Property law roundup

  • Playlist: songs about eminent domain and takings, property law and the road [Robert H. Thomas, Inverse Condemnation]
  • In-depth look into problems that develop when title to land is held as “heirs’ property,” leaving a dangerous collective tangle in place of individual right and duty [David Slade and Angie Jackson, Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)]
  • Dispute over remains of two dinosaurs locked in combat 66 million years ago, lately unearthed in Garfield County, Mont. and extremely valuable, hinges on whether their fossils are “minerals”; Ninth Circuit says they are under Montana law [AP via Molly Brady (“property professor dream hypo”), Murray v. BEJ Minerals]
  • “Government Should Compensate Property Owners for Flood Damage It Facilitated” [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Cato amicus petition for certiorari in St. Bernard Parish v. United States] “Texas Court Rules Deliberate Flooding of Private Property by State Government in Wake of Hurricane Harvey can be a Taking” [Ilya Somin]
  • Constituent-group politics continues to shape use of federal lands, to the detriment of its economic value [Gary Libecap, Regulation and related working paper]
  • Caution, satire: Facebook parody of super-intrusive, restrictive, and meddlesome HOA [East Mountain West View Home Owners Association]


  • Let’s see, animal, vegetable, or mineral? I’d go with animal, anything else and you’re leading the other players astray.

  • Near my home in Atlanta, a tract big enough for a whole subdivision was heirs property for black families. It was worth many millions but it took over 20 years from when they first started trying to straighten it out to build the first home there.
    In other countries (Greece is one I read about) the lack of clear title to land (imagine 4000 years of history) is a big impediment to economic progress.

  • Privatizing Federal lands in the dry West?

    This is a bad idea if it means open lands will be fenced off with “No trespassing” signs. The lands would only pick up pennies an acre at public auction, far too little to justify destroying the quality of life in the open West. “Don’t fence me in!”

    I am more sympathetic to private use, however, eg mining (provided the taxpayer gets reasonable royalties), and intelligently managed logging.

    The Scandinavian countries have a superior legal framework for private land in wilderness of low economic value– the “freedom to roam”, aka “every man’s right” (“allemansrätten”).
    Roads, trails, and undeveloped lands are open to hikers, hunters, and campers who respect them.

  • Flood “takings”?

    If the taxpayers pay for the first flooding, they should then be exempt from paying for any new building in that flood zone.

    • Hugo,
      I always thought that if the Fed Gov’t was to step up and pay something like market value to provide aid to the uninsured following a flood, hurricane, etc, it should do so on the condition of taking title to the property, then amass those properties together and redesignate them as floodlands to buffer against future disasters of similar nature. The idea of paying out Federal Aid in FL, LA, MS, SC etc again and again because private insurers won’t issue policies to cover the sandbars, tidal flood plains, and sinking swamps people have chosen to build upon. Same thought for lava spills/volcanic eruptions.

      (and I make that suggestion as a FL resident)

    • Bulldozing fire line “takings”?

      If the taxpayers pay for the first time they bulldoze my home to create a fire line at the wild land interface so as to save the whole town, they should then be exempt from paying for any subsequent times they bulldoze my house in the future to save the town.

      Make sense Hugo?

      Neither does intentionally flooding my land and home repeatedly and only paying once for the act.

      Unless of course, the powers that be condemn via eminent domain an easement for the future right to flood my land at will, and pay full compensation for that future right, or bulldoze a fire line across my property to save the town.