Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Victory for EJ Clinic at Golden Gate
From Susan Ruthberg at Golden Gate Law:
Today, in Potrero Hill, the last fossil fuel power plant in the City of San Francisco will close after a decade of legal efforts by community groups, the City of San Francisco and Golden Gate University School of Law’s Environmental Law & Justice Clinic (ELJC). On December 21, 2010, local and state figures gathered to announce the closure. Late last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made official the decision for today’s closure. For San Francisco residents in Bayview Hunters Point, Dogpatch and in the Potrero neighborhood where the plant is located, this means a future free of noxious air pollution.
ELJC Director Professor Helen Kang describes the significance of the final closure this way, “This is an environmental victory, but an equally important social justice coup, as these polluting plants were inevitably located in the low-income and working class neighborhoods of San Francisco, affecting a high percentage of non-white residents.”
Golden Gate Law’s ELJC and community groups have worked for decades on a regional level to reduce dependence on fossil-fuel based energy generation. Along the way, the Clinic filed a lawsuit against the Potrero power plant owner Mirant (now GenOn) to enforce the Clean Air Act, and law students testified before hearings held before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
ELJC was also involved in efforts that shut down the plant in Bayview Hunters Point in 2006. Eliminating fossil fuel plants in San Francisco required community groups (with ELJC performing legal work) to exhaust every possible avenue. Community groups organized and put on demonstrations, and legal advocates, including the Clinic and the City Attorney’s Office, monitored the power plants’ compliance with environmental laws and advocated for eliminating the use of bay waters as cooling sources for the plant—a practice that environmentalists say endangered aquatic life in the Bay.
Golden Gate Law Professor Alan Ramo, who led ELJC efforts in the early years, reflects on the decade-long, collaborative effort that made this monumental day possible. “I am grateful to ELJC’s clients such as the Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates and Communities for a Better Environment for giving our Clinic the opportunity to support their tireless and heroic efforts. Likewise, we are deeply thankful for the consistent support of The City Attorney's office, and in particular Theresa Mueller, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell and (former) Supervisor Aaron Peskin.”
While today’s closure represents a tremendous effort and victory for environmental justice, it is one component of multi-faceted, global effort aimed at increasing renewable energy sources. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2010, scientists and environmental leaders agreed upon the need to address climate change globally. More stringent actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by industrialized nations (and in states like California), cannot be postponed much longer. Still, today’s plant closure is a powerful symbol of community solidarity. Resident and community leader Karen Pierce of Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates describes the meaning of today’s closure this way: “This final closure demonstrates that communities working together along with their government can successfully eliminate fossil fuel and other pollutants that affect their neighborhoods and families.”
You can also read Helen Kang's blog post about the victory here.
Jamie Baker Roskie
March 1, 2011 in California, Environmental Justice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Three Dimensional Master Plan?
Hello all and thanks for the welcome, Matt.
For years cities, such as Montreal (the RESO), have been developing space underground. In what CNN reports as a "first," Helsinki has developed an Underground Master Plan. The plan designates a diverse group of uses for the underground area, ranging from industrial to recreation uses, such as an existing swimming pool (which, fortunately, doubles as a bunker when necessary). According to the report, Helsinki sits on bedrock strong enough to support the existing streetscape even when space is carved out for the lower levels. The CNN report claims a host of environmental benefits from the action, many of which are disputed in the comments.
As cities such as Helsinki start to think about the relationship between the street level and the subsurface (as inhabitable space), the next step may be to craft a three dimensional master plan. And who knows, this may be Seattle's chance to recommission its underground, although "[w]hen your dreams tire, they go underground and out of kindness that's where they stay." (Margaret Fuller).
March 1, 2011 in Architecture, California, Common Interest Communities, Community Design, Community Economic Development, Comparative Land Use, Comprehensive Plans, Density, Development, Downtown, Economic Development, History, Homeowners Associations, Housing, Local Government, New Urbanism, Planning, Politics, Property, Property Rights, Property Theory, Real Estate Transactions, Redevelopment, Smart Growth, Sprawl, State Government, Subdivision Regulations, Urbanism, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Teaching Outside the Box
We're now entering week 4 of the spring semester at Buffalo. I'm very excited about my classes this e. Both of which are firsts for me.
I am teaching Natural Resources Law. This is a fun course and I have a great group of students. I was a bit taken aback when I learned how many of my students are from Buffalo. Place matters for many reasons, but it is especially strange feeling to teach a public lands class without one person in the room from west of the Mississippi.
I am also teaching a distributed graduate seminar called Land Conservation in a Changing Climate. "A distributed what?" you say? Yep, a distributed graduate seminar. I believe it is the first seminar of its type in the legal academy. A group of eight professors at six different schools (Buffalo, Denver, Indiana,South Carolina, Stanford, Wisconsin) are all teaching a course with roughly the same title at the same time. We have similar but not identical syllabi and take slightly different approaches to our classes. Although law students probably dominate the classes, we have opened up our classes to graduate students in other departments. All students are examining case studies, collecting data, and inputting results of interviews and research into a joint system. At the end of the semester, both the faculty and students will have access to the collected data. I am excited about this project for many reasons. First, our students are learning how to work with social scientists and understand scientific reports and papers. Second, students are actually collecting data and interviewing people who are conserving land. Third, the data collection will enable us to think both about our own states and do comparative work. Studying conservation easements is often challenged by the lack of available data. We are specifically examining how conservation easements will react (or not) to climate change. I think this project will be good for the students of course, but I also hope they learn things that will help others.
I will be speaking more about this project in May at Pace's Practically Grounded Conference (and elsewhere). If any of you are engaged in (or know of) similar projects, please let me know!
- Jessica Owley
February 27, 2011 in California, Charleston, Climate, Conferences, Conservation Easements, Environmentalism, Land Trust, Lectures, New York, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, February 24, 2011
How do you sell a town?
is not a question answered by this article in Newsweek magazine, but the article does provide an interesting perspective about the past, and future, of company owned towns. Timber town Scotia, California is on the market, but at the same time Google and Facebook are providing extensive commercial services and housing to their employees.
Jamie Baker Roskie
February 24, 2011 in California, Development, History, Property | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Kahn, Vaughn, & Zasloff on the Housing Market Effects of Discrete Land Use Regulations
Matthew E. Kahn (UCLA, Inst. of Environment; Economics; Public Policy), Ryan Vaughn (UCLA, Economics), and Jonathan Zasloff (UCLA, Law) have posted The Housing Market Effects of Discrete Land Use Regulations: Evidence from the California Coastal Boundary Zone, Journal of Housing Economics, Vol. 19, pp. 269-279, December 2010. The abstract:
The California coast line borders most beautiful and expensive land in the entire world. The California Coastal Commission was created in 1976 to protect the coast line and to regulate land use within the coastal boundary zone. This well defined regulatory boundary offers a unique opportunity to study the consequences of land use regulation on nearby housing located in the same political jurisdiction. Using two different geocoded data sets, we document gentrification within the boundary and discuss possible explanations for these patterns.
February 17, 2011 in Beaches, California, Coastal Regulation, Development, Environmental Law, Housing, Property, Scholarship, State Government | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Land Use in the State of the Union
I didn't have time to watch it last night, so I asked my students this morning to identify the land use issues in the President's speech. They mentioned two things: high-speed rail, and clean energy. From the Associated Press report, here's the key quote on HSR:
Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying - without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already under way.
Potentially faster than flying, and they won't touch your junk! And here are two early responses. First, from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's Fastlane blog, America has a Future to Win; DOT stands ready to help:
As the President said last night, American businesses and workers are now competing in a global economy. If we are to thrive in competitive markets, we must be able to move goods and people faster and more reliably than ever.
At DOT we have been working hard to help do just that. And the projects we are supporting to rebuild America's transportation infrastructure are creating good jobs for American workers.
But the Reason Foundation's Samuel Staley is not so sanguine. Noting that the President cited China's massive investments in HSR, Staley argues that historical, economic, and geographic factors will render a similar HSR program impractical in the U.S. From President Obama, China, High-Speed Rail and the Sputnik Moment:
A key factor in ensuring high-speed rail's success is the closeness of employment and population centers. The largest Chinese cities aren't nearly as spread out as U.S. cities in terms of distance and the high speed rail lines are connecting larger urban cities.
China has 120 cities with populations of one million or more, and its cities are expected to add the equivalent of another United States - 300 million people - by 2025. The high-speed rail line will connect to most cities with populations greater than 500,000. Given existing levels of very low mobility and income, rail would be a natural beneficiary of rising travel demand as the travel market matures.
It will be interesting to see where the debate over HSR goes from here, particularly in light of the new fiscal and political constraints. I'm also curious about how many people out there may not have thought very much about the HSR issue before the President gave it a mention in the State of the Union.
UPDATE: I was planning on posting this anyway, but then as I was preparing for my afternoon Property I class, I realized it's a great tie-in to the famous INS v. Associated Press case that was assigned for today: If INS can't report the news it learns from AP's public bulletin, how come it's OK for me to blog about information I got from the AP's website? Discuss! Fun stuff.
January 26, 2011 in California, Clean Energy, Comparative Land Use, Federal Government, Financial Crisis, History, Politics, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Friday, December 24, 2010
Only in Hollywood - Film School vs. Farmers' Market
In an interesting variation on "coming to the nuisance," the Los Angeles Film School has moved next door to the Hollywood Farmers' Market and is now contesting renewal of the market's permit. Apparently, the market - which operates only on Sunday - blocks access to one of the school's parking lots. There's a Joni Mitchell song in there somewhere. Read about it in The New York Times.
Jamie Baker Roskie
December 24, 2010 in Agriculture, California, Development, Parking | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Friday, December 10, 2010
Marijuana dispensaries are growing like weeds. The recent ABA article, "Up in Smoke," chronicles some of the chronic problems plaguing states that have legalized medical marijuana. This Blog has already noted Kansler and Salkin's article on zoning law and regulation of "dispensaries."
The fact that municipalities have regulatory power through zoning is part of the problem. Of the fourteen or so states that have legalized medical marijuana, none have a comprehensive regulatory scheme. California, for example, passed a very generalized statute, but local counties and municipalities are left with no guidance on the particulars. Vanderbilt Law Professor, Robert Mikos, posits that "no one has any idea how many medical dispensaries are out there [in California]." To reign in dispensaries, Los Angeles recently cut the number of allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to seventy.
Now that Arizona voters have approved (this past November) medical marijuana, the problem of uniformity and new zoning regulations again arises. Perhaps Justice O'Connor's justification for federalism -- that states serve as laboratories -- rings true for Arizona. In other words, Arizona may have learned from California's mistakes. A model ordinance from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns at least gives some guidance to Arizona municipalities as they struggle to implement the state's newest law.
December 10, 2010 in California, Comprehensive Plans, Local Government, Planning, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Dolan on the Salazar cross, historic preservation, and federal land transfers
Mary Jean Dolan (John Marshall-Chicago) has posted P.S. Untold Stories and the Cross National Monument. We've mentioned the land use aspects of the Salazar decision before. Dolan's abstract:
This Article offers an interesting post script to the Supreme Court’s Salazar v. Buono Establishment Clause decision. It presents some surprising non-record facts and additional issues raised by Congress’s 2002 designation of the Mojave Cross as a “National Memorial.” This Act deserves more exploration, particularly because it appears wholly extraneous to the government policy approved by the Supreme Court plurality: ending the appearance of government endorsement of religion, while simultaneously “avoid[ing] the disturbing symbolism associated with the destruction of the historic monument.”
Included in the new information is evidence that National Memorial status is not as lofty or rare as it would seem, the cross does not appear to be the sole WWI memorial for the nation, and in the past, Congress has abolished National Memorial status upon transferring the land. The Article also looks at the intersection of historic preservation law and Congress’ requirement that the Secretary of the Interior fund and install a new replica cross on Sunrise Rock.
December 7, 2010 in California, Caselaw, Federal Government, First Amendment, Historic Preservation, History, RLUIPA, Scholarship, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Food Truck Scholarship
Chad has a great post below on the latest craze, food trucks. By coincidence, just yesterday I saw this SSRN paper by Ernesto Hernandez Lopez (Chapman): LA’s Taco Truck War: How Law Cooks Food Culture Contests. The abstract:
This paper examines the Los Angeles “Taco Truck War” (2008-9), when the city of Los Angeles and LA county used parking regulations to restrict “loncheros,” i.e. “taco trucks.” It describes the legal doctrine used by courts to invalidate these local restrictions. The California Vehicle code makes local food truck regulations illegal. Decades of court decisions affirm this. The paper sheds light, legal and cultural, on food truck debates, which will surely expand nationwide. It examines: the cultural and business arguments for food truck regulations; food’s role in migrant, community, and national identities; Mexican food’s influence in California culture; and recent trends in food trucks such as Koggi BBQ.
And from earlier this year, Alfonso Morales (Urban & Regional Planning, Wisconsin) and Gregg W. Kettles (Law, Mississippi College) posted Healthy Food Outside: Farmers' Markets, Taco Trucks, and Sidewalk Fruit Vendors, published in the Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, Vol. 20 (2009). The abstract:
This paper explores the many dimensions of street vending and public markets, the multiple intersections vending and markets have with food regulation, and the historical connection markets have with other policy problems. We develop the article in four parts, following the introduction found in section one the article touches on three elements of law and public policy. The second section considers markets and merchants in public goods with their associated dilemmas. Our approach is to reconfigure the emphasis on public space as transportation by justifying the use of the street and sidewalk for street vending. The importance of public space for commerce and other creative activities bridges the second and third sections of the article. The third section chronicles the history of law and regulation around street and public markets. Here we emphasize how cities historically used public markets as public policy tools to address food security, employment, and to help those growing cities accommodate new immigrants. The fourth section focuses on public health by examining the law of outdoor food sold on the street. Through our analysis we set forth numerous suggestions for advocacy, policy, and legal reform.
Chad's right, food trucks are becoming a big deal. I was skeptical at first, but it looks like they have come a long way from the "roach coaches" I remember on Army posts. Check out the articles that he linked to, and for an even less highbrow alternative you can watch the Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race (you know that a trend has arrived when it gets a reality show). It's a serious question, though, how cities are going to choose to accommodate or regulate this phenomenon through their land use laws.
November 18, 2010 in California, Food, Local Government, Parking, Pedestrian, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
McAllister on Enforcing Cap and Trade
Lesley K. McAllister (San Diego) has posted Enforcing Cap and Trade: A Tale of Two Programs, from San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law, Vol. 2, 2010 The abstract:
The ease of enforcement is often identified as a benefit of cap and trade regulation. Almost all such assertions are made based on the experience of the Acid Rain Program, a cap and trade program implemented by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1995 to cap the sulfur dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants. However, RECLAIM, a cap and trade program that began the year before in Los Angeles’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, tells a very different story about how difficult and resource-intensive the enforcement of a cap and trade program can be. This article describes and analyzes enforcement data from these two programs to show that even when enforcement provisions are designed in a similar way, the enforcement systems and enforcement outcomes that prevail may be very different. The article features an empirical analysis of RECLAIM enforcement cases from the beginning of the program through 2006, characterizing them in terms of number, type, case processing times, and penalty amounts.
November 16, 2010 in California, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, November 11, 2010
You might be surprised at how much land use and veterans' issues have been intertwined over the course of American history. From land grants and westward expansion, to the expansion of education, to the postwar expansion of suburbia, many federal, state, and local policies have tied land use and development to an appropriate public concern for veterans; the results have been mixed. I wrote a post on these issues last year; you can read it here.
This year, we have at least one new land use/veterans issue to add: the U.S. Supreme Court decided Salazar v. Buono, which dealt with a land swap by Congress to protect a monument to servicemembers killed in World War I, placed on public land by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, that was in the shape of a cross. Read our post here, and SCOTUSblog's resource page, and check out Christoper Lund's Northwestern Colloquy article on the case.
A happy Veterans Day to all, with gratitude to those who have served in harm's way.
November 11, 2010 in California, Caselaw, Constitutional Law, Federal Government, First Amendment, History, Property, Scholarship, Suburbs, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Happy Halloween: Top 10 Haunted Homes in U.S.
From the Zillow Blog comes this entry: Top 10 Haunted Homes in U.S. Here's the list:
1. Winchester House, San Jose CA
2. Lizzie Borden House (you know, the girl with the axe who gave her parents 40/41 whacks), Fall River MA.
3. LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans LA
4. The White House, Washington DC
5. Franklin Castle, Cleveland OH
6. Sprague Mansion, Cranston RI
7. Chambers Mansion, San Fransisco CA
8. Mytrles Plantation, St. Francisville LA
9. Stranahan House, Ft. Lauderdale FL
10. Whaley House, San Diego CA
Go and read the blog post for the interesting stories behind each haunted house. The post explains why it left the Amityville Horror house off the list, but that's not my beef, of course: where is the house from Stambovsky v. Ackley? That's the property law casebook staple, where after a real estate transaction, the buyer learned that the house was reputedly possessed by a poltergeist. The NY Appellate Division (1991) held that for purposes of rescinding the contract, the house was haunted as a matter of law. And it's beyond dispute that Property casebooks have terrified generations of law students!
Happy Halloween everyone, and watch out for the Dead Hand.
October 31, 2010 in California, Caselaw, Housing, Humorous, New York, Real Estate Transactions, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Designing Tomorrow Blog
I've previously blogged about the National Building Museum's exhibition Designing Tomorrow: America's World Fairs of the 1930s. Now I've learned that the project has an official blog: the Designing Tomorrow Blog.
Looks like a great way to learn more about the exhibition . . . at least until you get to DC to see it (such as during ALPS in March!). So far there is a series of introductory posts to outline the exhibition, and an interview with Bob Rydell (Montana), which promises to be the first of a series of conversations. I look forward to learning more about this fascinating exhibition.
October 28, 2010 in California, Chicago, Conferences, History, New York, Planning, Scholarship, Texas | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Stanford Law Creates Luke Cole Professorship
Stanford has created the Luke Cole Professorship in Environmental Law and Directorship of the Environmental Law Clinic. Deborah Sivas, who has been director of Stanford's environmental clinic since 1997, is the first Cole Professor.
From the story on Stanford's website:
In a Reunion Homecoming ceremony filled with emotion, friends and family dedicated a new Law School professorship to the late Luke Cole, a noted environmental activist who died in a car accident in Uganda this summer at age 46...
Being named the first holder of the Luke Cole chair is especially meaningful for me," said Sivas. "Luke was a contemporary and a colleague whose advocacy on behalf of underserved communities was truly pathbreaking and whose vision of environmental and social justice continues to be so inspiring to all of us who knew him."
"I think Luke would be pleased to know that a gift in his memory will help train and prepare a new generation of lawyers to carry the flame of environmental justice that he lit and kept burning for so many years," Sivas added.
While I never knew Luke Cole, I have read and admired his work since we started an environmental justice caseload three years ago. I also know Deb Sivas through meetings of the environmental clinicians, and I think she does tremendous work. It's nice to see her receive an endowed chair, and the stability this professorship brings should also be good for her clinic.
Jamie Baker Roskie
October 28, 2010 in California, Environmental Justice, Environmental Law, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Lund on Salazar v. Buono and the Future of the Establishment Clause
Christopher C. Lund (Wayne State) has posted Salazar v. Buono and the Future of the Establishment Clause, forthcoming in Northwestern Law Review Colloquy,
This short Colloquy essay reflects on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Salazar v. Buono, 130 S. Ct. 1803 (2010). The case involved a constitutional challenge, brought under the Establishment Clause, to a cross put up by private parties on government land in the Mojave National Preserve. This piece reviews the issues presented by the case (only some of which were addressed by the Supreme Court), and considers the future of the Establishment Clause in that light.
The Salazar case has been known publicity as a Religion Clause case, but the dispute centers around the constitutionality of a federal government land swap that allowed the monument to go into private hands. The Supreme Court decision didn't quite reach the land question, but as with most religious monument/First Amendment cases, it is at bottom a controversy over land use.
October 17, 2010 in California, Caselaw, Constitutional Law, Federal Government, First Amendment, Property Rights, Scholarship, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Monday, October 4, 2010
Fischel on the Persistence of Localism in Zoning
William A. Fischel (Dartmouth, economics) has posted The Evolution of Zoning Since the 1980s: The Persistence of Localism. The abstract:
Zoning is the regulation of the use of land by local government. Although it is the most jealously guarded municipal power, zoning is not a static institution. I demonstrate this by reviewing several "top down" attempts to reform zoning in the last three decades. Examples are the affordable housing movement and regulatory takings litigation. I argue that these reforms have either failed or tended to make local zoning more restrictive. I then review new research on the origins of zoning in Los Angeles and find evidence that zoning has always been more of a bottom up institution than most of its critics have assumed. Local knowledge of neighborhood conditions and widespread ownership of property are the most important factors that keep zoning local. Reforms that do not take into account these factors are not likely to succeed.
Any paper by Prof. Fischel is sure to be a must-read for land use and local government scholars, and this one looks to be very interesting.
October 4, 2010 in Affordable Housing, California, Local Government, Scholarship, Takings, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s
The National Building Museum has announced a new exhibition: Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s, from Oct. 2 (Saturday!) thru July 10, 2011. It sounds absolutely fascinating:
These world's fairs had a profound influence on American culture and ideals for land use. I've blogged about the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition before and its impact on the origins of land use planning. This group from the 1930s also had a profound impact on Americans' notions of modernism, suburbia, and even on the inspiration for Disney World (hey Chad!). Can't wait to see this next time I'm in DC. If you're going to ALPS in March, the National Building Museum is only a couple of blocks away from Georgetown Law, so definitely plan to check it out!
Between 1933 and 1940 tens of millions of Americans visited world's fairs in cities across the nation.Designing Tomorrow will explore the modernist spectacles of architecture and design they witnessed -- visions of a brighter future during the worst economic crisis the United States had known. The fairs popularized modern design for the American public and promoted the idea of science and consumerism as salvation from the Great Depression. . . .
A first-of-its-kind exhibition, Designing Tomorrow will feature nearly 200 never-before-assembled artifacts including building models, architectural remnants, drawings, paintings, prints, furniture, an original RCA TRK-12 television, Elektro the Moto-Man robot, and period film footage. The artifacts are drawn from the featured expositions: Chicago, IL—A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933–34); San Diego, CA—California Pacific International Exposition (1935-36); Dallas, TX—Texas Centennial Exposition (1936); Cleveland, OH—Great Lakes Exposition (1936-37); San Francisco, CA—Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-40); and New York, NY—New York World's Fair (1939-40).
September 28, 2010 in Architecture, California, Chicago, Conferences, Development, History, New York, Planning, Suburbs, Texas, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Abandoned Farmland Slated for Solar Project
According to a recent story on NPR's Morning Edition, California has recently declared one of the most ambitious targets for renewable energy in the world - 1/3rd of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. (Sadly, Georgia has no currently goal. No Southeastern state has, except North Carolina.) However, like Cape Wind, struggles continue over siting renewable energy projects - like this solar project proposed in Central California.
However, according to a recent story in The New York Times, there are places where the siting of solar projects is popular with pretty much everybody - on abandoned agricultural land.
Thousands of acres of farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley have been removed from agricultural production, largely because the once fertile land is contaminated by salt buildup from years of irrigation.
But large swaths of those dry fields could have a valuable new use in their future — making electricity.
Farmers and officials at Westlands Water District, a public agency that supplies water to farms in the valley, have agreed to provide land for what would be one of the world’s largest solar energy complexes, to be built on 30,000 acres. At peak output, the proposed Westlands Solar Park would generate as much electricity as several big nuclear power plants.
It's interesting that one environmental problem - saltwater intrusion from overpumping of the coastal aquafers - might contribute to another environmental solution - reduction of dependence on coal-fired power plants. Anyway, it's nice to see a non-controversial renewable energy project, for a change.
Jamie Baker Roskie
August 17, 2010 in California, Clean Energy, Environmentalism, Georgia, State Government, Water, Wetlands, Wind Energy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Monday, April 26, 2010
Controlled Experiments in Land Use - A Response
Our guest editor Ken Stahl wrote a really interesting post yesterday entitled "Are there 'controlled experiments' in land use? Does it matter?" I was so intrigued by his thought-provoking words that I felt compelled to blog my response, rather than just comment.
Of course land use, like all politics, is local. Ken makes a valid point that few people outside of California give much credence to the choices of California's local governments. Certainly, here in Georgia - a much different, more conservative milieu - California examples are widely disregarded.
However, here at the Land Use Clinic we make our living helping local governments and citizens create land use policy. We have to start somewhere, and usually that somewhere is a survey of what other localities have done on a particular issue. If you review the documents on the LUC webpage, you will find many case studies and model ordinances that pull together examples from multiple places both in and outside of Georgia.
On the other hand, often the examples of jurisdictions in other states quickly become irrelevant due to differences in state law or powers granted by a particular state to local governments. For example, California has regional air quality districts hat help localities coordinate local air pollution regulation and give teeth to regional efforts to improve air quality. Georgia has no such structure, and probably never will. I also often warn my students away from Florida examples. One of my students just wrote a memo on school concurrency programs in Florida, and ultimately came to the conclusion that no such local policy is possible in Georgia without a change in state law. Given how distracted the Georgia legislature is right now by other matters, that change isn't likely to come soon.
So how do we, and our clients, reconcile these conflicts? Certainly no one can simply cut and paste together an ordinance from other jurisdictions, but learning how policy choices have played out in other places provides key information for us to create a unique, yet workable arrangement for each of our clients. We're helping folks make law, and even new law must be based on precedent, both legal and practical. It's a delicate operation, and sometimes it works better than others.
Jamie Baker Roskie
April 26, 2010 in California, Comparative Land Use, Georgia, Local Government, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)