Law

Blog post
March 2, 2015, 6am PST
A recent property professors' conference discussed a variety of issues of possible interest to planners including tightened home lending standards, municipal policies affecting the homeless, the Fair Housing Act, and inclusionary zoning.
Michael Lewyn
February 9, 2013, 11am PST
It's not how complicated or divisive New Urbanist-based land use regulations are that's driving the legal profession nuts. It's the opposite. There just aren't many New Urbanist rulings in the casebook, explains Jonathan Zasloff.
Legal Planet
October 16, 2012, 5am PDT
A New York state law on the books since the 1980s undervalues property tax rates on multimillion dollar residential buildings, providing astonishing discounts to New York City’s wealthiest homeowners.
The New York Times
March 2, 2012, 6am PST
An interview with Tim McOsker, one of the three appointees charged by Governor Jerry Brown to wind down the affairs of the Los Angeles CRA, reveals an insider's experience of the complexities of respecting contracts and mandates.
The Planning Report
October 12, 2010, 1pm PDT
Arizona's long-standing open range laws allow cattle to roam freely, but the state is now reconsidering the laws as residents of the West's suburban subdivisions are growing more frustrated by encounters with roaming cattle.
New York Times
May 14, 2010, 8am PDT
Jackson, New York and several other small upstate towns have entered the immigration wars by passing a law requiring all official town business to be conducted in English.
New York Times
Blog post
December 11, 2009, 5pm PST

The display of yellow ribbons in remembrance of friends and family serving far away goes back hundreds of years. Dr. Gavin Finley has an interesting website on the history. The American Folklore Center at The Library of Congress has more intriguing history and also cites the 1949 John Wayne and Joanne Dru film, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

Dwight Merriam
November 13, 2009, 2pm PST
The 2005 Supreme Court decision on Kelo v. New London was a landmark in eminent domain law, paving the way for Pfizer to develop there. Four years later, Pfizer is pulling up stakes.
The Hartford Courant
November 3, 2009, 8am PST
The ongoing trial of a California driver who allegedly injured two cyclists on purpose has become a rallying point for cyclists around the country, who are hoping the verdict elicits greater respect to cyclists from motorists.
Los Angeles Times
Blog post
November 2, 2009, 2pm PST

"Don't Bogart That Joint, My Friend"

Lyrics: Lawrence Wagner
Music: Elliot Ingber

(on the soundtrack of "Easy Rider")

Chorus
Don't bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me
Don't bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me

Roll another one
Just like the other one
You've been holding on to it
And I sure will like a hit

[chorus]

Roll another one
Just like the other one
That one's burned to the end
Come on and be a real friend

[chorus]

Marijuana is prescribed for certain medical conditions, such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. Since 1996, at least 13 states have legalized the sale of medical marijuana.

Now, check your zoning regulations and see what districts allow this land use: "Retail Sales – Medical Marijuana." Couldn’t find it, right?

Dwight Merriam
Blog post
July 28, 2009, 12pm PDT

The concept of ripeness in several realms is elusive. I have never figured out how to properly thump a melon at a grocery store, although I have made a thorough study of it. You might want to click here, or here, or here for some guidance, none of which seems to work when it’s just me in a stare down with a cold, stone faced and silent honeydew.

Just yesterday one of my younger children from what we call the “second litter” asked me at dinner how I could tell if a coconut was ripe. I paused, realized that I had no answer, and did what every good parent should do and asked instead why they weren’t eating their salad. Yes, attack and divert.

You think melons and coconuts are tough — try ripeness in land use litigation.

Dwight Merriam
Blog post
July 21, 2009, 2pm PDT

The unstoppable force paradox is an exercise in logic that seems to come up in the law all too often. There is a Chinese variant. The Chinese word for “paradox” is literally translated as “spear-shield” coming from a story in a Third Century B.C. philosophy book, Han Fiez, about a man selling a sword he claimed could pierce any shield. He also was trying to sell a shield, which he said could resist any sword. He was asked the obvious question and could give no answer.

The Washington Supreme Court broke the paradox between a 12-month moratorium during which the City of Woodinville considered sustainable development regulations for its R-1 residential area, and the efforts by the Northshore United Church of Christ (Northshore Church) to host a movable encampment for homeless people on its R-1 property. City of Woodinville v. Northshore United Church of Christ (July 16, 2009).

Dwight Merriam
July 20, 2009, 7am PDT
Legislators in Oregon are making moves to allow residents to reuse graywater.
The Statesman Journal
Blog post
July 17, 2009, 7am PDT

According to the Washington Post, 62% of Americans think Sonia Sotomayor should be confirmed for the U.S Supreme Court because she is “about right” ideologically. The question is, how good will she be for municipal attorneys?

Dwight Merriam
Blog post
July 4, 2008, 12pm PDT
Last week marked the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kelo v. New London. The first time I read Kelo, I thought what many Americans probably thought: that any government could seize property for any reason, so long as it compensated prior owners.

But after having taught Kelo to law students several times over the past few years, I now realize that Kelo is much more complex. Kelo was a 5-4 decision, and Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a separate concurrence. Because Justice Kennedy was the “swing vote”, his decision predicts future Court decisionmaking more accurately than the Court’s primary opinion, because a taking which fails to satisfy Kennedy might not be able to get five votes in the Supreme Court.
Michael Lewyn