Posts Tagged ‘real estate’

Investigative series: NYC home seizures

Kings County Politics investigates a series of cases in which New York City has seized the properties of Brooklyn homeowners after procedurally or substantively dubious findings of distressed condition or tax/water arrears. In some cases the city then hands the property over to politically connected developers. “Public Advocate Letitia James [has] called for a temporary freeze of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD) Third-Party Transfer (TPT) program” to address the concerns. [Stephen Witt and Kelly Mena, Kings County Politics]

Mississippi: drawing digital lines on satellite map requires surveyor’s license

The state of Mississippi insists that a company called Vizaline, by selling a program that uses satellite imagery to translate “metes and bounds” language into polygonal lines on a map, is practicing land surveying without a license, and should be made to shut down and refund all money it has earned in the state. Attorneys from the Institute for Justice say that virtual land measurement is not only not part of an occupation subject to licensure, but is a form of expression and communication and subject to First Amendment protections. [Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica]

Land use and development roundup

NYC: 5Pointz building owner must pay graffiti artists

To quote John K. Ross’s summary for Short Circuit:

In 2002, owner of dilapidated industrial property in Queens, N.Y. entrusts its care to a group of artists, who improve its condition and cover it in graffiti, turning it into a tourist attraction and cultural site. In 2013, the owner, who plans to demolish the warehouses and build luxury condos, whitewashes over the art. District court: Which violated the Visual Artists Rights Act; pay $6.75 mil in damages to 21 artists. If the owner had waited a few more months while he got his building permits in order, he’d have been assessed a far more modest penalty.

More: Alan Feuer, New York Times, ABA Journal. More on the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 here.

Environment roundup

November 15 roundup

HOA mailbox spat turns into three-year court battle

“Abby and Jonathan Weber bought their daughter Mollie a mailbox inspired by Tigger, the colorful character from the Winnie the Pooh stories….You know who didn’t appreciate the Tigger mailbox? Members of the Laurel Oaks Homeowners Association that oversees the Bucks County neighborhood that the Webers call home.” Now, three years of litigation later… [Brian Hickey, Philly Voice]

“Zoning, Land-Use Planning, and Housing Affordability”

New Cato Policy Analysis by Vanessa Brown Calder, here is the executive summary:

Local zoning and land-use regulations have increased substantially over the decades. These constraints on land development within cities and suburbs aim to achieve various safety, environmental, and aesthetic goals. But the regulations have also tended to reduce the supply of housing, including multifamily and low-income housing. With reduced supply, many U.S. cities suffer from housing affordability problems.

This study uses regression analysis to examine the link between housing prices and zoning and land-use controls. State and local governments across the country impose substantially different amounts of regulation on land development. The study uses a data set of court decisions on land use and zoning that captures the growth in regulation over time and the large variability between the states. The statistical results show that rising land-use regulation is associated with rising real average home prices in 44 states and that rising zoning regulation is associated with rising real average home prices in 36 states. In general, the states that have increased the amount of rules and restrictions on land use the most have higher housing prices.

The federal government spent almost $200 billion to subsidize renting and buying homes in 2015. These subsidies treat a symptom of the underlying problem. But the results of this study indicate that state and local governments can tackle housing affordability problems directly by overhauling their development rules. For example, housing is much more expensive in the Northeast than in the Southeast, and that difference is partly explained by more regulation in the former region. Interestingly, the data show that relatively more federal housing aid flows to states with more restrictive zoning and land-use rules, perhaps because those states have higher housing costs. Federal aid thus creates a disincentive for the states to solve their own housing affordability problems by reducing regulation.

Related: finding common ground between Cato and the Urban Institute on land use regulation [Vanessa Brown Calder and Rolf Pendall; Calder; James Rogers] “California Tries To Fix Housing Affordability Crisis By Making Housing More Expensive” [Christian Britschgi, Reason]

October 18 roundup

  • Research by Todd Henderson et al. suggests that lawyers may often do well as CEOs, and anticipating and reducing litigation risk may be a key mechanism [Stephen Bainbridge]
  • Canada: Couple sues neighbors for $2.5 million for copying their house’s architecture [Rain Noe, Core77]
  • Abraham Lincoln on public choice and the aligning of interest with ethical duty [David Henderson]
  • Redistricting, Anne Arundel county executive allies with trial lawyers to file opioids suit, Baltimore police, Montgomery County minimum wage in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
  • Black smokers in the U.S. are more likely than whites to prefer menthol, and prohibitionists frame foiling their wishes as a matter of racial justice [Christian Britschgi]
  • Here come the trustbusting conservatives back again, no more convincing this time around [Steven Greenhut]