Of most interest for our purposes for the criminal-law consequences: “’Classic resolution of a lawsuit before it’s filed,’ he told the jury. But the argument didn’t fly: in the end, the jury returned with a unanimous verdict … of extortion.” [Mark Seal, Vanity Fair]
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]
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]
Home-stealing through the filing of false deeds and other legal documents is a problem that goes way back in Philadelphia. And it’s still happening. Ask Tonya Bell, who went to City Hall three years ago and found that she had been declared dead, and that someone else had taken possession of an empty house she owned. [Craig R. McCoy, Philadelphia Daily News]
- Bay Area, L.A., and D.C. area should take an affordable housing lesson from cities that build: “Houston, Dallas, and NYC: America’s Great 3-Way Housing Supply Race.” [Scott Beyer]
- All things bright and beautiful/All creatures great and small/All things wise and wonderful/The Commerce Clause reaches ’em all [John-Michael Seibler, Heritage, on Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Tenth Circuit decision upholding as constitutional federal rules requiring owners to preserve Utah prairie dog habitat on private land; earlier on PETPO v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service here, here, and here] Photo: Wikimedia Commons;
- WSJ editorial takes dim view of Louisiana coastal erosion suit against oil firms, earlier here, here, here, here, here, and here;
- “You’re Not a Progressive If You’re Also a NIMBY” [Robert Gammon, East Bay Express] “Density Is How the Working Poor Outbid the Rich for Urban Land” [Nolan Gray, Market Urbanism] “The absence of gentrification causes displacement” [Michael Lewyn, same]
- “Let’s Make America a Mineral Superpower” [Stephen Moore and Ned Mamula, Bakersfield.com/Cato]
- Backing off from a bad law: Washington, D.C. considers ending tenant purchase rights for single-family homes [Carolyn Gallaher, Greater Greater Washington]
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.
- Getting deserved attention: blog post on hundred little regulatory obstacles that can block piecemeal redevelopment of commercial space [Johnny at Granola Shotgun via John Cochrane and Tyler Cowen]
- Suit that asserted legal personhood for Colorado River: a good case for sanctions? [Greg Herbers/WLF, Marianne Goodland, Colorado Springs Gazette]
- Large U.S. farm study finds no cancer link to Monsanto glyphosate (Roundup) weedkiller, state of California take note [Kate Kelland, Reuters, earlier here, here]
- Federalist Society video of address by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt at last month’s convention;
- Prince George’s County, Md., in the Washington suburbs, is considering a return to the practice of letting county council second-guess development approvals. Bad policy and corruption risk alike [David Whitehead and Bradley Heard, Greater Greater Washington]
- “Claims for unconstitutional takings of property against state actors should not be treated differently than other fundamental rights claims and relegated to second-class status.” [Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and Meggan DeWitt, Cato on Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania]
- “A Link Between Alcohol and Cancer? It’s Not Nearly as Scary as It Seems” [Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times; Ronald Bailey]
- Court rejects “sovereign citizen” pitch on behalf of disgraced Subway pitchman Jared Fogle [Matt Reynolds, Courthouse News]
- I’m quoted on U.S. Senate’s Roy Moore perplex [Matt Kwong, CBC] And my Twitter thread on the signed yearbook that figures in Monday’s allegations went viral;
- Time to end it: “Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Costly, Complex, and Corruption-Prone” [Chris Edwards and Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]
- “When Statutes Conflict, Agencies Shouldn’t Get to Pick Which One They Like More” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato on Cato certiorari amicus in Chevron deference case of Perez-Guzman v. Sessions]
- “More Lawyers or More Justice?” Mark Pulliam reviews Barton and Bibas’s Rebooting Justice, earlier here and here]
“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]
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]