Thursday, August 14, 2014

Zale on a City's Right to Destroy

KellenZaleKellen Zale (Houston) has posted Urban Resiliency and Destruction (Idaho Law Review) on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

In this article, I evaluate a city's right to destroy property that it owns and how that right can have both positive and negative impacts on resiliency. The article starts from the proposition that property destruction is as necessary to urban resiliency as creation: destruction allows cities to eliminate outdated and vacant buildings; create the necessary physical space for redevelopment; and redirect economic resources to best meet the needs of residents. However, the article contends that the power to destroy poses risks to the city’s resiliency because of the very characteristics that make it appealing in other contexts: it is permanent, cheap, and simple. As a result, cities may engage in a tendency to overuse the power to destroy in situations where it is not the most resilient choice. 

The article suggests that the difficulty is predicting a priori when exercising the right to destroy will make a city more resilient and when it will not. Although the standards employed in a particular context may implicate considerations related to resiliency, a city’s decision to destroy property is often made on an ad hoc basis, without any explicit consideration of the impact on the city’s resiliency. Therefore, the article argues that before exercising the right to destroy as a property owner, a city should conduct a demolition review procedure, modeled on existing legal procedures such as environmental protection laws and demolition delay regulations.

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