promote housing affordability.

Tacoma, Washington launched the Residential Infill Pilot Program 2.0 to address housing through infill development. The program allows Planned Infill housing in single-family zoning districts, two-family or townhouse development, small-scale multifamily development, and cottage housing across five council districts. Bellingham, Washington adopted Chapter 20.28, “intend[ing] to implement comprehensive plan goals and policies encouraging infill development, more efficient use of the remaining developable land, protection of environmentally sensitive areas, and creating opportunities for more affordable housing” and providing special development regulations for housing forms that are not single-family dwellings.

Adaptive reuse is often considerably environmentally sustainable. It can help foster community density, fight sprawl, and some older buildings are built with seasoned materials that are often better quality and not even available today. One report found that “[b]uilding reuse almost always yields fewer environmental impacts than new construction when comparing buildings of similar size and functionality,” and “that it takes 10 to 80 years for a new building that is 30 percent more efficient than an average-performing existing building to overcome, through efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts related to the construction process.” Infill can also benefit the environment by “helping to protect lands…and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

For additional resources, the Gaining Ground Information Database is free and features best practice models used by governments to control the use of land in the public interest. Please direct your search toward the Healthy Communities topic.

[*] Colt Watkiss is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Student Associate at the Land Use Law Center.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health
  15. Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses
  16. Segregation by Law and the Racial Inequity Pandemic
  17. Combating Food Swamps to Improve Equity and Public Health
  18. The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings
  19. Remediating Distressed Properties to Improve Public Health
  20. Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health
  21. ADU Introduction
  22. NIMBY Restrictions to Poison the Prospects of Accessory Dwelling Units to Address Housing Insecurity
  23. Zoning to Fill the Missing Middle Housing Gap

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

August 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 23: Zoning to Fill the Missing Middle Housing Gap

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 23 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Bailey Andree [*]

Zoning to Fill the Missing Middle Housing Gap

Previous blogs, including “Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health,” defined and discussed the seriousness of housing insecurity, one of the four pandemics evaluated by the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project at the Land Use Law Center. Housing demand is outpacing housing supply and new housing needs to respond to a massive demographic shift. In contrast to the mid-late nineteenth century’s nuclear family, one in four households today is a single-person household. One in three adults has never married. The birth rate is dropping. All of these factors contribute to the increasing need for housing variety. Zoning’s emphasis on single-family housing greatly limits the production of different types of housing. Simply put, Missing Middle housing is zoned out in most places.

In response to the worsening housing crisis, there is a trend toward zoning for Missing Middle housing development. Missing Middle zoning permits the development of two-, three-, and four-family housing and smaller-scale multifamily buildings to provide the variety called for by the country’s changing demographics. It is a “range of house-scale buildings with multiple units – compatible in scale and form with detached single-family homes – located in a walkable neighborhood.” These units provide housing for young professionals, senior households, and low- to moderate-income individuals. Missing Middle units may include duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, tiny homes, small apartment buildings, and more. The typical Missing Middle development has 4-8 units per lot or building.

The effects of the housing crisis are widespread. The United States Census Bureau estimates 29.8% of the over 122 million households in the U.S. are cost burdened, spending 30% or more of their monthly income on housing. Equaling over 36 million households, this is a problem a large portion of Americans face. While this is felt by all, the burden weighs heavier on minority groups. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that “30% of Native Americans, 35% of African Americans, and 28% of Hispanic households have extremely low incomes” compared with 22% of white non-Hispanic households. These disproportionate impacts of the housing pandemic paint a clear picture of the crisis we face. Missing Middle housing addresses these impacts on minority communities while also combating economic disparities between traditional single- and multi-family zones.

One method of creating Missing Middle housing is to amend current zoning codes to allow mixed-use or Planned Unit Development (PUD) while maintaining single-family zones. Both Auburn, Maine and North Brunswick, New Jersey have recently amended their zoning codes to allow for PUD to encourage creation of a diverse housing stock, including duplex, townhouse, and garden apartment housing. PUDs are overlay districts that often allow mixed-use in an otherwise single-use zone, including residential and commercial units permitted as of right. Montpelier, Vermont amended its zoning code to create a mixed-use residential district to promote infill while maintaining community character. This technique will allow for much of the zoning code, and therefore community, to remain the same while certain aspects are changed to promote Missing Middle development.

Another zoning method to alleviate the pressures of the housing crisis is to eliminate single-family zones altogether. In Berkeley, California the zoning code was amended to eliminate all single-family zones and replace them with multi-family zones, allowing for development of duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes to alleviate the city’s housing strain. Similarly, Accessory Dwelling Units and duplexes are permitted as of right in all residential zones in Olympia, Washington while cottage houses, triplexes, fourplexes, and townhouses are permitted as of right in most residential zones. Both of these jurisdictions have successfully updated their zoning codes and exemplify the steps municipalities can take to address the affordable housing pandemic.

For additional resources, the Gaining Ground Information Database is free and features best practice models used by governments to control the use of land in the public interest. Please direct your search toward the Healthy Communities topic.

[*] Bailey Andree is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Student Associate at the Land Use Law Center, and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health
  15. Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses
  16. Segregation by Law and the Racial Inequity Pandemic
  17. Combating Food Swamps to Improve Equity and Public Health
  18. The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings
  19. Remediating Distressed Properties to Improve Public Health
  20. Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health
  21. ADU Introduction
  22. NIMBY Restrictions to Poison the Prospects of Accessory Dwelling Units to Address Housing Insecurity

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

August 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UCLA Housing Voice podcast is a "must listen"

If you haven't found it yet, be sure to check out the UCLA Housing Voice podcast, which is available here.  So far there are eight great podcasts covering major academic issues in housing.

August 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 16, 2021

The brilliance of Norfolk, VA's Missing Middle Pattern Book

If you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to take a look at Norfolk, Virginia's new Missing Middle Pattern Book

More than any other idea floating out there about how to produce more affordable housing, I tend to think this is the best option.  Essentially, these are pre-approved designs that can be developed "as of right" in certain districts of the city.  One of the major problems with small-scale infill, which so many people seem to increasingly imagine will resolve our affordable housing crisis, is that it is incredibly risky from a developer and lender perspective.  As a result, I am generally dubious that upzoning from single-family to duplexes or fourplexes will actually yield much new housing except in areas where land values are low compared to a regional average.  I don't think small-scale developers will be able to get loans otherwise.  Of course, the other option would be just to build huge duplexes and fourplexes to get the returns their lenders will demand, which doesn't really help affordability.

The pattern book idea is brilliant because it gives the city some say in what will be developed, should keep costs low by yielding economies of scale, and gives certainty to developers and lenders that will permit them to take on risk of more modest developments. 

Not to mention, most of the places we now view as beautiful or "historic" were built with pattern books commercially available in the late 19th century.  The idea is as good now as it was then.

More on Norfolk here.

 

August 16, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 22: NIMBY Restrictions Poison the Prospects of Accessory Dwelling Units to Address Housing Insecurity

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 22 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Bailey Andree [*]

 

NIMBY Restrictions Poison the Prospects of Accessory Dwelling Units to Address Housing Insecurity

The previous blog “Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health” defined and discussed the seriousness of housing insecurity, one of the four pandemics evaluated by the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity project at the Land Use Law Center. Relatedly, as discussed in “ADU Introduction,” Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are a promising new trend in the national search for solutions to the housing crisis. Local land use laws that allow ADUs open the vast single-family zoned urban landscape to additional housing development. In many communities, however, neighborhood opposition has poisoned the promise of the ADU solution by raising concerns that limit what kinds of ADUs may be created.

Not In My Backyard, or NIMBYism, discourages new development, including ADUs, to protect existing neighborhood character. Many of NIMBY’s proponents – often middle and upper class households – see affordable housing development as bringing an undesirable change into the community and argue that this change will depress property values and increase crime, litter, and violence in the neighborhood. The result of NIMBY opposition to ADU development poisons the prospects of a robust embrace of ADUs as a response to the need for affordable residences in safe neighborhoods.

Where NIMBY provides the political opposition, poison pills provide the legal means to prevent affordable housing development. The term “poison pill” derives its meaning from the poison pills spies would carry in case of capture. Planners began referring to ADU restrictions as poison pills to showcase how the regulations can “effectively kill” the ADU development.  There are many types of poison pills used to prevent and limit ADU construction. The most common, with examples, include:

  1. Owner occupancy requirements. SeaTac, WA requires the primary residence to be occupied by the owner in order to build and rent out an ADU.
  1. Maximum size requirements. Norwalk, CT does not allow ADUs greater than 700 square feet.
  2. Off-street parking requirements. SeaTac, WA requires two off-street parking spaces for ADUs over 600 square feet.
  3. Occupant requirements. West Hartford, CT previously required ADU occupants to be domestic workers for or the family of the primary residence owner. This has been repealed. 
  4. Age and disability requirements. Fairfax, VA requires either an ADU or primary residence occupant to be elderly – at least 55 years old – or “permanently and totally disabled.”
  5. Restrictions on the number of occupants. Newton, MA does not allow the ADU to increase the maximum number of residents permitted beyond what was allowed for a principal dwelling unit alone. 
  6. As-of-right designations. Raleigh, NC previously prohibited ADUs from being permitted as of right in residential zones, significantly limiting ADU development.

To eliminate some of these poison pills, municipalities such as Raleigh, NC have reduced ADU restrictions to address the affordable housing crisis. Raleigh previously restricted ADU construction to one specific overlay zone, did not allow ADUs as of right in any residential zone, and required residents to petition their neighbors when seeking to develop ADUs on their property. Now, Raleigh allows ADUs as of right in all residential zones without any significant restriction on their construction or subsequent use. This promotes affordable housing and encourages diversity in both housing stock and occupancy. Seattle, WA recently enacted zoning legislation that removes significant barriers to ADU development in order to address the city’s housing crisis. The new code removes off-street parking and owner occupancy requirements while also streamlining the approval process for ADU development. Seattle also created a user-friendly website to simplify the process for its residents by connecting homeowners considering ADUs to members of the design and construction community, and it even addresses the high cost of ADU development through access to low-interest financing. Techniques such as these will provide much needed momentum in the ADU process, more effectively addressing the housing insecurity pandemic.

On the state level, Connecticut recently passed a bill that promotes development of ADUs. HB 6107 legalizes ADUs in the state and removes off-street parking requirements. This bill allows ADUs as of right on all properties that contain at least one single-family home. It also prohibits municipalities from implementing several restrictions on ADU development, including minimum age and occupant relationship requirements. Oregon also recently passed HB 2001 addressing ADU creation. The state now requires cities with populations greater than 2,500 or counties with populations greater than 15,000 to allow for ADUs in all single-family zones.

By following those suggestions to implement solutions like Raleigh, Connecticut, or Oregon, municipalities can combat NIMBYism and promote development of ADUs. The national housing crisis demands it.

For additional resources, the Gaining Ground Information Database is free and features best practice models used by governments to control the use of land in the public interest. Please direct your search toward the Healthy Communities topic.

[*] Bailey Andree is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Student Associate at the Land Use Law Center, and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health
  15. Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses
  16. Segregation by Law and the Racial Inequity Pandemic
  17. Combating Food Swamps to Improve Equity and Public Health
  18. The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings
  19. Remediating Distressed Properties to Improve Public Health
  20. Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health
  21. ADU Introduction

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

August 16, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 13, 2021

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 21: ADU Introduction

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 21 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Colt Watkiss [*]

ADU Introduction

This blog begins a series of reports on local land use strategies that mitigate the alarming social, economic, and health impacts of our nation’s housing insecurity crisis. Recently, state and local governments have focused on law reform that permits the addition of dwelling units in neighborhoods zoned exclusively for single-family housing. Since most communities have zoned most of their residential land as single-family, this trend has the potential to greatly increase the limited supply of housing that is at the root of the problem. 

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are typically defined as “additional living quarters on single-family lots that are independent of the primary dwelling unit. The separate living spaces are equipped with kitchen and bathroom facilities.” The “Accessory” in ADU refers to the traditional zoning definition of accessory uses: a use that is subordinate, incidental to, and customarily found in connection with the principal use allowed on a lot by the zoning law. ADUs come in three basic forms: detached – separate, freestanding structures on the same lot as the principal dwelling; attached – attached additions to the main home like a converted garage unit; and interior or junior ADUs (JADUs) – units built inside the principal unit.

ADUs were not a foreign concept for much of American history. Thomas Jefferson lived in essentially an ADU while Monticello was being constructed. Many ADUs were built as “carriage” or “coach” houses.” “Originally built for horse-drawn carriages, the structures…were frequently large enough to double as living quarters for workers and stable hands.” “In-law units” or “granny flats” “grew at a time when multigeneration living was more common.” However, “the rise of the nuclear family resulted in fewer extended family living arrangements and smaller households.” Almost 70% of people aged 65 and older lived with their adult children in 1850. Fewer than 15% did in 2000. But a recent rise in multigenerational households is helping revitalize interest in ADUs as an effective way to house multigenerational families while providing privacy.  

ADUs “began to disappear after World War II when several trends led to urban sprawl and low-density suburban developments.” The rise of restrictive single-family zoning practically stopped ADU development. “Then as now, residential zoning codes typically allowed only one home per lot, regardless of the acreage and with no exceptions.” At the same time, the size of single-family homes grew. “In 1950 the average single-family home was 983 square feet…[I]n 2019 [it] was 2,301 square feet”; however, the size of households has dropped from over 3.5 people per household in 1947 to around 2.5 today.

In spite of zoning restrictions, illegal construction of ADUs continued in communities where the existing housing stock was not meeting demand.” San Francisco had between 20,000 and 30,000 ADUs by 1960, and “90 percent…were built illegally.” In fact, “[i]n some densely occupied East and West Coast communities, illegal ADUs might compose 2% – 10% of housing stock.” “Some cities, including Chicago, grandfathered in pre-existing ADUs — but only if the residences remained consistently occupied.Barnstable, MA, “recogniz[ing] that although unpermitted and unlawfully occupied, these dwelling units are filling a market demand for housing at rental costs typically below that of units which are and have been lawfully constructed and occupied,” created an amnesty program for its illegal ADUs. Owners are allowed to convert them to legal units by complying with certain criteria, including agreeing to rent the unit “to a person or family whose income is 80% or less of the area median income[,] agree[ing] that rent (including utilities) shall not exceed the rents established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a household whose income is 80% or less,” and executing a deed restriction which binds future owners to the same agreements.

Recently, ADUs have begun to come back as many states and municipalities see their benefits, including: providing more affordable houses, fighting housing insecurity, subsidizing homeowners’ income, aiding communities with infill and transit-oriented development by gently densifying neighborhoods, being better for the environment, more seamlessly complementing neighborhood character, and providing more housing options to fit different ages and needs, especially older folks as a group one report predicts will be the biggest growth demographic for households in the next 20 years. 

Despite America’s history with ADUs and the litany of benefits they provide, ADUs are often a highly controversial topic. They run into numerous barriers and face Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) objections that range from fears of parking issues to concerns over losses in property value. Even in jurisdictions that do allow for ADUs, many ordinances are embedded with “poison pills” that discourage the building and occupation of accessory units.

The next blog in this series will discuss types of “poison pills” and how some states and municipalities have removed them to make ADUs more accessible.   

For additional resources, the Gaining Ground Information Database is free and features best practice models used by governments to control the use of land in the public interest. Please direct your search toward the Healthy Communities topic.

[*] Colt Watkiss is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Student Associate at the Land Use Law Center.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health
  15. Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses
  16. Segregation by Law and the Racial Inequity Pandemic
  17. Combating Food Swamps to Improve Equity and Public Health
  18. The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings
  19. Remediating Distressed Properties to Improve Public Health
  20. Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

August 13, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 20: Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 20 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Colt Watkiss [*]

Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health

Housing insecurity is a pandemic plaguing America. Although no uniform definition for housing insecurity exists, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines affordable housing as spending less than 30% of one’s income on housing while spending above 30% is considered cost burdened, and spending above 50% is considered severely cost burdened. An estimated 29.8% of households in the U.S. are cost burdened, equaling over 36 million households, and the affordability crisis is worsening. One report found median home sales prices increased 28% between December 2016 and December 2020, 10% just between December 2019 and December 2020. Meanwhile, the number of existing homes on the market fell from 1.46 million in February 2020 to 1.03 million in February 2021. Vacancy rates for moderate- and low-income rentals are also low while roughly 46% of renters were cost burdened and 24% were severely cost burdened as of 2019. The supply shortage is the consequence of decades of slow housing development. 2010-2019 saw the fewest houses built of any decade in the United States since the 1960s. Freddie Mac estimates that housing supply is 3.8 million units short of meeting long-term demand, and the National Association of Realtors conservatively estimates the deficit is as high as 5.5 million units. “This production shortfall naturally leads to a bias towards higher house prices.

Several forms of housing insecurity exist, and each can be detrimental to health. One study looked at three different forms of housing insecurity – being behind on rent, making multiple moves, and having a history of homelessness – finding each form of housing insecurity “individually associated with increased adjusted odds of adverse health and material hardship compared with [secure] housing.” Another study, which tested five different characteristics of housing – quality, stability, affordability, ownership, and receiving a housing subsidy – “found that the quality of housing – whether a [child’s] home has structural or maintenance deficiencies such as infestations of rodents or cockroaches, exposed wiring and peeling paint, or a lack of light, heat, or hot water – was the most important aspect of housing for children and families.” Experts typically discuss healthy housing in relation to four categories: quality, affordability, stability, and neighborhood location. The first three, combined with the definition of affordable housing, illuminate a more comprehensive definition of housing insecurity.

QUALITY:

Many low-income individuals face the reality that housing they can afford often comes with substandard living conditions. Housing quality can significantly impact health outcomes. Poor quality housing is a contributing factor to infectious diseases, chronic illnesses, injuries, poor nutrition, and mental disorders. One especially prevalent quality issue is exposure to lead. An estimated 24 million housing units contain significant amounts of lead-based paint, 4 million of which house children. Exposure to lead, especially for young children, can cause damage to organs and blood, and it can impair cognitive and socioemotional development. Lead exposure is also significantly negatively associated with IQ and with lower test scores, and, at higher levels, can “cause coma, convulsions and even death.” Another survey found poor housing quality was strongly and independently associated with asthma and emergency department visits for asthma. Additionally, overcrowding within housing units is associated with multiple health issues.

STABILITY:

Frequent moving and residential instability “is associated with emotional, behavioral and academic problems among children, and with increased risk of teen pregnancy, early drug use, and depression during adolescence.” (Click on “Read the issue brief (PDF)” in the previous hyperlink for the full brief). Research has found that “any residential move during childhood is associated with nearly half a year loss in school,” lower educational attainment, and lower earnings later in life. Each additional move is associated with declines in social skills. One study found a significant negative impact on high school graduation probability related to moving. Longer tenure in one’s residence is also “associated with lower levels of depression among seniors and fewer internalizing and externalizing behavioral issues such as anxiety and aggression among adolescents.” In the year following an eviction, one study found “mothers are 20[%] more likely to report depression than their peers” who were not evicted, and some mothers still reported significantly higher rates of depression several years after.

AFFORDABILITY:

Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted, coined the term “the rent eats first.” Essentially, when households face high housing costs, they often must make cuts to other spending, including child enrichment activities, medical care and filling prescriptions, and even food. One survey found homeowners in default or foreclosure, compared to homeowners with no housing strain, suffered worse physical and mental health effects, including being 13 times more likely to suffer serious psychological distress. The experience of foreclosure has been associated with depression, anxiety, alcohol use, and suicide. Stress from being behind on rent also correlates with poor health. Higher homelessness rates correlate with high rents and lack of affordable housing. Homeless individuals face shorter life expectancies, higher rates of traumatic brain injuries, disproportionate risk of morbidity, and risk of physical and sexual violence. Homelessness also severely impacts children, including pre- or post-natal homelessness.

The remaining blogs in the Housing Insecurity series will look at ways state and local governments can help mitigate this pandemic, including allowing and incentivizing accessory dwelling units (ADUs), pursuing adaptive reuse initiatives to add additional housing, and enacting more multifamily zoning above the missing middle threshold, as well as actions being taken to remediate distressed properties.  

For additional resources, the Gaining Ground Information Database is free and features best practice models used by governments to control the use of land in the public interest. Please direct your search toward the Healthy Communities topic.

[*] Colt Watkiss is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Student Associate at the Land Use Law Center.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health
  15. Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses
  16. Segregation by Law and the Racial Inequity Pandemic
  17. Combating Food Swamps to Improve Equity and Public Health
  18. The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings
  19. Remediating Distressed Properties to Improve Public Health

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

August 12, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Hiring Announcement: University of Colorado Law School  

Posted at the request of Prof. Sharon Jacobs...

 

The University of Colorado Law School invites applications from entry-level and lateral candidates for one or more full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty positions to begin at the start of the 2022-23 academic year. We welcome applications from candidates in all subject areas and at all levels of seniority. However, we have especially strong needs in Tax Law, Environmental/Natural Resources Law, Health Law, Business/Commercial Law, American Indian Law, and Race and the Law (broadly construed). We are also very interested in candidates who can teach classes in the first-year curriculum, especially constitutional law, criminal law, legislation and regulation, or property, and in candidates who can teach negotiation/alternative dispute resolution. We seek candidates with great promise or a record of excellence in both scholarship and teaching. Candidates must hold a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school or equivalent degree in a related field.

The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. We are an Equal Opportunity employer, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. We strongly encourage applications from people of color, women, individuals with disabilities, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints would contribute to the diversity of our faculty.

Application materials will not be accepted via mail or email. For consideration, applications must be submitted through the CU Jobs portal at the following link: https://cu.law/jobs. Candidates should apply as soon as possible for full consideration.

For questions, please contact Professor Sharon Jacobs, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, sharon.jacobs@colorado.edu.

August 5, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

CFP: AALS SLG / CED sections co-hosting panel on "Progressive Perspectives on Local Economic Development Moving Forward"

 

AALS Section on State and Local Government Law

2022 AALS Annual Meeting

Call for Proposals

 

Program Description: The AALS Sections on State and Local Government Law and Community Economic Development are seeking speakers for our joint main program at the 2022 AALS Annual Virtual Meeting, “Progressive Perspectives on Local Economic Development Moving Forward.”  This program will explore new ideas for local governments to consider with respect to economic development in a post-pandemic era. The session will focus on law reform and scholarship that seeks to build forward-looking movements that create inclusive economic development, and considers the relevance of core legal tensions concerning regionalism and localism, the limits of government intervention in the economy, impacts of market forces on policy, and similarities and differences to past periods of local growth. The program is intended to be broad in focus. Potential topics include: 

  • What economic development structures did COVID-19 expose as not meeting community needs? How did plans change at the time during the COVID-19 pandemic and how does that inform what should be done for the future (in a progressive, big thinking way)?   
  • How might contested relations between states and localities limit new ideas about local economic development?  
  • What is the role of regionalism as a concept and regional institutions in practice in fostering/frustrating local economic development?   
  • How can economic development tools and process be used to address past economic inequality and ensure future equitable distribution of economic growth?  
  • How does resiliency fit into the conversation around economic development?  

Submission Guidelines: If you are interested in participating, please send a 250-500 word abstract of your proposal. Scholarship associated with the proposal may be at any stage of the publication process from work-in-progress to completed article, but if already completed, scholarship may not be published prior to the Annual Meeting. We welcome legal scholarship across a wide variety of methodological approaches and encourage untenured scholars in particular to submit their work. Each potential speaker may submit only one abstract for consideration. Abstracts must be submitted by Friday, August 20, 2021. Abstracts should be submitted electronically in Microsoft Word format to both Kellen Zale (kbzale@central.uh.edu)and Ted De Barbeiri (edeba@albanylaw.edu). The subject line should read “AALS 2022Joint Program Submission: Local Economic Development.” Submissions will reviewed by members of both Sections’ Executive Committees, and the selected presenters will be notified by early September. Speakers are responsible for paying their own registration fees (AALS will be offering school-wide registration again this year).

August 3, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 2, 2021

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 18: The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 18 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Abigail Dove [*]

The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings

COVID-19 and its many variants are a continuing threat to low-carbon living in urban areas. In many metropolitan areas, tenants of residential and commercial buildings are considering moving out or have moved out of low carbon neighborhoods, threatening their financial viability and relatively low per capita carbon footprint. An alarming number of urban residents are buying homes in less dense suburbs or are working from home rather than in office buildings in urban areas.  This blog proposes, describes, and illustrates the use of a Healthy Building Checklist to be implemented by local land use agencies to encourage and incentivize building owners to adopt needed physical and operational changes, making buildings less susceptible to the spread of viral diseases.

The building codes enforced by municipalities are created and amended by the International Codes Council (ICC), adopted and adapted to regional conditions by state building code agencies, and then passed along to local governments to be enforced as part of the land use building review and approval process. In most states, building codes cannot be amended by local law, even to respond to pandemics and other emergencies that threaten public health. This calls for a new approach.

The Healthy Building Checklist

The Healthy Building Checklist linked below was developed by the Land Use Law Center as an example of design and construction standards for builders, developers, and municipalities to use to make buildings more resilient to viral diseases. The Checklist is not intended to be mandatory, but rather to supplement the requirements and enforcement of current building codes and land use regulations. The Checklist adopts the organization and approach of seven sections of the Construction Specifications Institute’s MasterFormat to create a familiar protocol of building standards that local enforcement officials, developers, and their professional consultants can refer to in discussions about building projects. The Checklist also follows the formatting of the MasterFormat with which local code enforcers are acquainted. Matching the organization of the Checklist with this MasterFormat ensures that the local building code enforcement staff will already have the knowledge and training needed to implement these additions.

We also adjusted the Checklist to conform to recent guidelines that address healthy buildings published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA); this increases the Checklist’s compatibility with current professional practice. The AIA’s checklist is a good example of an evolving source of standards and procedures for embedding healthy building criteria into the review of new or substantially rehabilitated residential and commercial buildings.

The topics included in the Healthy Buildings Checklist focus on:

  • Design of common indoor areas to accommodate social distancing dimensions.
  • Cleaning and maintenance of buildings and their HVAC systems with protocols to provide regular servicing.
  • Limiting points of entry for security/temperature checks and to control movement and the efficient, contactless flow of people.
  • Better use of outdoor spaces for exposure to natural air changes and natural light.
  • Improved ventilation effectiveness, air handling, filtration, and touchless control systems.
  • Proper finishes, touchless controls, and flow for elevator use.
  • Monitoring and controlling relative humidity.
  • Technology upgrades for increases needed for hands-free operations, remote work situations, and equipment monitoring.
  • Electrical upgrade/redesign to accommodate new technology and contactless controls.
  • Use of finishes and materials that can stand up to heavy, regular cleaning and resist the retention of contaminants and that are resistant to the transfer of viruses.
  • Clear graphic signage to assist in establishing designated flow patterns.

The full Healthy Building Checklist is here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IMczXsbFJFvwNC2AmetDh2DZ6cGtEcHE/view?usp=sharing

To incorporate the Checklist’s guidelines into building design, local development staff can call developers and their professional advisors together in a pre-application process. The purpose of this step is to determine the health impacts of the proposal by requiring a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and to incorporate as many of the Checklist’s standards as possible in the developer’s formal application for land use approval.  Requiring a pre-application process, like in Southampton, NY, that includes an HIA will help local governments improve the health of their citizenry.

During this process, localities can incentivize developers to incorporate these guidelines voluntarily. Incentives can include fast-tracking applications, reducing permit fees, and providing valuable density bonuses. In addition, localities can provide a certificate for buildings that comply with a sufficient number of the Checklist’s guidelines. Green building rating systems, such as LEED and the WELL Health-Safety Rating system, provide a convincing example of the value of such certifications. Developers found that tenants are attracted to certified green buildings and that, by complying with voluntary standards, their building’s property value will increase. The same result can be expected when developers can show their buildings comply with a locally created safe buildings checklist of standards that protect occupants from COVID-19 and its variants.

For additional resources, the Gaining Ground Information Database is free and features best practice models used by governments to control the use of land in the public interest. Please direct your search toward the Healthy Communities topic.

[*] Abigail Dove is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Student Associate at the Land Use Law Center.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health
  15. Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses
  16. Segregation by Law and the Racial Inequity Pandemic
  17. Combating Food Swamps to Improve Equity and Public Health

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

August 2, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 15: Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 15 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Jonathon Duffy [*]

Zoning and Lease Mediation as a Way to Retain Critical Small Businesses

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of small businesses throughout the country. These small businesses are the backbone of many of the communities they inhabit and losing them would come with devastating impacts. With a return to “normal” on the horizon, it is important to keep in mind just how much small businesses are still hurting and how much they contribute to walkable urban life, employment, and equity and how to sustain them in normal and troubled times.

            According to a study published by the New York Times in August 2020, one-third of small businesses in New York City will never reopen. That number is even more staggering when one considers that, according to the study, those roughly 80,000 businesses that will never reopen account for approximately 520,000 jobs. Six months after the study’s publication, nine million small businesses nationally were still in danger of shutting down without additional government aid. While all small businesses have been affected, minority-owned small businesses have been especially hit hard with eight out of ten minority-owned small business owners saying they are in poor financial condition, even after receiving government aid.

            These hardships faced by small businesses show just how vulnerable one of the most important sectors of our economy is. The U.S. Small Business Administration reported that two-thirds of jobs added in 2019 were created by small businesses. The 27 million small businesses represent 44% of economic activity and 50% of the total U.S. GDP. Small businesses play a critical role in the inner city where they provide roughly one-third of inner city jobs, as well as goods and services essential to lively and economic commercial neighborhoods. These small businesses and the jobs they represent, in some sense, are the lifeblood of cities and are keeping people tied to city living.

            As cities become more exposed to the vulnerabilities of small businesses and their impacts on the local community and economy, many have turned to zoning and lease mediation to help combat the effects of the pandemic. A popular strategy to accommodate social distancing has been the open streets programs. New York City has used zoning to the advantage of small businesses by allowing businesses to operate in certain streets. Relatedly, Santa Monica approved various zoning changes, including giving small businesses the ability to use their parking lots for outdoor retail and dining. This was done by increasing the change of use parking relief from 3 spaces to 10 and excluding any outdoor dining areas from the parking calculations. In order to remove the pressure of re-opening, Santa Monica also eliminated its one-year abandonment rule for legal, non-conforming uses. Clackamas County, Oregon used variances for areas zoned as commercial, industrial, or institutional to provide more space for social distancing. The County Planning Director of Clackamas County, Jennifer Hughes, stated that these variances could apply to restaurants whose owners wanted to use their parking lots for outdoor dining or to religious groups that wanted to set up a tent outdoors to allow for social distancing during gatherings.

            With the lack of revenue coming in due to the various shutdowns, many small businesses are at risk of eviction. Many owners cannot afford to pay their rent, while landlords only have so much flexibility as they have to pay their mortgages and other fixed expenses. The biggest problem tenants face with their lease is that they are simply not educated as to their rights. The Seattle Eviction Prevention Toolkit aims to address just that. Seattle partnered with local community groups and the law firm Perkins Cole to promote effective communication between landlords and tenants. This toolkit included sample lease provisions designed to mitigate the tensions of recovery, a summary of laws that would have an impact on tenants, and a webinar that explained the legal issues that may arise and how to address them.

            The impacts that small businesses are facing due to COVID-19 cannot be overstated. Many of these small businesses rely on a daily flow of customers just to break even. Their survival and the survival of the local communities that they inhabit are essential to keeping people in cities and to robust employment. The equity aspect of small businesses has come to light through the pandemic, and it is imperative that all businesses are afforded the same chance to rebound. Cities have looked past the basic financial recovery tools to more practical and innovative tools that allow these businesses to get up and running more quickly. City leaders have learned indelible lessons regarding small business vulnerability. As normalcy returns, they are likely to continue using zoning and eviction prevention to save these small businesses and protect them from the continuing risks of the future.

[*] Jonathon Duffy is a third-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Land Use Law Center Volunteer.

Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study
  14. Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health

To subscribe to the GreenLaw Blog, please go to https://greenlaw.blogs.pace.edu/ and click on the “Subscribe” envelope.

July 22, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 14: Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 14 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project

Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Author: Robert O’Connor [*]

Complete Streets: Protecting Public Health

In light of COVID-19’s particular danger to those with underlying medical conditions, many communities are using their capital budgets and zoning requirements to improve public health and resiliency. Communities can improve public health by integrating more physically active options into everyday activities such as travel to and from public spaces, shopping destinations, banks, restaurants, and other areas of recreation. Municipalities can achieve this integration and promote active living by adopting code provisions and techniques that expand multimodal transportation and enhance accessibility and safety of existing pedestrian routes.

 Active living can be defined as “a way of life that integrates physical activity into daily routines.Walking is one of the most common forms of physical activity among adults in the United States. By providing more opportunities for walkability or the use of bicycles, municipalities can decrease dependence on vehicles and increase public health.

            Complete Streets policies have been proven to improve public health and safety. Complete Streets involve creating a network of “streets designed and operated to enable safe use and support mobility for all users.” The purpose of a Complete Streets provision is to increase safe travel opportunities for pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders, and motorists, including children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Features of Complete Streets policies include inclusive roadway design, lane striping, bicycle lanes, paved shoulders suitable for bicyclists, pedestrian safety signs, crosswalks, pedestrian control signals, bus pull-outs, curb cuts, raised crosswalks, ramps, and traffic calming measures.

            In 2015, Smart Growth America, a non-profit entity dedicated to fostering safe, equitable, and sustainable community growth, researched the outcome of 37 Complete Streets projects nationwide. Smart Growth America found that overall Complete Streets projects measurably improved safety for users and increased biking and walking. In the Town of Hamburg, New York, vehicle collisions decreased by 57 percent after implementing a Complete Streets project. Several municipalities saw an increase in pedestrian activity as more trips were taken by bicycle or by walking. Some municipalities reported an increase in bicycle trips of over 600%.

Complete Streets are chiefly funded by municipal budgets, but increasing zoning ordinances encourage private developers to integrate their streets and sidewalks into the municipal network. The city of Troy, New York adopted code provisions that apply to private development projects in addition to public projects. In 2015, Troy’s program, developed by a coalition of citizen groups and various stakeholders, was named one of the best by the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Troy’s municipal code defines "Complete Streets" as “streets that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, in that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to safely move through the transportation network.”

Recognizing a need for delegation and enforcement, Troy has appointed a citizen-run Complete Streets Advisory Board to which quarterly reports on upcoming projects and program results are provided. The feature that sets Troy’s policy apart is its application to “all privately constructed streets, parking lots, and connecting pathways.” In addition, project compliance, whether public or private, is determined based on completing and filing a checklist form. This way, the land use review and approval process is capable of building out its safe streets policies as private development occurs.

[*] Robert O’Connor graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law in May 2021 and was a Land Use Law Center Volunteer.
Brooke Mercaldi is a second-year student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Research Assistant to Professor Nolon.

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience
  13. Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study

July 21, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 13: Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study

 

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 13 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project

Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Researcher: Jessica Roberts

Hazard Mitigation Planning: A Case Study

 

Over the past twenty years, hazard mitigation plans have proliferated at the local level. There are currently more than 24,000 local governments that have “FEMA-approved or approvable-pending-adoption” local hazard mitigation plans. Each plan proposes a wealth of strategies for mitigating natural hazards of every stripe. This blog will showcase how these plans can utilize land-use strategies to mitigate a wide range of natural hazards, including those that jeopardize public health. To do so, this blog will illustrate how Louisville Metro, Kentucky, has developed and implemented its hazard mitigation plan.  

Louisville Metro, Kentucky

Louisville Metro is a merged city-county government lying along the Ohio River in northern Kentucky.  The state’s humid, subtropical climate makes it particularly vulnerable to flooding and extreme heat hazards, both of which pose profound risks to the public’s health. Extreme heat is “the number one weather-related killer in the U.S.,” causing “more fatalities per year than floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined.” Higher temperatures also “contribute to the build-up of harmful air pollutants” linked to respiratory problems. Likewise, flooding jeopardizes public health, as floodwaters can transmit infectious diseases, contaminate food and drinking water, and carry hazardous materials and waste.

In its hazard mitigation plan, Louisville Metro proposes several innovative approaches for mitigating these hazards. For extreme heat, the plan proposes “incentivizing or requiring minimum albedo levels”—that is, levels of solar reflectance for the resurfacing of roofs, streets, and parking lots. The plan also calls for using vegetation management strategies, such as adopting “a comprehensive tree protection ordinance,” since tree canopies are so effective at reducing ambient air temperatures and managing stormwater runoff.

Critically, Louisville Metro developed this plan in conjunction with its comprehensive plan (“Plan 2040”), which allowed Louisville Metro to incorporate the hazard mitigation plan’s objectives into it. Plan 2040 translated these objectives into specific policies, such as to “encourage design elements that address the urban heat island effect.” Such design elements include “the planting and preservation of trees, cool roofs and green infrastructure.” In other policies, Plan 2040 emphasizes the importance of mitigating flood-related hazards. These policies help establish a vision for Louisville Metro’s future, helping to guide future land use decisions in a way that mitigates flooding and extreme heat hazards.  

To implement these policies, Louisville Metro used its Land Development Code. In this Code, Louisville Metro requires the planting of street trees in residential zones and for certain developers to meet tree canopy standards. It further incentivizes the use of high albedo and vegetated roof surfaces through a point system that determines residential density bonuses. In order to locate development away from flood-prone areas, the Code requires buffer areas along protected waterways. These requirements, among others, effectively translate Louisville Metro’s hazard mitigation plan into law.

While Louisville Metro is but one jurisdiction among many engaged in hazard mitigation planning, the process that Louisville Metro undertook exemplifies the expansive role that hazard mitigation plans can play. By incorporating the hazard mitigation plan into the comprehensive plan’s policies and implementing these policies in land use regulations, communities can become more disaster-ready and resilient. This, in turn, can help promote and protect the public’s health.

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic
  12. The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience

July 20, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 19, 2021

Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project, Post 12: The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience

Elisabeth Haub Law School of Law
Pace University
Land Use Law Center
Supervisor: John R. Nolon, Distinguished Professor
Blog No. 12 of the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
Editor: Brooke Mercaldi
Contributing Researcher: Jessica Roberts

The Role of Hazard Mitigation Planning in Promoting Public Health and Resilience

This past year has been, in a word, disastrous. Wildfires burned a record-number of four million acres across California. Phoenix set a record for extreme heat with more than 144 days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The Midwest experienced the costliest thunderstorm in U.S. history. The east coast experienced so many hurricanes that forecasters ran out of Latin alphabet letters to name them all. And, of course, all these events occurred in the context of an even larger and more deadly disaster: COVID-19.

As we continue to rebuild and recover from these disasters, it is important to remember that they can, and likely will, happen again. As climate change accelerates, the frequency and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes, extreme heat, drought, wildfire, and flooding will likely increase. As temperatures and flooding increase, so too may the transmission of vector-borne diseases, such as the Zika virus and West Nile virus.

In 2000, Congress recognized that mitigating the negative impacts of natural hazards begins with a plan. To encourage pre-disaster planning, Congress enacted the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA). This Act provides funding and technical assistance to state and local governments, often contingent on whether these entities develop a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan (HMP). This requirement has led to a proliferation of local HMPs throughout the country, each addressing the hazards that the locality is most vulnerable to and proposing innovative strategies to reduce such vulnerability.

Every local, FEMA-approved, HMP includes an assessment of the “type, location and extent of all natural hazards that can affect the jurisdiction.” Natural hazards are defined as including any “source of harm or difficulty created by a meteorological, environmental, or geological event.” Such events can include floods, hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, landslides, and even pandemics.  Since many of these hazards are intricately tied to climate change, some HMPs go a step further by assessing how climate change impacts the community’s resilience and disaster readiness. Local governments then use these assessments to craft innovative strategies that mitigate hazards within the locality.

While these strategies vary widely, many draw on traditional land use planning and regulatory techniques. These include comprehensive planning and zoning, as well as the imposition of site plan, building, and vegetation requirements. To illustrate, HMPs may call for implementing an overlay zone that maps where floods, wildfires, or landslides are most likely to occur. Within this zone, HMPs may call for specific development standards that mitigate the impact of natural disasters, such as impervious surface coverage, vegetation, and site layout requirements. HMPs may also require the local government to incorporate the HMP’s goals, objectives, and strategies into the comprehensive plan so that subsequent zoning is in conformance with it, ensuring that the locality guides future development in a way that promotes resiliency and disaster readiness.

The next blog in this series will explore these strategies more in-depth, showcasing how local governments have utilized HMPs to mitigate natural hazards, prepare for climate change, and promote public health.

  1. Reframing Sustainability: Introducing the Land Use, Human Health, and Equity Project
  2. Planning for Public Health: A New Beginning for Land Use Law
  3. The Role of Density in Combatting Climate Change and COVID-19
  4. Novel Coronavirus Claims Implicate Age-Old Property Rights Questions
  5. State & Local COVID-related Emergency Powers: Individual Rights
  6. COVID-Related Land Use Regulations and Judicial Deference
  7. Mediation of Eviction Disputes May Hold the Key to the Survival of Small Businesses
  8. Using Zoning to Help Eliminate Food Deserts: A Few Steps Forward
  9. Urban Heat Islands and Equity
  10. Urban Heat Island and Equity: What Can Local Governments Do?
  11. The Recovery Lease: Preventing Evictions of Commercial Tenants During the Pandemic

July 19, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)