Saturday, January 21, 2012

Land use in the urban century

2000-cincinnati-mapToday is my birthday, and it has me thinking about what rich times these are for those of us that study land use and cities.  Last year we had the announcement of the birth of the seven billionth person on the planet, and 2008 was the first time in human history that the world population was more urban than rural.   Those interested in how population growth, especially in cities, is manifesting in terms of land use patterns will enjoy checking out the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s Atlas of Urban Expansion.  The website provides an enormous range of data on the historical land use of cities, as well as vivid images of how the land areas of numerous cities around the world have changed over time.  To the right is an image from the website showing the land mass change in my hometown, Cincinnati, from 1990 to 2000.  So much can change in a decade!  Well worth a look, and may well provide grist for the article mill!

Stephen Miller

Citation as requested by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy:  Angel, S., J. Parent, D. L. Civco and A. M. Blei, 2010. Atlas of Urban Expansion, Cambridge MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, online at


January 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fracking wastewater, earthquakes, and the stream of interstate commerce

Growing up in Ohio, I recall the chandelier in our dining room shaking occasionally when military planes from a nearby air base would fly too low. Now, it appears, chandeliers are shaking all over Youngstown, which has had eleven ... that’s right ... eleven earthquakes in the last year for a town that had previously recorded zero earthquakes in its history.

One of those earthquakes, on New Year’s Eve, registered 4.0. That’s big enough to do more than shake chandeliers; it’s rattling nerves. Right now, the biggest potential culprit for all the shaking going on is injection wells associated with the hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) boom that has taken the region. Last week, 500 residents attended a public meeting about the quakes, which have been centered near a well that has been used for the disposal of millions of gallons of brine and other waste liquids produced at natural-gas wells, mostly in Pennsylvania. Earlier this month Governor John Kasich ordered a moratorium on wastewater injection wells within a five-mile radius of the well that may be the culprit. 

An intriguing aspect of this story to me was that much of the wastewater injected into the Ohio well came from Pennsylvania fracking operations. A petroleum executive representing the Ohio Oil & Gas Association at last week’s public meeting stated, "There are all types of interstate commerce, that happens to be one of them.” He continued, “Pennsylvania is not Afghanistan. It's the state next to us.” 

The question of the interstate flow of fracking wastewater appears to be heating up.  A proposed bill in the New Jersey Legislature would provide that, “No wastewater resulting from hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of natural gas exploration or production in any state may be treated, discharged, disposed of, or stored” in New Jersey.  Opponents of the New Jersey bill are charging that such legislation would violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in City of Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U.S. 617 (1978), which held that New Jersey’s prohibition on "solid or liquid waste which originated or was collected outside the territorial limits of [New Jersey]” from being disposed of in New Jersey violated the Dormant Commerce Clause.

This seems to raise a high stakes question:  would fracking wastewater fall within the holding of City of Philadelphia?  In other words, if Youngstown decides it is tired of earthquakes, can it limit Pennsylvania fracking wastewater from being disposed of in Ohio?  It seems to me we might well find this question litigated as not just fracking, but the disposal of fracking wastewater, heats up in Ohio, New Jersey, and elsewhere.

Stephen Miller

January 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ALPS deadline!

Registration for the annual meeting of the Association for Law, Property, and Society--i.e., ALPS--ends tomorrow, Jan. 20.  So give your paper topic one last edit and then by all means submit it and register for the conference

ALPS has quickly become the very best academic conference for property, land use, and envrionmental law scholarship, and the collegiality is unmatched.  Hope to see you there.

Matt Festa

January 18, 2012 in Conferences, Property, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Urban Gardens in Cleveland

Cleveland-ohio-urban-gardens-by-cleveland-kid-4We've posted a few items about Cleveland, since it is a great city on that edge of transition; it has undertaken some ambitious programs to deal with abandoned properties as well as to promote urban green uses, as Catherine LaCroix has written about.  From, here's an inspiring photo gallery: Thousands of Vacant Houses Set to Bloom into Urban Gardens in Cleveland, Ohio.

So far Cleveland has flattened 6,400 homes since 2005, and a further 20,000 are on the cards for demolition throughout the County.

Thanks to Autumn Richards for the pointer.

Matt Festa

January 18, 2012 in Agriculture, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Obama to reject Keystone pipeline, Washington Post reports

The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration will announce it is rejecting the Keystone pipeline application later today.  Here is what the Post is saying:

The Obama administration will announce this afternoon it is rejecting a Canadian firm’s application for a permit to build and operate a massive oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border, according to sources who have been briefed on the matter.

However the administration will allow TransCanada to reapply after it develops an alternate route through the sensitive habitat of Nebraska’s Sandhills. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns will make the announcement, which comes in response to a congressionally-mandated deadline of Feb. 21 for action on the proposed Keystone pipeline.

Stephen Miller

January 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ellickson on the Bundle of Sticks

Last fall we posted about the Econ Journal Watch Symposium "Property: A Bundle of Rights?," with contributions from a number of leading scholars.  Just recently, Robert Ellickson's contribution was posted on SSRN, and it's worth a highlight: Two Cheers for the Bundle-of-Sticks Metaphor, Three Cheers for Merrill and Smith, Econ Journal Watch, Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 215, September 2011.  The abstract:

Viewing property rights as a “bundle of sticks” can be descriptively clarifying because the law commonly entitles an owner of a particular resource to split up entitlements in it. Nonetheless, Thomas Merrill and Henry Smith, the most prominent critics of the metaphor, assert that this conception both ignores the existence of various legal constraints on the decomposition of property rights, and also encourages lawmakers to support the excessive splintering of entitlements. These concerns are well-grounded. More controversial are Merrill and Smith’s inclinations to equate private property with property generally, to deny that human capital can be characterized as property, and to assert that affirmative duties never attach to property ownership.

All of the essays from the Bundle Symposium are very, very interesting.  We've previously mentioned the ones by Larissa Katz and Stephen Munzer.  As many of us begin the Property course this spring semester, it's incredibly helpful to read all of these fresh insights and thoughtful debates that make the classic metaphor still relevant.

Matt Festa

January 18, 2012 in Property, Property Rights, Property Theory, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nelson Symposium--Digging up some Dirt (Law)

Michael Allan Wolf sends along information about the 11th Robert Nelson Symposium at the University of Florida School of Law: “Digging Up Some Dirt (Law): How Recent Developments in Real Property Law Affect Landowners and Local Governments.”  From the description:

“Digging Up Some Dirt (Law): How Recent Developments in Real Property Law Affect Landowners and Local Governments” will welcome national and state experts to explore the impact on landowners and local governments of recent and proposed changes in the law of adverse possession, eminent domain, easements and mortgages.

Here is a link to the brochure.  You can register at the website.  Looks like a timely and interesting event with an excellent lineup of speakers, including Carol Brown (UNC), Ann Marie Cavazos (FAMU), Alex Johnson (UVA), Jessica Owley (Buffalo), and Professor Wolf (UF).

Matt Festa

January 18, 2012 in Conferences, Conservation Easements, Eminent Domain, Local Government, Mortgages, Scholarship, Servitudes | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Charles M. Haar, RIP

HaarFrom Michael Allan Wolf comes the sad news that Charles M. Haar has passed away.  Haar, the Louis D. Brandeis Professor Emeritus at Harvard Law School, was one of the true giants of legal scholarship and teaching in the fields of land use and local government.  From the Harvard tribute:

Professor Emeritus Charles M. Haar ‘48, a pioneer in land-use law whose scholarship focused on laws and institutions of city planning, urban development and environmental issues, died on January 10, 2012. He was 91.

During his more than five-decade career, Haar influenced urban policy and planning throughout the country, drafted key legislation for inner city revitalization, developed influential legal theories to support equality of services for urban dwellers and access to suburbs, helped pioneer the modern environmental movement, and mentored a generation of scholars and activists.

“Charles Haar was a genuine pioneer who created new ways of making scholarship relevant to the improvement of the human condition through the improvement of the environment,” observed Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. “He was a visionary leader in the field of land use law and urban planning with a focus on improving the lives of all Americans, regardless of race or economic status. His legacy includes major tenets of the modern-day environmental movement and the way we teach and study environmental law. It also includes the generations of students to whom he was a mentor and friend, and the contributions they made after learning from him. He will be deeply missed.”

Please read the whole thing for a full appreciation of Professor Haar's amazing contributions to teaching, scholarship, and service.  He served the legal profession and the nation in numerous ways, from his WWII military service, to extensive participation in professional organizations, to service to presidential administrations and legislation-drafting.  His scholarship has been incredibly influential.  I am currently in the middle of reading his 1990 book Zoning and the American Dream: Promises Still to Keep (with Jerold S. Kayden) which is just one of his many important books, casebooks, and treatises.  Testimony from his students and colleagues, such as Prof. Wolf, speaks to his deep humanity and profound influence as a teacher and mentor.

We are all in a great debt to Charles M. Haar as one of the pioneers of land use law in scholarship and practice.  Professor Haar was instrumental in creating the field that we now know as land use law.  "Land Use" has strong doctrinal and practical ties to property law, state & local government law, environmental law, and other fields; but it has only been because of the work of Professor Haar and his colleagues and students that Land Use Law has been recognized as its own separate field of study and practice in law, and as an important part of our society.  May we all be inspired to serve by the example of Charles M. Haar.

Matt Festa

January 17, 2012 in History, Planning, Politics, Property, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Olympics, Marathons, and Parades

028Last year I posted about the Houston Marathon, and my observations about how the route did a good job of taking the runners through a diverse set of neighborhoods, from older to newer, urban to suburban, residential to business.  This year I am even more impressed with another land use angle: the incredible amount of planning it must have taken to pull off the events in town this past weekend--

First, on Saturday Houston hosted the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.  The race route was designed to simulate the Marathon route planned for London, including a gratuitous hairpin turn.  Congrats to Meb and Flanagan!

On Sunday was the regular Marathon--on a different course--for the other 26,000 of us who didn't qualify for the Trials, plus over 250,000 volunteers and spectators.

And between Saturday and Monday, there were five separate Martin Luther King Day parades.

Planning for the street closures alone must have been an enormous task (check out the 11-page spreadsheet), let alone the interagency and public-private cooperation that's necessary for a weekend like this.  It requires organization, community involvement, and a great deal of technical planning expertise.  These things have huge impacts on traffic, transit, facilities, sanitation, sustainability, policing, budgets, and a great array of other local planning issues. 

024We often take having "big events" for granted in a big city, but as a former logistician I'm always impressed by all the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to pull these things off.  And as land use lawyers we should appreciate the very hard work and the professionalism that our colleagues in city planning, local government, and community organizations bring to improve civic life.

So, good job everyone, and please pass the ibuprofen.

Matt Festa 

January 17, 2012 in Downtown, Houston, Local Government, Planning, Sustainability, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Martin Luther King, Civil Rights, and Housing

Hope everyone had a good Martin Luther King Day yesterday.  An important part of Dr. King's legacy is his involement in advocating against de facto residential segregation and for fair and affordable housing as part of a broader conception of civil rights.  On this issue, King did more than make speeches-- he actually moved his family's home.  From the Chicago Encyclopedia:

King relied on his lieutenant James Bevel to energize the first phases of the campaign, but in January 1966 he captured national headlines when he moved his family into a dingy apartment in the West Side ghetto. It was not until June that King and his advisors, under pressure to produce results, settled on a focus for the Chicago movement. King himself participated in two dramatic marches into all-white neighborhoods during a two-month open-housing campaign during the summer of 1966. These fair-housing protests brought real estate, political, business, and religious leaders to the conference table for “summit” negotiations.

And the Chicago Tribune:

The marches led to an accord that year between the protesters and the Chicago Real Estate Board. The board agreed to end its opposition to open-housing laws in exchange for an end to the demonstrations. Before he left town, King said it was "a first step in a 1,000-mile journey."

A journey that still continues.

UPDATE: Steve Clowney at Property Prof links to an opinion piece on Dr. King's legacy and fair housing in New Jersey today.

Matt Festa

January 17, 2012 in Affordable Housing, Chicago, History, Housing, Politics, Property Rights, Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Webinar: Service and Learning in Times of Disaster

From Prof. J.P. "Sandy” Ogilvy (Catholic)

Webinar – Friday, February 17, 2012, 2:00 – 3:30 pm (EST)

Title: Service and Learning in Times of Disaster

Topic: Disasters, natural and man-made, can strike any community at any time. For the most part, law schools are unprepared to respond to disasters, although law schools have abundant resources that can be brought to bear as part of a disaster response effort. This webinar is part of an effort to help law schools prepare to become legal first responders in the event of a disaster in their communities or beyond. The interactive program will present models of disaster response forged from these disasters – New York Law School’s 9-11 Response, Loyola New Orleans’ Katrina Clinic, University of Miami’s Haitian TPS Project, and the University of Detroit Mercy’s Foreclosure Defense Clinic – and begin a dialogue that we hope will lead to the creation of a law school disaster relief network.

Who should attend: Law school deans and administrators Law school faculty, both clinical and doctrinal Potential law school partners, including Legal Services providers and Bar leaders What will you learn: The disaster response contributions made by law students, law schools, and law school clinics with the concomitant opportunities for professional skills training, responding to client and community needs, and opportunities for community collaborations How law schools and clinics can begin to develop formal plans for disaster response and develop the elements of such plans or “best practices,” including: networking among law schools, law clinics, legal services providers and social service relief organizations; training for anticipated legal needs; creating a legal first responder corps; connecting with communities and community organizations; and ideas for the creation of a law school disaster relief network.

Presenters: Stephen J. Ellmann, New York Law School Bill Quigley and Davida Finger, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Joon Sung, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law JoNel Newman, University of Miami School of Law J.P. “Sandy” Ogilvy, Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law

Participants will be able to ask questions of the presenters via email. To be a part of this Webinar, send an email to to request registration information. There is no charge for participation, but space is limited, so reserve your space soon.

Jamie Baker Roskie

January 17, 2012 in Lectures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 16, 2012

HUD’s Moving to Opportunity study provides long-term analysis of neighborhood effects on residents

MTOOn January 26, 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. moved into a run-down section of Chicago’s West Side to bring attention to housing issues and segregation.  On this day that commemorates all his efforts, it seems appropriate to consider a recently released report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which analyzes what is likely the most detailed, long-term look at neighborhood effects on residents.  What follows here is a brief description of the report’s findings.

HUD’s Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing study released its final report in November, 2011 (MTO).  MTO was a large, long-term study authorized in 1992 to determine whether living in a less economically and socially distressed neighborhood could improve well-being and long-term life chances.  It was the first random-assignment social science experiment designed to identify the causal effects of moving from a high-poverty to a low-poverty neighborhood.  From 1994 to 1998, the program enrolled 4,604 low-income households in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, and was limited to households with children that were living in public or government-subsidized, project-based housing in high-poverty areas.  Enrolled families were assigned randomly to one of three groups:  the experimental group, which received Section 8 rental assistances that could only be used in census tracts with poverty rates below 10 percent, and mobility counseling to assist in leasing a new unit; the Section 8 only group received regular Section 8 vouchers they could use anywhere and no special mobility counseling; and the control group, which received no certificates or vouchers, but remained eligible for project-based housing.  Forty-eight percent of the experimental group moved to a lower-poverty neighborhood; and sixty-three percent of the Section 8 only group moved to a non-project location. 

Long-term findings regarding mobility found that the experimental and Section 8 groups were more likely than the control group to:  live in lower-poverty neighborhoods; live in higher-quality homes; reside in slightly less racially segregated neighborhoods, though most remained in majority-minority neighborhoods; have more social ties with relatively more affluent people; and feel safer in their neighborhoods. 

Long-term findings regarding physical health found that adults in the experimental and Section 8 group had:  a lower prevalence of extreme obesity; a lower prevalence of diabetes; fewer self-reported physical limitation; and similar rates of hypertension and health-related risk. 

Long-term findings regarding mental health found that, compared with the control group, adults in the experimental or Section 8 group had:  lower levels of psychological distress; lower prevalence of depression or anxiety; and similar rates of most other mental health problems.  Mental health of children ages 10-20, however, varied by gender.  Female youth ages 10 – 20 in the experimental group, relative to the control group, had:  a lower prevalence of any lifetime mood disorder; fewer serious emotional or behavioral difficulties; fewer panic attacks in the past year; less psychological distress; lower prevalence of oppositional defiant disorder; and similar rates of other mental health problems.  When compared to the control group, male youth ages 10 – 20 in the experimental group: showed increased lifetime post-traumatic stress disorder; and prevalence of the disorder among male youth in the Section 8 group were 3 percentage points higher than in the control group.

With regard to economic self-sufficiency, compared with the control group, experimental and Section 8 group adults had:  similar employment levels and earnings; similar incomes; less food insufficiency; and somewhat higher use of food stamps in the experimental group.

In Strength to Love, King wrote, “The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.”  HUD’s study quantifies King’s moral assertion, making clear that good neighbors have significant, long-term effects on a number, though not all, key life factors.  The study’s results may well influence future policy choices for affordable and fair housing, and provide insights for what a new neighborhood can, and cannot do, for individuals.

Stephen Miller

January 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Documentary “Urbanized” covers land use themes

Urbanized_photoThose of you looking for a little diversion, or perhaps a land use-related movie for class, might want to check out Gary Hustwit’s great new documentary film, Urbanized (2011), that touches on a number of urban design and land use issues.  It is available online as of this weekend and will be released on DVD February 14.  Those of you in big cities may still be able to catch it in theaters.

In a review in The New York Times, A. O. Scott wrote:

Those of us who live in cities — more than half the world’s population, according to many recent estimates — experience them mainly at eye and street level. Each urban environment has its own character and can therefore seem more like the result of natural processes than of complex human intentions. A city develops organically, through the complex interplay of economics, biology and countless local, individual decisions, but also by means of planning on the part of architects, engineers and politicians.

The mingling of design and happenstance is, to some extent, the deep subject of “Urbanized,” Gary Hustwit’s fascinating, idea-packed new documentary. In this remarkably concise film — which could easily have sprawled to 15 hours on public television — Mr. Hustwit and his crew survey both the challenges and promises facing some of the world’s important cities.

Maybe a good learning tool, and at the very least, a fun diversion!

Stephen Miller

January 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)