Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Governor Brown vetoes bills that would have created California NMTCs and California Historic Preservation Tax Credits

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed two pieces of legislation, one that would have provided California New Markets Tax Credits for development in low income areas and another that would have provided California historic preservation tax credits, both modeled on the federal tax credit schemes.  The Governor's veto messages noted that the California NMTCs would require $200 million in state funds, while the California historic preservation tax credits would have required $400 million in state funds.  See veto messages here and here.  Apparently the Governor did not think that was a good use of funds.

More on the proposal for California NMTCs from proponents here.  More on the proposal for California historic preservation tax credits here.

Stephen R. Miller

September 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Freakanomics takes on regulating the sharing economy

Earlier this month, the Freakanomics radio show did an hour-long program on local governments' efforts to regulate the sharing economy.  It is a really fascinating show.  Worth a listen:


Stephen R. Miller

September 28, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Are BIDs Good for Business?

There's a fascinating new study out by Stacey Sutton (Columbia - GSAPP), Are BIDs Good For Business?  The Impact of BIDs on Neighborhood Retailers in New York City, which is in the September edition of the Journal of Planning Education and Research.  There are a number of interesting results of her study.  Worth checking out.  Link here.

Hat tip to Jonathan Rosenbloom, who sent the article my way.

Stephen R. Miller

September 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Registration open for inaugural Idaho Symposium on Energy in the West: Transmission and Transport of Energy in the Western U.S. and Canada: A Law and Policy Road Map to 2050

I am proud to announce that registration is now open for the inaugural Idaho Symposium on Energy in the West, a collaboration between the University of Idaho College of Law and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at Idaho National Labs.  This first meeting of the Symposium series will be held November 13-14 at the legendary Sun Valley facilities in Ketchum, Idaho.  

This year's theme is "Transmission and Transport of Energy in the Western U.S. and Canada:  A Law A Final 1 Color Logo and Policy Road Map to 2050."  We are still tinkering with the line-up but confirmed speakers already include some of the leading voices in western energy law and policy:

Featured Speakers

In addition to our energy law luminaries, we will also be hosting a young scholars "rapid fire" session, including:

You can learn more about this exciting new collaboration here or, if you need a visit out to Hemingway Country, why not register and come and join us in person?  Even if you can't make the trip, we will be livestreaming the event, and you will be able to watch wherever you may be.

Stephen R. Miller





September 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Resilience, Smart Growth and Equitable Development on Long Island

Check out EPA's Greening The Apple blog, which reported today on a collaboration between Touro Law Center's Land Use & Sustainable Development Institute and the Long Island Smart Growth and Resiliency Partnership (LISGRP):  Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Resilience, Smart Growth and Equitable Development on Long Island | Greening The Apple. LISGRP is partnership of EPA, FEMA, New York State Department of State, Suffolk County, Nassau County and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) formed shortly after Super Storm Sandy to help Long Island rebuild in a smarter, stronger and more resilient fashion. 

Among other projects that focus on the intersection of climate resiliency and smart growth, LISGRP is working with Touro Law Center to place law students with the City of Long Beach to support sustainable rebuilding. Consistent with priorities identified in the City's recently completed NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan, the City is implementing recommendations from a Global Green Technical Assistance project (funded through a grant from EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program) and a New York University study on green infrastructure and storm water management.

Thus, according EPA Greening the Apple bloggers Joe Siegel and Rabi Kieber, LISGRP and its collaborators are "turning lemons into lemonade" in the wake of the devestation of Super Storm Sandy.

...Long Island Smart Growth Resiliency Partnership has turned lemons into lemonade by incorporating not only climate change resilience but smart growth and equitable development into long term planning on Long Island. The groundbreaking work of the Partnership will no doubt serve as a model for other recovery efforts in Region 2 and beyond.

Posted by Professor Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Director of Touro Law's Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute. You can follow the Institute's blog here, and contact Professor Adams-Schoen by email or phone (sadams-schoen@tourolaw.edu, (631)761-7137).

September 26, 2014 in Beaches, Climate, Coastal Regulation, Community Economic Development, Federal Government, Green Building, Local Government, Planning, Smart Growth, State Government, Sustainability, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Comment Period for the DRECP (renewable energy development in the California desert)

The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), a major component of California's renewable energy planning efforts, seeks to provide effective protection and conservation of desert ecosystems while allowing for the appropriate development of renewable energy projects.

The DRECP is focused on the desert regions and adjacent lands of seven California counties - Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego. It is being prepared through an unprecedented collaborative effort between the California Energy Commission, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also known as the Renewable Energy Action Team.

The plan is now available for comment now through January 9, 2015. Lots of interesting land use questions in there to consider!


September 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Urban Affairs Association Annual Meeting (abstracts due soon!)

45th Annual Meeting of the Urban Affairs Association
Miami, Florida

April 8-11, 2015

Call for Participation


Abstract/Proposal Deadline: October 1, 2014
(Late proposals or abstracts are not accepted)

The Urban Affairs Association (UAA) is the international professional organization for urban scholars, researchers, and public service/nonprofit professionals. UAA is dedicated to: creating interdisciplinary spaces for engaging in intellectual and practical discussions about urban life.  Through theoretical, empirical, and action-oriented research, the UAA fosters diverse activities to understand and shape a more just and equitable urban world. This goal is sought through a number of activities including an annual spring conference. This year’s annual conference will consist of several dynamic elements.  Here are some of the key components:

Special Conference Theme: Transnationalism from Above and Below: The Dynamics of Place-making in the Global City

This year’s conference theme focuses on place-making in the “global city,” with particular attention given to the actors, processes, strategies, and contingencies that shape urban settings and urban life. Thus, the conference theme will explore actions and processes from above (e.g. transnational capital and political institutions), as well as below (e.g. the work of civil society organizations, and the everyday actions of ordinary people).  Miami provides an apt setting for this exploration. Long established as a link between the United States and Latin America and a stronghold of Cuban American culture and political power, Miami is a regional destination for immigration, yet remains home to substantial Anglo and African American populations. The city now plays a prominent role as a regional trading hub encompassing international banking, finance, information technology, and other high-end service industries. Moreover, as a coastal city in an era of climate change and increasingly high-profile natural disasters, Miami is poised for change through global environmental processes. Against this backdrop, the conference plenary and individual presentations will examine how cities are adapting to meet global economic and environmental imperatives, who is engaged in leading these changes, and what opportunities and challenges these leaders face in mediating local outcomes.

Special Track on Urban Health: Proposals for papers, posters and pre-organized sessions are welcomed for a special conference track on urban health. As cities become the dominant context for human life, researchers have increased their focus on understanding the role of urban contexts in determining health outcomes. This track provides an opportunity to explore research on a broad array of health indicators and trends in cities, as well as the relationship between urban conditions such as housing, schools, jobs, and environmental factors, and disparities in health.

Special Track on Geopolitics in Latin America

Workshop on Urban Education Activism

Professional Development Workshops for Graduate Students

Local Study Tours (e.g., Housing Redevelopment; Environmental Sustainability Projects; Immigration Projects). Details available in January.

Special conference scholarships for presentations related to urban communication/media roles in urban contexts/urban design/architecture

We welcome proposals for presentations that address any of the topics listed below in any context across the globe:

UAA Approved Topic Categories

In keeping with the tradition of UAA Annual Meetings, we encourage proposals that focus on an array of research topics including:

  • Arts, Culture in Urban Contexts
  • Disaster Planning/Disaster Management for Urban Areas, Cities and National Security
  • Economic Development, Redevelopment, Tourism, Urban Economics, Urban Finance
  • Education Policy in Urban Contexts, Educational Institutions and Urban Inequalities
  • Environmental Issues, Sustainability
  • Globalization, Multi-national Urban Issues
  • Governance, Intergovernmental Relations, Regionalism, Urban Management
  • Historic Preservation, Space and Place
  • Historical Perspectives on Cities, Urban Areas
  • Housing, Neighborhoods, Community Development
  • Human Services and Urban Populations, Nonprofit/Voluntary Sector in Urban Contexts
  • Immigration, Population and Demographic Trends in Urban Areas
  • Infrastructure, Capital Projects, Networks, Transport, Urban Services
  • Labor, Employment, Wages, Training
  • Land Use, Growth Management, Urban Development, Urban Planning
  • Poverty, Welfare, Income Inequality
  • Professional Development, The Field of Urban Affairs
  • Public Safety in Urban Areas, Criminal Justice, Household Violence
  • Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Diversity
  • Social Capital, Democracy and Civil Society, Social Theory, Religion and the City
  • Urban Communication (Urban Media Roles, Urban Journalism, Social Media/Technology in Urban Life)
  • Urban Design, Urban Architecture
  • Urban Indicators, Data/Methods, Satisfaction/Quality of Life Surveys
  • Urban Politics, Elections, Citizen Participation
  • Urban Theory, Theoretical and Conceptual Issues in Urban Affairs
  • SPECIAL TRACK: Urban Health
  • SPECIAL TRACK: Cities in Contemporary Geopolitics: Latin America and Beyond

Proposal Submission Formats and Policies

Submit a proposal through the UAA website for a:

  • Research paper presentation--(proposal requires an abstract) OR
  • Pre-organized panel--(proposal requires a group of 4-5 paper abstracts with moderator) OR
  • Pre-organized colloquy-- (proposal requires theme statement & names of 4-5 formal discussants) OR
  • Breakfast roundtable--(proposal requires theme statement & names of 1-2 conveners) OR
  • Poster--(proposal requires an abstract)

UAA will not accept any proposals (of any kind) after October 1, 2014, 12 midnight Central Daylight Time (CDT) or 5:00am GMT.  The online submission site will close at 12:01 am CDT. Acceptance or rejection notices will be sent by November 17, 2014

Participation Policy ---One Session Rule

Individuals are limited to participating (as a presenter, speaker or moderator) in one (1) conference session.  A conference session is defined as: a panel, a colloquy, a poster display, or a breakfast roundtable. There is no limit to the number of papers/posters for which you are a co-author. Policy exception: persons asked to play a service role for UAA can participate in one additional session.

Conference Hotel and Participant Registration Rates

All conference activities (except where noted) will take place at The Intercontinental Hotel located along Miami’s Biscayne Bay. The UAA website will have a direct link for hotel reservations.  WARNING: The conference occurs the week after Easter when many schools will be on holiday which will fill up most hotels. The UAA block of rooms is expected to fill up by January 1. Make your reservation early!  ALL PARTICIPANTS (faculty, students, practitioners) must pay the designated fees for their registration category. Registration rates and payment links will be posted on the UAA website.

Conference Planning

Local Host Committee Members: Chair-Nicole Ruggiano, Jean-Claude Garcia-Zamor, Malik Benjamin (Florida International University), and Richard Grant and J. Miguel Kanai (University of Miami)

Program Committee: Chair, Robert Chaskin (University of Chicago), Yasminah Beebeejaun (University College London), Cecilia Giusti (Texas A&M University), Deirdre Oakley (Georgia State University), and Carlos Arturo Flores Villela (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

September 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 22, 2014

New York Governor Signs Climate Change Resiliency Legislation Into Law

And the New York climate change news keeps rolling in…. Today, in conjunction with Climate Week 2014 in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into state law the Community Risk and Resiliency Act.

In today's press release, the Governor described the Act as "a comprehensive package of actions that help strengthen and reimagine our infrastructure with the next storm in mind." The legislation implements some of the recommendations made by Governor Cuomo’s NYS 2100 Commission, established following Superstorm Sandy. The Governor also proclaimed the week of Sept. 22-28, 2014 "Climate Week," finding among other things that

"New York State will not allow the national paralysis over climate change to stop us from pursuing the necessary path for the future."

You can read the executive proclamation here.  

The Community Risk and Resiliency Act (A06558/ S06617-B)  requires New York State agencies to consider future physical climate risks caused by storm surges, sea level rise or flooding in certain permitting, funding and regulatory decisions. The standards would apply to smart growth assessments; siting of wastewater treatment plants and hazardous waste transportation, storage and disposal facilities; design and construction regulations for petroleum and chemical bulk storage facilities and oil and gas drilling permits; and properties listed in the state’s Open Space Plan, as well as other projects. The Act also requires the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to adopt sea level rise projections by January 1, 2016, and update the projections every five years.  

But, of particular note to land use scholars and practitioners, the Act also:

  • Requires the NY DEC and NY Department of State to prepare model local laws to help communities incorporate measures related to physical climate risks into local laws, and provide guidance on the implementation of the Act, including the use of resiliency measures that utilize natural resources and natural processes to reduce risk.
  • Provides funding, subject to appropriation, to municipalities for local waterfront revitalization planning projects that mitigate future climate risks. Projects may include preparation of new local laws, plans, and studies, and construction projects.
  • Provides funding on a competitive basis, subject to appropriation, to municipalities or not-for-profits toward the cost of coastal rehabilitation projects that consider future climate risks.
  • Allows the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to enter into maintenance and operation agreements for open space land conservation projects in urban areas or metropolitan park projects with municipalities, not-for-profits, and unincorporated associations, if the project demonstrates consideration of climate-change risks.

According to today’s press release,

"Scientists have confirmed a sea level rise of approximately 13 inches since 1900 along New York's coast, and have also measured a significant increase in the proportion of total precipitation that arrives in heavy rainfall events. These climate changes, coupled with land-use planning, zoning and investment that allow and sometimes encourage development in at-risk areas, have resulted in more people, businesses and public infrastructure existing in vulnerable areas."  

The legislation was approved in both houses by wide margins, and had support from a diverse group of stakeholders including: The Nature Conservancy in New York, The New York League of Conservation Voters, The Business Council of New York State, the General Contractors Association, The Reinsurance Association of America, The American Institute of Architects New York State, The Municipal Arts Society of New York, Audubon New York, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Advocates of New York, and The Adirondack Council. 

Click here to read the full text of the Community Risk and Resiliency Act. Click here for the bill history and sponsors

Posted by Professor Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Director of Touro Law's Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute. You can follow the Institute's blog here, and contact Professor Adams-Schoen by email or phone (sadams-schoen@tourolaw.edu, (631)761-7137).  



September 22, 2014 in Climate, Coastal Regulation, Environmentalism, Local Government, New York, Smart Growth, State Government, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0)

Diversion: Saturday in the Woods

On Saturday I participated in a habitat restoration project with the Friends of Somme Preserves at Somme Woods in Northbrook, about 20 miles northwest of Chicago.  We spent the morning clearing buckthorn, which is choking forests by crowding out native oaks.  For the uninitiated, "clearing buckthorn" means lopping branches from then sawing down slender trees, cutting the trunks into 6- to 8-foot lengths, and then (in)expertly hurling all of the resulting pieces onto a giant bonfire.  It is oddly satisfying work.  

Forest buckthorn choking out oak


(Forest preserve with buckthorn)



Prairie at Somme

(A section of preserve after 30 years of prairie restoration.)


Somme Woods contains 269 of the roughly 69,000 acres that comprise the Cook County Forest Preserve, the oldest and largest forest preserve system in the nation.   Alas, I left my phone in the car, which means no pictures of a land use professor turned lumberjack-for-a-day. 


~Celeste Pagano, DePaul University College of Law


September 22, 2014 in Environmentalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYC's plan to reduce GHG emissions in city buildings 80 percent by 2050

You probably read over the weekend that New York City has committed to reduce GHG emissions from city buildings by 80 percent by 2050.  Here is how the City plans to do it, from its website:

This plan employs the strategies outlined above to provide the data, policy framework, incentives, mandates, resources, and programs needed to improve the efficiency of our public and private buildings.

We will make our public buildings models for sustainability.

  • Invest in high value energy efficiency projects in all City-owned 
     The City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) will fund high value efficiency projects identified by City agencies through a competitive selection process. The City will also expand the funding program to reach many more agencies, support new and innovative projects, and provide the incremental costs of efficiency measures in planned capital construction projects. 

  • Expand solar power on City rooftops. Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations offset electric grid use with a clean and renewable energy source, and when combined with battery storage, can also provide backup power during extended blackouts. The City will install 100 MW of solar capacity on more than 300 City-owned rooftops over the next ten years, starting with 24 newly re-roofed schools. The City will also prioritize installations paired with battery storage on the City’s emergency shelters to improve the city’s emergency preparedness by providing an alternative and reliable source of power.

  • Implement deep retrofits in key City facilities. The City will enhance its implementation of comprehensive retrofits in City buildings using new, more streamlined contracts that facilitate deep energy retrofits. The City will also expand implementation of combined heat and power (CHP) projects to generate energy more efficiently and reliably.
  • Improve building operations and maintenance. The City will improve the operations and maintenance (O&M) of City buildings by expanding preventative maintenance programs, which includes hiring more staff and enhancing training for the city’s building operators. The City will also expand its Expenses for Conservation & Efficiency Leadership (ExCEL) Program, a competitive program to award resources for agency-identified O&M measures such as training, tools, and other energy-saving projects.

  • Pilot new clean energy technology in City buildings. The City will engage companies with emerging energy technologies to test their solutions in City-owned facilities. The expanded program will test performance of technologies in more facilities, identify opportunities for larger-scale deployment in public buildings, and provide case studies to increase market adoption of promising technologies. 

  • Improve the efficiency and quality of New York City’s Public Housing. NYCHA will undertake a partnership with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and private lenders to develop a multiphase, unprecedented-scale Energy Performance Contract that will enable NYCHA to finance energy and water efficiency measures through capturing savings that accrue over time.  NYCHA will work with HUD to streamline the EPC process and find ways to share excess savings that accrue from high performance.  NYCHA will also explore the opportunity to leverage financial incentives from Consolidated Edison (Con Ed), National Grid, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) as part of the EPC.

 We will create a thriving market for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

  • Launch an Energy and Water Retrofit Accelerator. The City will create a coordinated outreach and technical assistance program to accelerate energy and water retrofits in privately-owned buildings. The “Retrofit Accelerator” will use data-driven direct marketing to identify and assist buildings to undertake efficiency upgrades and complete heating fuel oil conversions to cleaner fuels. The program will also provide streamlined information about available financing and incentives and connect local job-seekers and firms to increased demand for energy services. 

  • Engage communities in creating energy efficient and resilient neighborhoods. To complement the Retrofit Accelerator, the City will launch a program to engage local communities to promote energy efficiency retrofits, with a focus on helping key neighborhoods that are facing pressures on housing affordability. The program will also complement new financing programs currently under development by the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and will train and employ local residents to provide new opportunities for career advancement.

  • Expand access to information for mid-sized buildings. The Mayor’s Office will work with City Council to expand the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan to include all buildings over 25,000 square feet in floor area, lowering the square footage cut off from 50,000 square feet. This will bring an additional 11,400 properties (16,800 buildings) under the law, providing more building decision-makers with energy use information and creating new opportunities for savings. Expanding the laws will also increase the number of buildings that can be assisted through the platform of the Retrofit Accelerator.

  • Provide financing options for energy efficiency and clean energy. The New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC) has developed innovative financing options for energy efficiency and resiliency measures that are ready to be scaled up, including green mortgages and direct lending products that underwrite energy savings into the loan. The City will also explore modifications to the J-51 housing tax credit reforms and the use of Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) to encourage additional investments in efficiency measures.

  • Improve energy and water efficiency in affordable housing. HPD and HDC will begin requiring a “green” capital needs assessment for all moderate rehabilitation projects that are financed by the City to ensure that opportunities to save energy and water are included within the scope of work. HPD will also develop a grant and loan program to assist owners of small- to mid-sized multifamily properties undertake efficiency improvements in exchange for entering into an affordable housing regulatory agreement. The program will be paired with a robust outreach and technical assistance effort that engages local partners, and will also create opportunities for workforce development and career advancement.
  • Bring solar power to new neighborhoods across New York City. Solar energy complements energy efficiency by providing a cleaner energy source to power building systems and reducing grid dependency. The City’s goal is to increase our solar power capacity by 250 MW over the next ten years on privately-owned properties. Expanding the NYC Solar Partnership provides a platform to coordinate solar programs and streamline processes to sustain the local solar industry’s growth, expand equitable access to solar power, and promote community-shared and group purchasing of solar power.

  • Coordinate with the State to streamline financing and incentive programs. The City will work with NYSERDA and the NY Green Bank to coordinate programs in order to provide a more streamlined customer experience, build the local workforce, and provide appropriate financing options for the affordable multifamily sector. The City will also continue advocating for an equitable allocation of State funding to the downstate region. 

  • Collaborate with local utilities to promote energy efficiency. The City will work with local utilities including Con Edison, National Grid, PSEG Long Island, and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to improve the quality of and access to customer utility data, support the development of renewable sources of energy, manage citywide load growth, and reduce load growth in priority areas. This includes efforts to collaborate within the Northern Brooklyn-Southern Queens load pocket, where energy efficiency retrofits can help manage stresses on utility infrastructure and mitigate rising housing costs brought on by neighborhood growth. 

  • Expand the goals and reach of the NYC Carbon Challenge. Expanding the City’s voluntary carbon reduction program by adding new sectors and participants will allow the City to partner with private sector leaders and identify best practices for deep carbon reductions. The City will also challenge existing participants to increase their carbon reduction goals to lead the way on the citywide pathway towards 80 by 50. 

  • Train the next generation of building operators. The City will help improve the efficiency and lifespan of their equipment and upgrade the skills of building staff by offering low- to no-cost training in energy efficiency best practices. These expanded trainings will reach new constituencies, including building supers and operators who speak English as a second language.
  • Expand NYC CoolRoofs. The City will continue the current mission of the CoolRoofs program to coat one million square feet of rooftops white each year, which reduces building energy use and helps mitigate urban heat. The City will also expand the program’s mission to focus on small- and mid-sized multifamily buildings and will enhance opportunities for green workforce training.

  • Help New Yorkers reduce energy use at home. New Yorkers can take simple steps in their own homes to reduce energy use that can lower their energy bills. GreeNYC is the City’s public education program that engages New Yorkers to take actions to live more sustainably. Through GreeNYC, the City will empower New Yorkers to take simple energy-saving measures in their own lives such as switching to more efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, unplugging chargers, and using appliances more efficiently.

We will develop world-class green building and energy codes. 

  • Raise the standards for our building and energy codes. Working together with the industry leaders and City Council, the City will continue to improve standards for energy performance and sustainable building practices in new construction. Standards will be implemented that raise the bar towards better construction practices, higher efficiency equipment, and improved operations and maintenance to improve the quality of our building stock and lower energy costs for residents. 

  • Enhance Energy Code enforcement. Energy performance standards need strong enforcement and education to ensure existing and new standards are met. Additional resources must be allocated to City agencies that will ensure that these requirements are fulfilled in both the design phase and during construction. 

We will become a global hub for clean energy technology and innovation. 

  • Explore innovative technologies for New York City buildings. Reaching 80 by 50 will depend in part on identifying and scaling up new clean energy technologies and strategies for efficiency. The City will study promising new solutions to explore their adaptability to New York City and develop best practice guidelines for implementation.

  • Support emerging entrepreneurs in clean energy and energy 
    efficiency. The City will expand the city’s clean technology incubator programs to support entrepreneurs and promote local company growth, including “step-out” and prototyping space that allow emerging companies to stay in New York City as they grow.

September 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy Park(ing) Day!

It's the third Friday in September, which means it's Park(ing) Day, that newest of urban rituals in which urbanites take over a parking space for a day and turn it into a funky public realm.

The best montage of this year's festivities seems to be over at Twitter with at #park(ing) day.  See it here.

More on Park(ing) Day's history by the Washington Post here.

Stephen R. Miller

September 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Climate Week in NYC

All things climate change are about to descend on NYC. Revolving around next week’s UN Climate Summit (Sept. 23), more than 100 events are being planned for NYC’s Climate Week. Here are just a few: 

People’s Climate March:
Sunday, Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m.
Location: Meet at Central Park West, between 59th & 86th Streets in Manhattan. The march will end at 11th Ave. between 34th and 38th Streets.

Promoters are heralding this as a "massive, history-making march," with hundreds of coordinating actions throughout the world. 

Interfaith Summit on Climate Change:
Monday, Sept. 22 from 9-11 a.m.
Location: Saint Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York
Morning discussions on ethics, spirituality, climate change and faith communities, divestment and renewable energy. Registration is required, but there is no admission cost.

UN Climate Summit:
Tuesday, Sept. 23
(Invitation only)
By invitation from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,  more than 120 heads of state as well as other world leaders, including EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, have committed to attend the summit, with a goal of galvanizing action to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. 

Rising Seas Summit:
Sept. 24-26
Location: Crowne Plaza Times Square, New York, NY
EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck will be speaking at a lunch plenary session with other environmental leaders on the first day of this inaugural event. Online registration is available until Sept. 22 only.  

Find more NYC Climate Week events at www.climateweeknyc.org and http://milanoschool.org/climateaction. Read more about NYC Climate Week events and other NYC sustainability initiatives at the EPA blog Greening the Apple.

Posted by Professor Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Director of Touro Law's Land Use & Sustainable Development Institute. You can follow the Institute's blog here, and contact Professor Adams-Schoen by email or phone (sadams-schoen@tourolaw.edu, (631)761-7137).

September 19, 2014 in Climate, Environmental Justice, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, New York | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Of DIY Urbanism and Electric Boxes

Last year I wrote an article about DIY Urbanism—modest, often illegal, transformations of urban physical space. A few examples of the phenomenon unfolded before my eyes during the year I recently spent in Jacksonville, Florida. Two of those examples involved artwork on utility boxes.

Roux Art box

Among my friends in Jacksonville were Kate and Kenny Rouh of RouxArt, artists whose stated mission is to “tile the town” with community-based mosaics.  One day thay casually mentioned their plans to spend that weekend installing a mosaic on a utility box in Hemming Plaza, a downtown public space fronted by City Hall, a Federal Building, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. Unfortunately, Hemming Plaza has received a lot of negative attention in recent years, some due to physical neglect and some in response to the use of the space by many homeless people. The artists’ goal was simply to respond to the negativity with action instead of handwringing by adding a positive feature to the Plaza. They later told me of their very enjoyable weekend interacting with plaza users who observed them working on the project. The final result is pictured at left. (To our amusement, local news outlets covering the sudden appearance of the mosaic credited it to an “unknown artist,” despite the fact that the RouxArt name is rather clear on one side of the pillar. RouxArt has worked with the City before, has appeared numerous times in local media, and is easily searchable online.) With its community-focused aesthetic and uniformly positive reception, RouxArt’s small artwork in Hemming Plaza is an example of DIY urbanism at its best.

The second, more complex story played out several major themes from my article: the heightened probability of enforcement when an intervention is controversial, the frequent shift from illegality to legality, and the need for simple process to allow DIY interventions to happen. My engagement—this time simply as a community member and spectator—started one day on my afternoon commute. While exiting a bridge, I noticed a bright figure in the style of a Keith Haring painting onto a free-standing electric box. According to local media reports, the artist called himself KHG, for “Keith Haring’s Ghost,” and that the small structure he had painted was actually a signal box, a previously-drab feature of the urban landscape housing an electrical mechanism that controlled the traffic light.

KHG love2
Over the next couple of weeks, I saw more, similar paintings, joyous additions to the cityscape on signal boxes throughout my Riverside neighborhood. In my article, I had noted that DIY urbanists who create interventions that enhance cityscapes rarely face legal sanction. Sadly, this did not apply to KHG: the City of Jacksonville arrested him in March, revealing his true identity as artist Chip Southworth and charging him with a felony for “damaging” the utility boxes.  The City attempted to justify its heavy-handed response in part with a theory that the paint colors might cause the signal boxes to overheat and malfunction.  However, another reason might be the fact that some of the works were overtly political, commenting on race relations, gun violence, and discrimination based on sexual orientation—issues that remain highly contentious in Jacksonville.  For example, an early work in the series portrayed an angel in a hoodie, standing in for slain teenager Trayvon Martin. (In contrast, RouxArt’s contribution to Hemming Plaza had been chiefly decorative.)  Southworth’s charge was later lowered to a misdemeanor; he pled no contest, performed community service, and agreed to pay fines and court costs totaling more than $1,000. 

KHG posing 2 KHG Southworth

In my article also noted that interventions with illegal origins sometimes gain legitimacy and, eventually, legality. That appears to be happening in Jacksonville, where the debate over KHG’s arrest has highlighted the need to legalize some street art, including a possible program for painting signal boxes.  Legalization of street art seems particularly appropriate given Jacksonville’s recent efforts to brand itself as a creative hub, with the creation of the One Spark Festival and a downtown arts district  to spur economic activity “through artistic energy, cultural vibrancy and exciting streetscapes.” As now-president of the Cultural Council Tony Allegretti noted in an interview with the Folio Weekly  before KHG's arrest, the only thing lacking was a simple process for legal street art projects: 

"I don't know why, necessarily, it's controversial...I was surprised to hear there was any kind of negativity around [KHG's works]. I think they add to the beautification of our neighborhoods. … The only thing left to discuss is, what's the process next time? In an ideal situation, we're one meeting away. How can we take something that lacks a process and create a process?"

As of this writing, the Cultural Council has submitted proposed legislation to achieve just that. Although KHG's vibrant signal boxes have all been painted over, his DIY street art may yet leave a more enduring mark on the city.


~Celeste Pagano, DePaul University College of Law

September 17, 2014 in Local Government, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Medical Marijuana: Illinois Land Use Edition

    As the implementation phase of last year’s Illinois medical marijuana statute gets underway, the real action now is happening at zoning boards and city councils around the state. Famously the nation’s strictest medical cannabis law of the twenty-four enacted to date, Illinois’ statute allows for the licensing of up to 22 marijuana cultivation sites and up to 60 dispensaries, distributed among specified geographic regions throughout the state through a competitive licensing process. Applications for cannabis entrepreneurs became available on August 14 and are due next week.

    Among the application requirements are a showing that the proposed cultivation facility or dispensary complies with all local building and zoning codes. In addition, an applicant can earn bonus points for putting in place a Community Benefits Plan and for a showing of local support for the proposed location.  While municipalities cannot ban cannabis facilities outright, they may limit them to specific districts or impose reasonable conditions on their permits. The State’s own prohibition on dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school or nursery renders it very unlikely that tony chiefly-residential suburbs will ever see cannabis facilities in their towns; nevertheless, these towns (reluctantly) amended their zoning codes to allow for the possibility.  Other jurisdictions allow cultivation facilities as of right in agricultural areas but subject dispensaries to permit conditions—measures typically aimed at addressing the additional security concerns of businesses potentially housing large quantities of drugs and cash. In Chicago, despite some initial efforts on the part of at least one alderman to confine dispensaries to manufacturing districts, dispensaries are now allowed in almost any business, commercial, mixed use, or downtown service district.

    Now that the fierce competition for licenses is genuinely underway, municipalities are busy approving those special use permits. Local hostility towards the facilities appears to be reversing as authorities consider the economic benefits that medical cannabis might bring to their cities and towns. As explained by Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante and reported in the Joliet Herald News, “It’s kind of like gambling. If it's going to happen, I want it in Joliet so we get the sales tax and jobs." Some savvy jurisdictions are negotiating with cannabis entrepreneurs to offer a letter of support in exchange for benefits to the city. The far-northern Illinois city of McHenry has negotiated a Contribution Agreement with one grower, under which the mayor will write a letter of support of the grower’s license application in exchange for payments to the city of at least $20,000 per year, should that grower win the coveted state cultivator’s license.  Not to be outdone, last night the City Council of Batavia unanimously authorized that town’s mayor to send a letter of support in favor of another applicant for a proposed cultivation facility there. McHenry and Batavia are both located in the same 5-county district in Northern Illinois, which under the legislation will house only one such facility. Similar rivalries are taking place all over the state, including in counties that have hedged their bets by amending zoning in such a way as two approve two facilities, even though no more than one of those will win the coveted license. (Among those, Will County, home of the City of Joliet, whose optimistic mayor is quoted above.)

    Wherever Illinois' 60 medical marijuana dispensaries and 22 cultivation facilities are eventually located, it looks like patients will not be the only ones to benefit. Medical cannabis will be a boon to business in Illinois—not to mention a boon to government. The non-refundable state application fee for a cultivation facility license is $25,000; operating fees for successful licensees will total in the hundreds of thousands annually. And due to a little local clout in the decision-making process, counties and municipalities may end up benefitting as well.

~Celeste Pagano, DePaul University College of Law

September 16, 2014 in Agriculture, Chicago, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Food law symposium notice and call for articles/speakers

Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum has issued a call for articles and presenters for a symposium on the national food system, which will be at Duke Law school on Friday, January 23, 2015. The working title is  "Carrots and Sticks: Moving the U.S. National Food System Toward a Sustainable Future." According to the announcement I received today, the students are in the final stages of soliciting articles and speakers, and are particularly interested in contributions on food safety and labeling.
If you're interested in contributing an article or participating in some way, you can contact Editor-in-Chief Francesca Bochner at francesca.finch.bochner@lawnet.duke.edu, or Managing Editor Gordon Sommers at Gordon.sommers@lawnet.duke.edu.   
According to Michelle Nowlin, Supervising Attorney and Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, Durham boasts pleasant January weather, an exceptional year-round Farmers' Market, many fine farm-to-table restaurants, has received many awards for its dedication to the modern food movement, and supports several independent food aggregators who are working to rebuild the regional food system. Duke also has an excellent campus farm that encourages visitors from other academic institutions. For more information on Durham, visit:  http://www.durham-nc.com/dining/www.carolinafarmstewards.orghttp://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/www.firsthandfoods.com,  www.easterncarolinaorganics.comhttp://www.cccc.edu/curriculum/majors/sustainableagriculture/

September 13, 2014 in Agriculture, Conferences, Food | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The common sense of self-published legal e-casebooks, or, Why on earth would anyone publish a casebook with a major legal publisher these days?

The cost of law school casebooks is truly staggering; they are almost twice what they were when I finished law school about a decade ago.  Further, very few law professors are getting rich off the relatively insignificant royalties.  Add to this the fact that the major publishers seem intent on a business model that will limit students' ability to resell casebooks in the used books market (witness the Durkminier casebook debacle), and it is a wonder that more law professors are not writing casebooks as self-published e-books.

Law casebooks are peculiarly amenable to self-publishing, it seems to me.  First, in most cases, much of the material in a casebook--cases, statutes, regulations--is in the public domain.  Second, there is very little need for complicated graphic design:  it's essentially one long Word file.  Third, students that purchase an e-casebook can print out each day's portion of the casebook rather than carrying around a thousand-page tome and thereby save on chiropractor visits.  Fourth, professors can readily update the casebook as new cases come along rather than having to provide cumbersome supplements.

Let me give you an example.  A friend of mine, Jeffrey Litwak, an attorney with the Columbia River Gorge Commission and long-time adjunct at Lewis & Clark, recently self-published an e-casebook with Semaphore Press called Interstate Compact Law: Cases and Materials v. 2.0.  The casebook looks great and is completely indistinguishable in format from one of the major publishers.  The price:  $30.  This is a great deal professor and student.  First, students receive a 330-page casebook on interstate compact law, a fascinating subject with an admittedly small market that likely would never warrant a casebook format otherwise.  Second, the price is eminently reasonable for students.  Third, the royalties scheme offered by Semaphore Press rivals any offer for such a casebook by a traditional publisher.  For those casebooks that have a large reach, I imagine the professors would likely find themselves receiving greater royalties.

So why have legal scholars not jumped on the e-casebook bandwagon?  Is it simply the prestige of being able to say that one has been published by a major casebook publisher?  Presumably there is something to that; however, significantly reducing student debt and increasing professorial royalties also seem to warrant some attention, both of which I imagine would be simultaneously assisted by a wholesale turn to self-published legal e-casebooks.  All the tide needs, I think, is one or two prominent professors to make the switch, and let the rest of us mere mortals know it is okay to march, in lock-step, into Law v. 2.0.

Check out the unusual terms of Semaphore Press, for students and professors, here.

Stephen R. Miller

September 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Job Announcement: Environmental Dispute Resolution Prorgram at Utah

University of Utah is hiring an Associate Director for its Environmental Dispute Resolution Program

The Environmental Dispute Resolution Program (EDRP) Associate Director will be responsible for   working with the EDRP Director to support existing and develop new program activities. The EDR Program was established in 2012 as part of the Wallace Stegner Center at the University of  Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.

EDRP promotes collaboration, mediation, and other dispute resolution processes as a means to address contemporary environmental and natural resource (ENR)  conflicts, with particular  focus  on Utah and the Mountain West. The  program encompasses four general categories of activity: (1)  academic instruction; (2) public education; (3) research and analysis;  and (4) process design, facilitation and  mediation services. More information about the EDR Program’s  mission and activities is available at  the program’s website.

The Associate Director position is new to the EDR Program. The position  has secure funding for  one year; the position’s continuation  is contingent  on continued or additional funding. The Associate  Director will have the following minimum responsibilities, with additional opportunities  possible according to the applicant’s interests and  background:

  • Capacity Building: Develop curriculum  and provide instructional support for workshops and other training programs. This can also include guest-­‐speaking in law school and other graduate-­‐ level courses across campus.
  • Public Education: Develop content for public education materials, including coordinating the  recently launched EDR Blog. Develop new approaches for educating key constituencies  about the benefits of collaboration and mediation as  ways for resolving ENR conflicts. Work with the Director to forge relationships with the public,  government and other stakeholders  to facilitate alternative dispute resolution solutions on these issues.
  •  Third Party Neutral Services: Provide process design, mediation, facilitation, conflict  coaching, and/or other third party neutral services on request from ENR stakeholders.This includes work on projects EDRP is already involved in, and developing new projects that demonstrate best practices, pilot new approaches and/or provide skills development  opportunities for clinical law students.
  • Convening and Situation  Assessments: Work with the Director to identify opportunities to  conduct situation assessments or convene dialogues to proactively address issues of local,
    regional, and national importance by bringing together stakeholders of differing ideologies to identify common ground.
  • Program development: Provide support to the Director in program development activities, such as newsletters, conference presentations, fundraising, donor relations, and grant writing.
  • Research: Research and writing, to the extent the applicant is interested and has time available. Development of a case study library highlighting  best practices and lessons learned would be very  useful to the program.

Posting Title:  Assoc Director, Administration
Posting Number: PRN06748B
Department:  00096 - College of Law – Dean


September 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Commissioner's Corner: High school students at the Planning Commission

[This series of blog posts, designated Commissioner's Corner, is based upon my reflections as a commissioner on the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission.]

It is a new school year, and the evidence is everywhere, even at the Planning Commission.  This week, I was surprised to learn that Boise has a great tradition of choosing a "student commissioner" to sit with the Commission at each of its hearings during the year.  The student commissioner can participate in hearings as would an appointed commissioner--asking questions, and so forth--but cannot make motions or otherwise vote on projects.  I think this is a fabulous way to get students involved in the planning process at an early age.  When I came home, I mentioned this student commissioner to our babysitter.  "Oh!," she exclaimed, "I'm the student delegate to the Parks & Rec Development Impact Fee Advisory Committee," which determines how to use park impact fee dollars.  I was surprised again, and proud of Boise.  The city's integration of high school students into the planning process shows a long-term effort to build understanding of the planning process that you don't see in most jurisdictions, even many deemed "progressive."  It seems a worthy model for other local governments to consider.

Stephen R. Miller


September 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 8, 2014

October 1: Call for Papers: “Rural as a Dimension of Environmental Injustice”

Call for Papers: “Rural as a Dimension of Environmental Injustice”

Paper Abstracts Due: October 1st

Papers Invited for Submission Due: February 1st

Submission: Email abstracts (up to 350-words) to Loka Ashwood and Kate MacTavish.

Changing community and production dynamics make rural places a state-sanctioned site for some of the most hazardous and toxic industries of our time. From its production treadmill, industrial agriculture has cast onto rural areas a plethora of negative externalities: mounting levels of air and water pollution, farm consolidation, and depopulation. A range of extractive and other risky industries justify the siting of facilities in rural areas because of easy access to ample natural resources, sparse populations that reduce exposure risk, and the possibility of economic revitalization. State and federal statutes in the U.S. context (e.g., Right To Farm laws, the Federal Code of Regulations for Nuclear Operations) often permit these industries to target rural America based on past practice and low population levels. Cities serve as powerful hubs for the global economy, pulling away resources from less prominent urban and rural areas. The growing periphery within core countries, as well as continued resource extraction of rural places abroad, calls for increased attention to the rural facets of injustice in developed and developing countries. We invite paper submissions that explore facets of the rural that help explain rural places’ vulnerability to environmental injustices from interdisciplinary perspectives, including (but not limited to) sociology, geography, law, anthropology, public health, and the environmental sciences. We are especially keen to receive papers from scholars working broadly on issues of environmental justice in order to foster conversation between those scholars and scholars whose focus on the rural more generally. Abstracts of interest will be reviewed and then select papers will be invited for full paper submission on February 1, 2015. Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Rural Studies.

September 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 23: UCI Law: Harmonizing Marijuana Legalization with Environmental, Land Use, and Other Regulations



The Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (CLEANR) and Brown Rudnick LLP present

Harmonizing Marijuana Legalization with Environmental, Land Use, and Other Regulations

Annual Fall Symposium on Emerging Issues in Environmental Law Practice


Thursday, October 23, 2014, 8:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

EDU 1111, UC Irvine School of Law (map)

CLE credit is available for participants (8.0 credits)

Despite stringent regulation at the federal level, an increasing number of U.S. states have adopted laws legalizing the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Marijuana production activities are being openly conducted without prosecution, but a suite of land use and environmental laws may nonetheless regulate such conduct, including environmental impacts of farming, consumer product safety, pesticide use, the siting and location of farms and dispensaries, and use of public lands.
Attorneys also face uncertainty as to their ability to advise clients in the marijuana industry about these activities. This symposium explores these many issues, guided by leading practitioners and policymakers deeply involved at the interface of federal and state marijuana use and control.
Alejandro E. Camacho, Professor of Law, Director, Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources at UC Irvine School of Law, and Geoffrey K. Willis, Partner, Brown Rudnick LLP, will serve as moderators.

Keynote Speakers

William Lockyer William Lockyer California State Treasurer Dana Rohrabacher Dana Rohrabacher U.S. Congressman (R-CA) Tentative

Featured Speakers

Hilary V. Bricken The Canna Law Group City Attorney Tom Carr City of Boulder, Colorado
Stephen Cook Brown Rudnick LLP Andrew DeAngelo Harborside Health Center
Sean Donahoe National Cannabis Industry Association Hon. James P. Gray Orange County Superior Court (Ret.)
Lt. Patrick Hanson Fresno County, California Allison Margolin Margolin & Lawrence
Joel Miliband Brown Rudnick LLP Amy Poinsett MJ Freeway Business Solutions
Jeffrey Raber The Werc Shop Barbra M. Roach (Tentative) Drug Enforcement Administration
Deborah Rosenthal Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP Ann Southworth UC Irvine School of Law
Jacob Sullum Reason Sherry Tune U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Sheriff John Urquhart King County,Washington  

Please register online >

General registration fee is $49
Registration is free for UCI faculty, staff and students if UCI email address is used for registration


Brown Rudnick logo


September 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)