Posts Tagged ‘land use and zoning’

Oregon steps back from single-family zoning

Catching up on a story from last summer we somehow never linked: Oregon has become the first state to do away with single-family zoning in larger cities. Building single-family homes will remain perfectly legal, but localities with populations above 10,000 would have to allow property owners to build duplexes as well, while those with populations above 25,000 will also have to permit triplexes, fourplexes and “cottage clusters.” [Elliot Njus, The Oregonian, Christian Britschgi/Reason, Ilya Somin]

Tougher regulation of homebuilding makes developers more powerful

“Making big developers ‘give back’ to the community by running a gauntlet of concessions and fees seems like it should weaken their clout. Here’s why it actually does the opposite.” [Daniel Herriges, Strong Towns via Arnold Kling]

Alas, “the number of veto points over new construction is increasing,” reports Tyler Cowen on a new NBER paper. From the abstract: “the housing bust [after 2006] …did not lead any major market that previously was highly regulated to reverse course and deregulate [building] to any significant extent. Moreover, regulation in most large coastal markets increased over time.” [Joseph Gyourko, Jonathan Hartley, Jacob Krimmel, National Bureau of Economics Research via Marginal Revolution]

Public health roundup

  • After a crackdown on saloon drinking backed by Theodore Roosevelt and others, creative New Yorkers opened 1500 new “hotels” and complied with rules linking alcohol to food by serving desiccated sandwiches meant not to be eaten [Darrell Hartman, Atlas Obscura on Raines Law]
  • “‘The evidence is very, very strong that there’s a powerful potential health benefit if you can’t get people to quit entirely, to get them to switch from cigarette smoking to vaping,’ Olson said.” [Scott McClallen, Center Square] Here comes Massachusetts to make things worse [Jeffrey Singer]
  • If you suppose that transcontinental air travel is worsening the risk of global pandemics, then you may suppose erroneously [Johan Norberg “Dead Wrong” video]
  • Zoning will not bring slimness: “Fast-Food Bans Are a Dumb Idea That Won’t Die” [Baylen Linnekin] Having a supermarket enter a food desert has at best a minor effect on healthy eating [Hunt Allcott et al., Quarterly Journal of Economics, earlier]
  • The imperialism of public health: wealth inequality, affordable housing declared topics for action by the public health profession [Petrie-Flom]
  • “From the 1910s through the 1950s, and in some places into the 1960s and 1970s, tens of thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — of American women were detained and forcibly examined for STIs…. If the women tested positive, U.S. officials locked them away in penal institutions with no due process….. During World War II, the American Civil Liberties Union not only failed to oppose the Plan; its founder, Roger Baldwin, sent a memorandum encouraging its local branches to cooperate with officials enforcing it.” [Scott W. Stern, History.com]
  • Public health campaign against arsenic-tainted wells in Bangladesh appears to have inadvertently increased child mortality in places where alternative was surface water, which is more likely to carry microbial contamination [Nina Buchmann, Erica M. Field, Rachel Glennerster, & Reshmaan N. Hussam, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 180]

Competitor’s objection stalls San Francisco falafel shop

Unlike most cities, San Francisco follows a land use practice called “discretionary review,” which “allows anybody to appeal any permit for any reason (or no reason) and force a public hearing in front of the famously arbitrary Planning Commission.” A falafel shop wanted an ordinarily straightforward change of use permit to open in a vacant storefront on Castro Street, but an incumbent gyro shop on the same block filed an objection which will succeed in delaying the opening for months. The whole episode “encapsulates everything wrong with San Francisco’s permitting process.” [Dana Beuschel, Medium] Update: newcomer prevails for now, but maybe because not enough commissioners showed up at the meeting to pronounce a “no.”

Town won’t let owner build on her lot, says it owes $0.00 for taking

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.]

Land use and property roundup

  • 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.]

In suburban Maryland, much ado about ADUs

As population and the job base in the Washington, D.C. area continue to expand, households face a crunch in the price of housing, made worse by the reluctance of local governments to permit residential construction near most of the major employment centers. A unanimous county council in Montgomery County, Md. has now made it slightly easier for homeowners to create in-law units or backyard cottages, but along the way had to face down noisy opposition. I tell the story in a new Cato post.

July 10 roundup

  • Hearse driver in HOV lane to highway patrol: you mean I can’t count the corpse as a passenger? [Michelle Lou, CNN]
  • “Caterpillar Now Going After All The Cats For Trademark Cancellations” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt, earlier]
  • Before trying to open a storefront business in San Francisco you might look to this advice from commercial real estate brokers about the city’s zoning and permit hurdles, and please quit using words like “bonkers” or “flabbergasting” [Robert Fruchtman Twitter thread]
  • “Lawyer engaged in ‘sustained campaign of unfounded litigation,’ disbarment recommendation says” [ABA Journal; Waukegan, Illinois]
  • Breaking from two other federal appeals courts, Third Circuit rules that Amazon as a platform can be sued under strict liability principles over defective items sold by third-party vendors on its site [Brendan Pierson, Reuters] Should the ruling stand, implications for online marketplaces are dire [Eric Goldman]
  • New challenges for Mathew Higbee, high volume copyright enforcement lawyer, and his clients [Paul Alan Levy, more, earlier]