- California delay: “NIMBYs get to file until 90 days ‘after the current state of emergency ends.” In other words, no one can know when they are free to build so the law could put every CA construction project that hasn’t already past CEQA review into limbo.’ [Alex Tabarrok, earlier on CEQA] “San Francisco Bureaucrats Can Shoot Down Almost Any Housing Project They Want. This Ballot Initiative Would Change That.” [Christian Britschgi]
- Local building-stopping regs have national economic implications: “If America’s three most productive cities relaxed their planning regulations to the same level as the median U.S. city, real per capita income [for *all* Americans] would rise by about 8.2%.” Conversely: “If you were to force America’s 11 largest cities to be no larger than Miami, real income per American would fall by 7.9%.” [Tyler Cowen]
- In western U.S., value of implicit firefighting subsidy “can exceed 20% of a home’s value… and decreases surprisingly steeply with development density” [Patrick Baylis, Judson Boomhower, NBER]
- Review of “Order Without Design” by Alain Bertaud [Scott Beyer]
- Not new, but well worth a read: overlap between libertarian and Strong Towns ideas [Andrew Burleson, 2013]
- “‘I asked the park representatives if there was any way we could negotiate on this, and they told me, “The time for talking is over. We’re taking this property.”‘” Bike path eminent domain [Steve Malanga, WSJ/Manhattan Institute]
A month ago I posted about the interesting legal and policy question of whether business closures aimed at preventing spread of the COVID-19 virus should be seen as a taking for which fair compensation is due. I’ve got another round on that subject up now at Cato at Liberty.
As police battle a Colorado criminal on the loose, the home of innocent bystanders is destroyed. City of Greenwood Village to owners: rough luck, we know, but we don’t owe you anything for that loss. Or might the Supreme Court want to view that as a taking for which fair compensation is owed under the Fifth Amendment? Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and Michael Collins on the Cato Institute’s certiorari amicus brief in Lech v. Jackson; Ilya Somin (yes, the oft-confused Ilyas were both involved).
Most of us are familiar with the Constitution’s Takings Clause, which requires the federal government to pay compensation when it takes private property. Virtually all state constitutions contain similar provisions. But twenty-seven state constitutions go further than that by requiring the government also to pay compensation for “damaging” or “injuring” property.
Until now, these “Damagings Clauses” have largely been ignored by legal scholars, particularly constitutional law scholars—and even by property rights advocates. But an outstanding 2018 article by Professor Maureen “Molly” Brady (who has just moved from the University of Virginia to Harvard) could help change that. She sheds light on the origins of these clauses in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the ways in which they have been largely gutted by court decisions, and what can be done to resuscitate them today.
Of the many lessons, one is simple: getting a constitutional amendment on the books is only half the battle, and often not the more difficult half. [Ilya Somin, Jotwell]
Los Angeles council members propose using eminent domain to seize apartment buildings to prevent rent hikes. The complex was built under a deal that required the developer/owner to hold rents below market levels for thirty years, and that period has now expired. [David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times; Christian Britschgi, Reason]
I think the scheme is premised in part on sponsors’ knowing that the city could proceed to make a low-ball offer premised on some combination of 1) uncertainty about whether judges would in fact award a fair market value sum that reflected actual market values, 2) the expected cost of litigation, and 3) other leverage the city might be able to bring to bear on the owners. Gideon Kanner, emeritus professor at Loyola L.A. Law and land use expert, has had a running feature for years at his blog called “Lowball Watch” with many examples of the low-ball offers routinely made in eminent domain proceedings.
- In Knick v. Township of Scott, the Supreme Court overturned a precedent that made it hard for property owners to get justice in takings cases. Ilya Somin analyzes the outcome in the new Cato Supreme Court Review [more, earlier]
- But who will build the roads? “U.S. Should Adopt the Nordic Approach to Private Roads” [Giovanna da Silva, Devoe Moore Center Blog]
- One of the defining regulatory controversies of the past two years has been over the effort to reverse the Obama administration’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule [Jonathan Adler, Cato Regulation magazine via Peter Van Doren] Another court has struck down the Obama rule [Adler]
- “The Public Trust Doctrine: A Brief (and True) History” [James L. Huffman, George Washington Journal of Energy and Environmental Law]
- “On Glyphosate, Who Do You Trust: UCSF Or Everybody Else?” [Alex Berezow, ACSH, earlier]
- “Trophy Hunting and African Development” [Cato podcast with Catherine Semcer and Caleb Brown]
Janice Smyth’s family had paid property taxes for 40 years on a residential-zoned land parcel on Cape Cod, which has been left as the last plot in its neighborhood not residentially developed. But the town of Falmouth has adopted land-use regulations that have left only a 115-square-foot patch of it developable. Massachusetts courts: even if the plot’s valuation fell from $700,000 to $60,000, a decline of more than 90 percent, it’s not a taking since you could still use the land as a park or to walk dogs or for neighbors to buy as a buffer. The dispute might make a suitable vehicle for the Supreme Court to revisit the question of whether an outright confiscation of all uses is required before the Constitution’s requirement of just compensation kicks in [Trevor Burrus on Cato certiorari amicus brief in case of Smyth v. Conservation Commission of Falmouth et al.]
- Nice little Supreme Court you got there, be a shame if anyone came around to mess it up, say Sens. Whitehouse, Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Hirono, and Durbin in incendiary “enemy-of-the-court” brief [Robert Barnes, Washington Post/Laredo Morning Times; David French, National Review; James Huffman, Inside Sources]
- Cato podcast triple-header, all with Caleb Brown: Trevor Burrus and Ilya Shapiro on Gundy v. U.S. and the limits of Congressional delegation, Ilya Shapiro and Clark Neily on the aftermath of double-jeopardy case Gamble v. U.S., and Trevor Burrus on the First Amendment case Manhattan Community Access Corporation v. Halleck (cable public access channel not a state actor);
- Criminal forfeiture, where used, should track lines of individual owner and asset responsibility, not the loose all-for-one joint-and-several-liability standards of some civil litigation [Trevor Burrus on Cato certiorari petition in Peithman v. U.S.]
- Federalist Society National Student Symposium panel on “The Original Understanding of the Privileges and Immunities Clause” with Randy Barnett, Rebecca Zietlow, Kurt Lash, Ilan Wurman, and moderated by Judge Amul Thapar;
- On the independence of administrative law judges, issues left over from Lucia v. U.S. are now coming back up in SEC proceedings [William Yeatman on Cato Fifth Circuit amicus brief in Cochran v. U.S.]
- Take-land-now, pay-later procedures may get pipelines built faster but at the expense of property owners’ rights. SCOTUS should act to assure just and timely compensation [Ilya Shapiro on Cato certiorari petition in Givens v. Mountain Valley Pipeline]
- When does a taking of land occur? The wrong answer would let the government push around owners in disputes over rails-to-trails projects [Trevor Burrus on Cato Institute amicus brief on Federal Circuit case of Caquelin v. U.S.]
- Though the federal government can’t successfully manage the Western lands it already has, it will soon extend its grip over more. This time Republicans are responsible [Chris Edwards, Cato]
- “Sydney’s rental prices are declining because it’s seeing a building boom. The size of Sydney’s apartment market has doubled in two years, and landlords have had to drop rents in order to get tenants.” [Scott Shackford, Reason]
- To make NYC’s public housing towers a better place to live, throw Le Corbusier off the balcony [Howard Husock, New York Post]
- Economist Robert H. Nelson, R.I.P. [Jane Shaw, Cato Regulation Magazine]
- Update: Baltimore eminent domain case against owner of Preakness Stakes race and Pimlico track dropped for now, but remains as bludgeon in closet [Ilya Somin, earlier here, etc.]