Monday, September 8, 2014

Valuations Slow Housing Recovery

My last post alluded to the well-documented history of institutional factors, including the lack of access to credit, that contributed to Chicago’s status as one of the top five most segregated cities in the United States today.  A competing narrative of 20th century Chicago supposes segregation and neighborhood decline to be driven by individual preference, chiefly racial animus.  That story has its contemporary analogue as well.  Housing recovery in Chicago’s priciest neighborhoods has been robust, with prices exceeding pre-crash levels; not so in middle- and lower-income areas.  The gap could be explained in terms of individual choice: the difficulty in finding buyers for vacant foreclosed homes, then, would be “because few people [want] to move to those areas.”

But, as always, the story is more complex.   A story that ran on Chicago’s public radio station suggests that a lack of access to financing again poses a barrier.  Part of the problem is valuations, which are heavily impacted by the presence of vacant and foreclosed homes in an area.  WBEZ profiled a middle-class family who wanted financing to purchase a $182,000 two-flat* in the west Chicago neighborhood of Lawndale but were denied the loan when the property's appraisal came back at only $140,000.  The low appraisal of the occupied, income-producing building was due in part to the presence of foreclosed and vacant properties in the surrounding area.  With solid credit, the couple in the story ended up purchasing a house in a more stable neighborhood for $285,000, more than $100,000 more than they would have paid for the first property.

As the buyer stated:

My credit was good, [my husband's] credit was good. We had a lot in our savings. All it was was the value of the house. That’s all it boiled down to.  Which is baffling, very, very frustrating,” she said.


“Our friends who were looking in the area, they too were like middle class people who wanted to move back into Lawndale and to try to help build the community and they were just essentially being shut out,” she said.

Essentially, banks whose risky loans led to high rates of foreclosure filings and vacancies, which have in turn led to increased crime and blight in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, are now unable to lend money to buyers who wish to be part of the recovery of those neighborhoods precisely because of other vacancies.  As a result, per the WBEZ story, about 80% of the property purchases in Lawndale last year were cash transactions, shutting out some would-be buyers.  The fallout of the subprime mortgage crisis continues to hinder neighborhood recovery in complex ways.

~Celeste Pagano, DePaul University College of Law

*"Two flat" is the local lingo for a two-story building with one apartment upstairs and one down.  Elsewhere we might call this a "duplex," but Chicagoans reserve "duplex" to describe a building where each unit occupies two stories--or what you might know as a "townhouse."  Don't you love regionalisms?

September 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Does New Plan to Protect Long Island Sound Sufficiently Prioritize Land Use?

Today, 20 years after approval of the original Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, the Long Island Sound Study released a draft updated CCMP. The Long Island Sound Study, co-sponsored by the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York, is a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies, universities, businesses, and environmental and community groups. According to an EPA press release, the draft Plan emphasizes the principles of sustainability, climate change resiliency, environmental justice and ecosystem-based management.

Recognizing the significance of land use to wetland and watershed protection, the draft Plan highlights the need for

  • Integration of transportation planning, conservation of energy and water, resiliency to climate change, and pollution control policies;
  • Smart growth and low impact development to minimize the environmental impacts of new and existing development;
  • Meeting numerous ecosystem-level targets such as increasing riparian buffers and open spaces; and,
  • Fully involving and responding to the needs of underserved communities.

The draft Plan describes the benefits of these investments in economic terms, explaining that they will provide substantial returns for the regional economy. 

"The financial value of goods and services provided to the region's economy by Long Island Sound Basin's natural systems ranges between $17 billion and $36.6 billion annually. Treated as a capital asset, the value of these natural systems, calculated using a standard 4% discount rate with a lifespan of 100 years, is $690 billion to $1.3 trillion (Kocian, 2014). Unlike built systems that depreciate, however, natural assets often accumulate value over time, particularly if they are protected and restored. In addition, an estimated 191,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region result from that the healthy function of these natural systems, and the associated stewardship work."

With respect to implementation and land use, the draft Plan identifies as "Implementation Actions"

  • Providing technical guidance for incorporating Low Impact Development/Green Infrastructure into development and redevelopment projects and through zoning and planning changes;
  • Reducing the amount of impervious cover that discharges directly into waterbodies;
  • Remediating brownfields;
  • Tracking implementation and effectiveness of approved watershed plans by local municipalities;
  • Promoting establishment and protection of riparian corridors and wetland buffers at the municipal level through development of local ordinances and promoting permanent land protection; and,
  • Increasing land protection efforts by municipalities and land protection organizations that permanently protect wetlands and riparian areas and buffers.

Notably, however, these Implementation Actions are not identified as "Priority Implementation Actions." Of course, prioritizing of implementation actions is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. Given that EPA and the LISS are currently accepting comments on the draft updated Plan, those of us concerned with NE region watershed management should take a close look at the draft Plan, with particular attention to the Implementation Actions and their designation -- or lack thereof -- as "Priority." A copy of the draft Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan is available at the Long Island Sound Study website at

Public meetings on the draft plan will be held

  • September 16, 1:00 to 3:00pm, in Westbury, NY at the Yes Community Center
  • September 16, 6:00 to 8:00pm, in the Bronx, NY at Rocking The Boat
  • September 17, 2:30 to 4:30pm, in New Haven, CT at Southern Connecticut State University

Public comments on the plan will be accepted via email and post until Saturday, November 8, 2014. Emailed comments should be sent to Mailed comments should be sent to:

EPA Long Island Sound Office

Stamford Government Center

888 Washington Blvd.

Stamford, CT 06904-2152

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 (, (631)761-7137).

September 8, 2014 in Beaches, Climate, Coastal Regulation, Environmental Justice, New York, Smart Growth, Sustainability, Water, Wetlands | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New Report on Climate Adaptation from the Georgetown Climate Center

The Georgetown Climate Center has just released a valuable report with 100 recommendations to improve federal programs in response to climate change. Among other things, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, recognizes and emphasizes the important role of state and local governments in climate change adaptation. For me, the key point is that federal funding and federal permitting should require upfront consideration and adjustment for potential climate change impacts. This looks to be a valuable report and hopefully many agency officials will take the time to read it.


September 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Conference Announcement: Planning, Law and Property Rights Conference

Submissions for PLPR's 2015 meeting are now open. Looks like a great theme and an excellent location. Anyone interested in sponsoring a promising young law professor from Buffalo?

Planning, Law and Property Rights Conference 2015
25-27 February 2015, Volos, Greece


The International Academic Association on Planning, Law, and Property Rights (PLPR) attracts academics in spatial planning, land-use and property law, real estate or related disciplines from all parts of the world (learn more about PLPR on and explores urban issues, legislative frameworks, and land ownership.

Planning matters. Law matters. Property matters.

Three simple messages inspiring the growing PLPR community to examine the difficult relationship between public and private interests in the use of land.

The Academic Association's functions aim at:

  • Serving as an academic peer group for research in the field. To promote research with a cross-national comparative perspective so as to enable exchange of knowledge that is so lacking in the current state of research.
  • Exchanging approaches and methods in the teaching of planning law to planning students.
  • Supporting young academics researching in the fields of planning, law, and property rights.


The conference will be held at the Department of Planning and Regional Development (DPRD) of University of Thessaly located in Volos (Greece) on 25-27 February 2015.

Call for abstracts/papers

Abstract submission starts on 1st September 2014 and ends on 13 October 2014.

PLPR 2015 Conference welcomes any topic based on theoretical analysis, research and/or practice related to planning and law, property rights on land, real estate studies, or planning and regulatory instruments. We welcome contributions from scholars and practitioners in planning, law, real estate and related economic issues, and we especially encourage graduate students working on topics within this realm to submit their abstracts. Indicative topics of the invited contributions can be the following:

  • Urban planning and development, urban regeneration
  • Environmental planning & sustainable development
  • Housing and building regulations
  • Governance, public participation and planning law
  • Human rights and social justice
  • Climate change and planning law
  • Public/private sector and planning law
  • Property rights and the market
  • Cultural heritage protection

We warmly encourage initiatives for special sessions. Please check out the proposed special sessions so far at  

Professor Richard K. Norton (University of Michigan) will be in charge of a double-blind peer review for each submitted abstract. Once all abstracts have been reviewed, authors of accepted abstracts will be notified. 


Authors must use the template provided by the conference. Abstracts should not exceed 400 words. Please also see instructions for the submission procedure at

Important deadlines

  • 13/10/2014: Abstract submission  
  • 15/12/2014: Early registration

More information

Additional information on the conference are available at the conference website:


September 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Big Box" Costco agrees to cut greenhouse gas refrigerant emissions nationwide

EPA describes this week's settlement between the United States and Costco as indicative of a more aggressive policy by the federal government to use the Clean Air Act to prosecute the largest GHG emitters, including grocery stores -- a continuing shift in federal priorities that will be of interest to state and local government law practitioners and scholars, as well as those of us who focus on the intersection of local land use law and climate change.

In a settlement announced on Wednesday by the DOJ and EPA, Costco agreed to cut its emissions of GHGs from refrigeration equipment at more than half of its stores nationwide. Costco will also pay $335,000 in penalties for CAA violations and improve refrigerant management at 274 stores at an estimated cost of $2 million over the next three years.

Sam Hirsch, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, responded to the settlement, saying

"Industry needs to lead the way in abandoning harmful chemicals in favor of using and developing greener, environmentally friendly alternatives to protect our health and our climate."

EPA and DOJ announced that the measures required by the settlement are expected to reduce Costco’s GHG emissions by the equivalent of approximately 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The GHG at issue in the settlement is actually hydrochlorofluorocarbon (from leaks of the refrigerant R-22), which is a more potent GHG than carbon dioxide.

Some may question whether the settlement requires enough of Costco, the nation's second largest retailer, given annual revenues of over $100 billion (in 2013, as reported by EPA).  

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

Read the proposed settlement and related documents here.

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 (, (631)761-7137).

September 6, 2014 in Climate, Environmental Law, Federal Government, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 5, 2014

A big thank you to John Travis Marshall and Ryan Rowberry

On behalf of all the editors here, I wanted to thank John Travis Marshall and Ryan Rowberry for their great blogging in August.  Both provided great new perspectives, a variety of voices, and are welcome back at the blog any time.

Stephen R. Miller

September 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement revised to add resiliency focus

In 2005, the U.S. Conference of Mayors launched the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, a landmark pledge by mayors from all across the country to take local action to reduce carbon emissions from city operation and by the community at large, consistent with the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. More than 1060 mayors signed the Agreement.  

In June, 2014, that Agreement was updated primarily to add a section seeking a new focus on urban resiliency.  A copy of the new Agreement is here.  A copy of the press release is here.  

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is now asking mayors across the country to sign on to the new Agreement.  Perhaps now is the time to check and see if your local mayor has done so and, perhaps, offer a nudge to implementation, as well.

Stephen R. Miller

September 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Free AESS Webinar on Sustainable Development Goals on Monday the 8th

The Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) is offering a free webinar next Monday. Looks like a good way to spend your lunch hour.

UN Sustainable Development Goals Setting Agenda for Sustainability in the U.S. and Globally

September 8, 2014 

12:00pm to 2:00pm EST
(presentation from 12:00-12:45 followed by a Q&A and discussion period)

About the Webinar

The webinar presentation and moderated discussion will introduce and discuss the Sustainable Development Goals which were released in the July 19th, 2014 consensus Outcome Document negotiated by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Outcome Document will be considered by the UN General Assembly in the fall 2014, and has the potential to set national and international agendas for sustainability. The webinar and discussion will explore goals for agriculture, biodiversity, climate, energy, water, and sustainable consumption and production, and how these might be implemented in the US, North America and Europe. It will also focus on how the SDGs may affect the global development agenda, and drive public and private finance and partnerships in developed and developing countries.

September 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Property Law Journal: JLPS

The Association for Law, Property, and Society (ALPS) just published the first issue of its new journal. The Journal for Law, Property, and Society is an open source peer edited journal is starting with a bang with a piece by Joe Singer. We here at Land Use Profs are all big fans of the ALPS conference and are excited to see what this new journal has in store.

September 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Novel Strategy For Holding Banks Accountable for Blight

Moving to the Chicago area after reading about its land use history from afar for decades is like watching the first half of a particularly engrossing movie and then suddenly finding myself thrust into the world on the screen, immersed in the place and surrounded by its characters going about their lives.  For that reason, readers of this blog can look forward to several posts inspired by Chicago and its environs from me this month.  

The starkest example of continuity between past and present is in the role of banks in Chicago’s housing segregation and current neighborhood revitalization efforts.   There’s a lot to say about this, so my inaugural post is a two-parter.

Racial Dot Map, ChicagoChicago’s history of housing segregation has always been inextricably linked to institutional factors, including the lack of viable financing options for black homeowners.  I remember first learning about the role of the federal government and the banks in perpetuating neighborhood segregation and decline way back in law school, from Kenneth Jackson’s Crabgrass Frontier and Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton’s American Apartheid.  More recently, Ta-Nehesi Coats, in his Atlantic article "The Case For Reparations," vividly details the process by which a lack of bank financing led black families to transact with unscrupulous contract sellers, resulting in wealth for the contract financiers and poverty and decline for the families and neighborhoods affected.  (Despite the controversy engendered by the article's title and thesis, those sections are going to become required reading for my next Property class.  Nothing I've read better illustrates the trap of contract loans.)  [Image Credit: 2010 Racial Dot Map, Chicago detail.  Copyright, 2013, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, (Dustin A. Cable, creator)].

As it turns out, the overwhelming influence of banks in shaping neighborhoods continues today.  For example, as in many areas of the country, many neighborhoods in Chicago are struggling to deal with the blight caused by vacant houses, including so-called “zombie houses” -- vacant houses for which banks have filed but not completed the foreclosure process, which neither the absent owners nor the banks maintain, making them magnets for crime.  The Chicago Reporter's Angela Caputo wrote an excellent story on this problem earlier this year, focusing on the heroic efforts of neighborhood groups in reclaiming one such house in a predominantly black and Latino stretch of Chicago’s Southwest side.

Zombie Houses ChicagoOf course, Chicago is far from alone in struggling with this persistent effect of the foreclosure crisis.  States and municipalities nationwide have responded in various ways, including by enacting legislation requiring banks to register vacant properties and imposing stricter penalties for a failure to maintain those properties (though they may find it difficult to actually collect the fines.)  Banks object to laws imposing liability on them for properties they do not own, arguing that until foreclosure is completed, maintenance of the property is the responsibility of the borrower.  But properties can remain in “zombie” status for years, including long after the original homeowner has left.  As the Chicago Reporter graphic at left shows, in Chicago alone, over 3,000 foreclosure fillings initiated in 2008-2011 were yet to be closed by the end of 2013.

Other jurisdictions have sued banks demanding they maintain blighted buildings, or have boarded up the buildings at taxpayer expense then sued the banks to recoup the costs. In Chicago, according to Caputo,  "Chicago taxpayers have spent $36 million boarding up and knocking down blighted buildings during the past three years. Banks have kicked in very little to clean up the foreclosure mess. The city has recouped only $453,000 toward the cost over that time."

Not surprisingly, the resulting disrepair and neglect affect some neighborhoods more than others.  From Caputo's article:  “We found that when banks had properties in good areas, they kept them nice, secure and neat,” says Deputy Corporation Counsel Judy Frydland. “In, let’s say, not-so-nice areas, that wasn’t the case.”

Chicago neighborhood groups that are fighting to rid their areas of dangerous vacant properties want the City to pressure the banks in a different way: by denying the banks access to the billions of dollars in business that flow through the City government every year.

 Caputo again:

Roughly half of the vacant properties are linked to six banks—Bank of New York, US Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank….Each of these banks does business with City Hall. Since the housing market collapsed in 2008, they have managed $1.4 billion worth of taxpayer money as depositories or provided credit or debt services, according to city payment records.
Some suggest that City Hall should treat banks like it does other scofflaws and cut off the flow of public business when they are in violation of vacant property maintenance laws.

Not surprisingly, the community group that approached City Hall with this novel and radical proposal was told that the idea was a non-starter.  A state or municipality's refusal to transact with banks as long as they are in violation of the law would certainly get the banks' attention; presumably, this would come at a cost that municipal leaders are unwilling to consider.

That led me to wonder: have any other jurisdictions attempted this technique, threatening to stem the flow of governmental business to banks that own or have filed foreclosure on dangerous vacant homes while failing to adequately address neighborhood blight that their actions have caused?  If you know of any, I’d love to hear about it.

Meanwhile, individuals and neighborhood groups labor mightily to reclaim and restore empty homes.  Tomorrow I’ll talk about some of the barriers faced by those who do wish to purchase and fix up properties in distressed neighborhoods.  Spoiler alert: the banks don’t come off very well in tomorrow’s post either.

H/T to Christine Wachter for leading me to this story, and thanks to the Chicago Reporter for permission to print the accompanying graphic.

~Celeste Pagano

September 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Do you know a land use prof who has been ice bucket challenged? Send us the video!

Land use profs are not immune from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge; well, at least this one isn't.  See video below.  Any other land use profs out there who recently had ice water poured over them?  We want the video!

ALS #icebucketchallenge Boise Faculty | University of Idaho College of Law from U-Idaho College of Law on Vimeo.

Stephen R. Miller

September 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Papers: Rethinking the Role of Law in Urban Planning, Policy & Development

I just received this interesting call for papers that looks to be right up our alley. This journal (peer reviewed and published by MIT) is not one that I regularly read, but glancing at their past issues reveals some interesting projects and questions.

Rethinking the Role of Law in Urban Planning, Policy and Development
Projections (Vol. 12)
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Due date for abstracts: 30th of October 2014

It is well recognized that Law has played an important role in institutionalizing the field of Planning, as well as in shaping the processes of urban development. The engagement of planning academia with legal scholarship has, however, largely been limited to issues of zoning, development controls, and other aspects of land use, though planners’ interventions are no longer confined to these domains. Planners’ understanding of law has artificially restricted itself to linear and single-scale approaches, instead of considering urban planning in a global legal frame. Moreover, planners have not fully engaged with established traditions of legal analysis such as socio-legal studies, legal realism, critical race and feminist legal theory, and a variety of non-European critiques. Instead, planners’ engagements with Law have typically followed the liberal model which conflates legal doctrine with the complex relationship between Law and social processes. Liberal legalism has been, for example, particularly ill-suited to understand the rapid expansion of the informal sector in urban settings, both in developed and in developing societies.

The new issue of Projections, the journal of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will attempt to channelize attention to the role of Law in the planning academy. By bringing new perspectives and methods of legal analysis into urban planning scholarship, it will seek to bring Planning and Law in closer conversation with each other, and encourage critical traditions in each to dialogue with each other. Scholars and practitioners of Law, Planning, Geography and other social sciences are invited to submit abstracts of articles proposed for publication in this volume of Projections. The editors of this volume welcome articles containing empirical research as well as essays that delve into theoretical questions on the role of Law in urban planning. The editors are also particularly interested in insights from regions of the world that have been otherwise under-represented in planning scholarship, and modes of legal analysis that contest the Euro-centrism inherent in both Law and Planning.

The scope of this volume includes, but is not limited to, heterodox legal analysis on topics related to processes of urbanization such as:

a) tenure security in informal settlements;
b) governance of land and displacement;
c) decentralization and local governments;
d) urban labor market institutions;
e) urban poverty alleviation programs;
f) special economic zones and international trade;
g) housing mortgage market and other financial institutions;
h) infrastructure (water, electricity, transportation and waste management);
i) human rights and urban planning including the right to the city;
j) mega-events and international tourism; and
k) crime, violent conflict and urban policing.

Authors interested in publishing their articles in this volume are requested to email the student editor an abstract of about 300-600 words. Any further enquiries on the scope of the volume may be directed to Karthik Rao-Cavale (

Due date for abstracts: 30th of October 2014

Notification to selected authors: 15th of November 2014

Full Papers due: 15st of February 2014

Results of Peer review: 28th April 2015

Publication date (tentative): Summer/Fall 2015

Student Editor: Karthik Rao-Cavale (
PhD Candidate, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Faculty Advisor: Balakrishnan Rajagopal (
Associate Professor of Law and Development, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Editorial Board of Volume 12
Gabriella Carolini (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Marie Huchzermeyer (University of the Witwatersrand)
Peter Marcuse (Columbia University)
Partha Chatterjee (Columbia University)
Susan Silbey (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Eran Ben-Joseph (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Boaventura de Sousa Santos (University of Coimbria)
Antonio Azuela (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

September 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 24: Texas A&M Law symposium: A Review: Peter Gerhart’s Property Law and Social Morality

From Tim Mulvaney:


The Journal of Real Property Law invites you to its 4th annual symposium,

“A Review: Peter Gerhart’s Property Law and Social Morality,”

at Texas A&M University School of Law

on October 24, 2014 from 8:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.

CLE Credit Pending


This symposium is dedicated to Peter Gerhart’s development of a single theory to ex- plain the relationship between common and private property and how that relationship is defined by social customs.

The symposium will address both the theoretical underpinnings of Gerhart’s work and the real-world application of the ideas Gerhart sets forth. Substantive ideas shall include but are not limited to, nuisance law, environmental regulation, and the takings power.

Panelists Include:



University of Akron School of Law



George Mason University School of Law



Case Western Reserve University School of Law



Louisiana State University Paul M. Herbert Law Center



Marquette University Law School



Vanderbilt Law School



Cornell University Law School

The law school is honored to welcome these panelists, as well as Tony Buzbee, Esq., Managing Partner of The Buzbee Law Firm in Houston, TX, and member of the Texas A&M University Board of Regents, who will deliver the symposium’s keynote address.


September 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pace Law's 2014 Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference - December 5

Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Conference
Transitioning Communities

The Pace Law School Land Use Law Center is pleased to announce the theme of its 2014 Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference - Transitioning Communities.  The Conference will discuss topics and challenges that municipalities in the region are being faced with, such as the changing demographic pattern, changing community needs, the impact of a shrinking or growing pattern of development, and transitions between community environments - the suburban/rural-urban interface. The Conference will also highlight how communities are transitioning towards sustainability, disaster recovery, and revitalization. We will aim our sessions at addressing the needs of communities already in transition, as well as the idea of how to proactively transition communities toward something new. We invite you to spend the day at this educational event, with more than 250 attorneys, business professionals, and local leaders in attendance to learn about national, regional, and local innovations, challenges, and best practices.

There are several interesting sessions on the schedule, and we recently confirmed that Mitchell Silver, NYC Parks Commissioner; Past President, American Planning Association; Former Raleigh Chief Planning Officer; and City Innovator and Kaid Benfield, Special Counsel for Urban Solutions, Natural Resources Defense Council, will be our keynote speakers.

Conference participants can earn CLE, APA-CM, and New York State planning and zoning training credits.

We hope you can join us for this day-long event scheduled for December 5, 2014 at Pace Law School in the NYS Judicial Institute building.

There is additional information available on our conference page.

September 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Upcoming conferences on ocean management and environmental law and energy law moot court competition

The following two upcoming conferences, one with a New York focus and one with a national focus, may be of interest to land use scholars and practitioners. Additionally, West Virginia University College of Law is hosting its Fifth Annual National Energy & Sustainability Moot Court Competition, which may be of interest to students focused on land use, energy or environmental law. Here are the details: 

Managing New York Ocean Resources:  Connecting Science and Policy

Save the date: October 18, 2014, at Hofstra University in Queens, New York.

According to an email from a contact at Stony Brook University: As directed by the National Ocean Policy, Regional and New York Ocean Action Plans and Ocean Assessments are being drafted that will protect and guide management of marine resources now and in the future. The New York Marine Sciences Consortium will host a meeting to gather input from the scientific community, policy makers, other stakeholders and the general public to inform these action plans and assessments. Conference participants' input will be used to develop recommendations and identify critical knowledge gaps regarding ocean-related human uses, natural resources, and cultural factors. The NY Marine Sciences Consortium will use this information to produce a meeting report that will be presented to New York State and to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Oceans to guide development of the Action Plans and Assessments. Click here and choose ‘Annual Conference’ for more information. 

Additionally, for those interested in coastal policy issues, related social science issues, and marine science, the conference planners are seeking input on conference design, including break-out session topics. To provide input, please fill out the online questionnaire by September 12th.

Appalachian Public Interest Environmental Law (APIEL) Conference

October 17 to 19, 2014, at University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville, Tennessee.  

According to an email from Will Mazzota, President of the University of Tennessee law school's Environmental Law Organization: APIEL is a regional conference designed to bring attorneys, activists, policymakers, funders, philanthropists, students, and scientists together from across the greater Appalachian region. It is a vehicle to advance the most pressing environmental and public interest causes of our time; it will offer a chance to attend a wide selection of workshops and seminars led by lawyers, activists, and scientists. The workshops will cover a broad range of environmental public interest topics, including some topics of concern to land use practitioners and scholars. Topics include fracking, immigration, nuclear weapons, mountain top removal, and enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

It appears that APIEL may provide some travel stipends and food during conference events to attendees who need financial support.

Register for the event here. For more information about the conference, see APIEL's website

Fifth Annual WVU College of Law National Energy & Sustainability Moot Court Competition

Registration is open now for the March 12-14, 2015 competition in Morgantown, West Virginia.

An email from Jamie Van Nostrand, Associate Professor and Director of WVA's the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, describes this national competition as featuring problems that focus on current issues facing the energy industry. Past problems have been based on energy and sustainability issues associated with the gulf oil spill; the nuclear incident at Fukushima Daiichi; shale gas development and the Clean Air Act; and the intersection of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and common law nuisance claims associated with utility power plants.

Register here. Registration closes on January 5, 2015, and is limited to the first forty teams. Interested schools or student groups can contact Professor Van Nostrand (, (304)293-4694) or Samantha Stefanov, Program Assistant (, phone (304)293-0064) with questions.


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 (, (631)761-7137).

September 2, 2014 in Clean Energy, Coastal Regulation, Conferences, Environmental Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mulvaney: Progressive Property Moving Forward

Tim M. Mulvaney (Texas A&M) has just posted, Progressive Property Moving Forward, which will appear in an upcoming edition of the California Law Review Circuit.  Here is the abstract:

In his thought-provoking recent article, "The Ambition and Transformative Potential of Progressive Property," Ezra Rosser contends that, in the course of laying the foundations of a theory grounded in property’s social nature, scholars who participated in the renowned 2009 Cornell symposium on progressive property have “glossed over” property law’s continuing conquest of American Indian lands and the inheritance of privileges that stem from property-based discrimination against African Americans. I fully share Rosser’s concerns regarding past and continuing racialized acquisition and distribution, if not always his characterization of the select progressive works he critiques. Where I focus in this essay, though, is on the fact that, in the course of articulating his claim that these select progressive works have failed to attend sufficiently to matters of acquisition and distribution, Rosser wavers on whether a system of private property has the very capacity to play even a small part in fostering meaningful progressive change. 

After setting forth my understanding of Rosser’s contribution in the first part of the essay, I use the remaining pages to express slightly more confidence than does Rosser in property’s potential to serve a role in furthering a progressive society. If property is to serve in this role, however, I suggest that it seems important to redesign and reinterpret it in accord with three themes — transparency about property rules’ value-dependence, humility about the reach of human knowledge and the mutability of our normative positions, and a concern for the socioeconomic identities of those affected by resource disputes — themes that underlie a broader set of writings than Rosser considers within the contours of “progressive property scholarship” and on which I offer some very preliminary impressions.


September 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vermont / Georgetown / UC Davis takings conference - September 19 in Davis, CA

On September 19, 2014, Vermont Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and UC Davis Law School are hosting the 17th Annual Conference on Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations, in Davis, California.  Details available at

From the event website:

This conference explores the regulatory takings issue as it relates to land use and environmental regulation. In addition to offering a basic education in modern takings law, the conference brings together a diverse group of leading scholars and experienced practitioners to discuss cutting-edge issues raised by recent decisions and pending court cases. Some of the topics to be discussed include the practical implications of the Supreme Court's 5 to 4 decision in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District for state and local government land use standards and procedures. The conference will also address the potential effects of the Supreme Court's decision in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States on the Rails to Trails program in the western United States. National experts will also discuss the new, hotly contested idea of using the eminent domain power to take over underwater residential mortgages. Other major topics will include the potential takings issues associated with water management and possible takings claims that may arise from efforts to adapt to climate change.

September 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Introducing Guest Blogger Sarah Adams-Schoen

This month we welcome Sarah Adams-Schoen to our ranks for a visit. Sarah Adams-Schoen is an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the Institute on Land Use & Sustainable Development Law at Touro Law. She has a B.A., from Sarah Lawrence College, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a J.D., from Lewis & Clark Law School, where she previously taught Legal Analysis and Writing, Energy Law and White Collar Criminal Law. Before that, she worked as a senior policy analyst for Portland, Oregon’s Metro Regional Government, a criminal defense attorney for Janet Hoffman & Associates, and a civil and regulatory litigator at Stoel Rives. Professor Adams-Schoen is currently the co-editor-in-chief of Municipal Lawyer, a publication of the New York State Bar Association, and an associate editor of Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD. Her diverse research interests include environmental law, environmental criminal law, land use, and sustainability.

September 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Willamette Law now offering summaries of Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals decisions and orders online

Jeff Litwak (Columbia River Gorge Comm'n) sends the following news:

Last month, Willamette Law Online began summarizing decisions and orders of the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals and making them available through its WLO subscription service.  WLO provides an email to the subscriber with generally well written summaries.  The link is  This is a terrific resource for folks nationally that are interested in Oregon’s unique land use system.  

I noodled around the website and it seems like a great resource, including links to opinions, as well as summaries.  The subscription service is a nice touch, too, as you don't have to remember to go and check the site--the summaries just appear in your inbox. 

Stephen R. Miller 

September 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Introducing Guest Blogger Celeste Pagano

Sepetmeber is here and that means our guest bloggers are rotating. We heartily welcome Celeste Pagano to the Land Use Profs Blog for a stint. Celeste Pagano is a Visiting Research Fellow at DePaul University College of Law. She held previous positions at Florida Coastal School of Law, Oklahoma City University School of Law, and Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. She is a Phi Beta Kappa and honors graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She received her J.D. in 2000 from Harvard Law School. She also has more than six years of private practice experience as a commercial real estate attorney, specializing in the financing and development of multifamily affordable housing. She practiced in Boston and Houston. Pagano’s areas of expertise include land use, housing, and public-private partnerships. She has taught various land use, property, and environmental law related courses. She has written on toll road privatization, DIY Urbanism, and rolling easements. All issues that I expect our readers would love to hear more about.

September 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)