Posts Tagged ‘land use and zoning’

Environmental roundup

  • Supreme Court should clarify whether agency has discretion to ignore any and all costs in designating Endangered Species Act habitat [Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer on Cato certiorari amicus in Building Industry Association of the Bay Area v. U.S. Dept. of Commerce]
  • Unanimous decision in Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes is second SCOTUS ruling this year against Environmental Protection Agency, and umpteenth blow to its reputation [Ned Mamula, Cato]
  • Speaking of billionaires with vendettas against speech: Tom Steyer of San Francisco pushes New Hampshire attorney general to join probe of wrongful climate advocacy [Mike Bastasch, Daily Caller, earlier here, etc.]
  • “Modern zoning would have killed off America’s dense cities”: 40% of Manhattan’s buildings couldn’t be built today because they would violate a law [New York Times, Scott Beyer/Forbes]
  • And if anyone should know about tainting it’s them: United Nations human rights bureaucracy probes Flint water contamination [Associated Press]
  • Anti-fossil-fuel demonstrators block rail line and the Associated Press can’t find a single critic to quote [related, Shift Washington]

Environment roundup

  • Clarifying Penn Central: does a government taking property violate Fifth Amendment when it groups together commonly owned parcels in such a way as to avoid an obligation to provide just compensation? [Ilya Shapiro, Ilya Somin on Supreme Court case of Murr v. Wisconsin]
  • How to win NYC real estate cleverest-deal-of-year award: sacrifice floor space to outwit regulation [Alex Tabarrok]
  • Desert delirium: “Phoenix has the cheapest water in the country” [Coyote]
  • If you ban low-quality housing you might discover it was the only housing low-income people could afford [Emily Washington, Market Urbanism]
  • Who’s cheering on/gloating over climate-speech subpoenas? Media Matters, of course, and some others too;
  • “Exhibiting Bias: how politics hijacks science at some museums” [John Tierney, City Journal]
  • Hadn’t realized Karen Hinton, of Chevron-Ecuador suit PR fame, was (now-exiting) flack for NYC Mayor De Blasio [New York Post; Jack Fowler/NRO]

Environment roundup

  • Richard Pipes: “Private Property Sets the Boundary of the State” [Istituto Bruno Leoni video via Arnold Kling and Alberto Mingardi; my 1999 review of Pipes on property]
  • “‘Housing is a human right,’ says [L.A.] group founded for the sole purpose of preventing new housing from being built” [@MarketUrbanism]
  • “EPA Putting Red Light on Amateur Car Racing” [Kenric Ward, Reason]
  • Publicity stunts in our time: “Gov. Rick Snyder target of RICO lawsuit over Flint water crisis” [Flint Journal]
  • Speaking of which: lawsuit “on behalf of the future” in Oregon federal court seeks to represent youth against the federal government and major energy companies [Eugene Register-Guard]
  • Some things to expect as autonomous vehicles take over, including the freeing up of a lot of expensive stuff and space urban areas [Johnny Sanfilippo, Market Urbanism]

Government buys billboards urging more power for government

Billboards in Washington state urging tougher environmental regulations on farmers were funded by (if this still comes as any shock) the federal taxpayers, through a grant program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And that wasn’t disclosed, although by agency rule it was supposed to be. [Don Jenkins, Capital Press] A few months ago EPA got caught illegally expending tax money to stir up pressure on Congress to support a wider interpretation of its own powers on the “Waters of the United States” rule. More on advocacy funding here.

Related, from way back in 1999, “Smart Growth at the Federal Trough: EPA’s Financing of the Anti-Sprawl Movement” by Peter Samuel and Randal O’Toole, Cato Policy Analysis #361:

The federal government should not subsidize one side of a public policy debate; doing so undermines the very essence of democracy. Nor should government agencies fund nonprofit organizations that exist primarily to lobby other government agencies. Congress should shut down the federal government’s anti-sprawl lobbying activities and resist the temptation to engage in centralized social engineering.

Liberating the household garage

The advent of ridesharing and driverless cars will make it an even better idea to relax zoning that bars business use of household garages [Nolan Gray, Market Urbanism]

Plus, mobility and freedom: Randal O’Toole joins Trevor Burrus and Tom Clougherty at Cato “for a discussion on land usage, urban planning, public transit, transportation, and driverless cars.” [Libertarianism.org podcast]

Scott Alexander on The Art of the Deal

The Slate Star Codex blogger decided to read, and belatedly review, The Art of the Deal (1988) by real estate developer and now-GOP nomination frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump and his campaign aside, the book affords insights into the legal and regulatory side of the development business. Following a funny description of the role of the real estate developer in coordinating deals, Alexander writes:

…The developer’s other job is dealing with regulations. The way Trump tells it, there are so many regulations on development in New York City in particular and America in general that erecting anything larger than a folding chair requires the full resources of a multibillion dollar company and half the law firms in Manhattan. Once the government grants approval it’s likely to add on new conditions when you’re halfway done building the skyscraper, insist on bizarre provisions that gain it nothing but completely ruin your chance of making a profit, or just stonewall you for the heck of it if you didn’t donate to the right people’s campaigns last year. Reading about the system makes me both grateful and astonished that any structures have ever been erected in the United States at all, and somewhat worried that if anything ever happens to Donald Trump and a few of his close friends, the country will lose the ability to legally construct artificial shelter and we will all have to go back to living in caves.

But if you are waiting for new proposals from Trump about reforming regulation, you might need to go on waiting:

Here is a guy whose job is cutting through bureaucracy, and who is apparently quite good at it. Yet throughout the book – and for that matter, throughout his campaign for the nomination of a party that makes cutting bureaucracy a big part of their platform – he doesn’t devote a lot of energy to expressing discontent with the system. There is no libertarian streak to Trump – in the process of successfully navigating all of these terrible rules, he rarely takes a step back and wonders about a better world where these rules don’t exist. Despite having way more ability to change the system than most people, he seems to regard it as a given, not worth debating. … the rules are there; his job is to make the best deal he can within those rules.

Free speech roundup

  • “And Hansel and Gretel (children!) kill their captor by baking her in an oven.” — Scalia, J., noting the commonness of violence in youthful entertainment over the centuries, in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (2005), his landmark opinion confirming full First Amendment protection for videogames as works of expression [Jim Copland/City Journal, Owen Good/Polygon; contrasting Hillary Clinton position]
  • Scalia made crucial fifth vote for many First Amendment liberties. Which ones are safe now? [Ronald Collins first, second posts]
  • Wisconsin redux? Montana ethics official targets political adversaries with subpoenas [Will Swaim, Reason]
  • Goaded by governments, Facebook now has big program in Europe “finding and then removing comments that promote xenophobia.” [Independent, U.K.] Sad to see Israeli official backing legal curbs on freedom of social media [Times of Israel]
  • “Flemming Rose talks about the decision to publish 12 cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.” [“Free Thoughts” podcast with Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus, Cato’s Libertarianism.org]
  • 2016 workplan from ACLU doesn’t include free speech as a main concern, and some aren’t surprised by that [Ronald Collins]
  • “Appeals Court Tells City It Can’t Use Its Terribly-Written Zoning Laws To Censor Speech” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt; Fourth Circuit, Norfolk, Va.]

Environment roundup

  • Remembering William Tucker, author of books on many subjects including the 1982 classic on environmentalism, Progress and Privilege, and a valued friend of long standing [RealClearEnergy, where he was founding editor]
  • Scalia took lead in defending property rights vs. regulatory takings, but mostly not by deploying originalist analysis. A missed opportunity, thinks Ilya Somin;
  • What? Children in parts of Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, etc. have higher blood lead levels than in Flint [Detroit News] Flint water department didn’t use standard $150/day neutralizing treatment. Why not? [Nolan Finley, Detroit News] Children in Michigan generally ten years ago had higher prevalence of lead in blood at concern thresholds than children in Flint today [David Mastio, USA Today] Earlier here and here;
  • On eminent domain, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz seem to be “talking past each other, about two different things” [Gideon Kanner]
  • Saboteurs going after Canadian pipelines [CBC]
  • “Mission or Craftsman style” was insisted on, but the resulting vacant lot doesn’t seem to be either: south L.A. grocery scheme dies after decade-long urban-planning fight [Los Angeles Times]
  • As prices plunge: “Where Have All the Peak Oilers Gone?” [Ronald Bailey, Reason]

Environment roundup