Monday, August 30, 2021

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

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

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

August 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

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

Zoning to Fill the Missing Middle Housing Gap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

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

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

August 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UCLA Housing Voice podcast is a "must listen"

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

August 30, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

More on Norfolk here.

 

August 16, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

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

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

August 16, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 13, 2021

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

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

ADU Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

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

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

August 13, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

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

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

Housing, a Crucial Determinant of Health

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

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

QUALITY:

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

STABILITY:

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

AFFORDABILITY:

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

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

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

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

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

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

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

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

August 12, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Hiring Announcement: University of Colorado Law School  

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

 

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

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

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

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

August 5, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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

 

AALS Section on State and Local Government Law

2022 AALS Annual Meeting

Call for Proposals

 

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

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

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

August 3, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 2, 2021

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

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

The Pandemic Plan for Healthy Buildings

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

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

The Healthy Building Checklist

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

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

The topics included in the Healthy Buildings Checklist focus on:

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

The full Healthy Building Checklist is here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The previous blogs in the series are listed here:

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

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

August 2, 2021 | Permalink | Comments (0)