Land Use

Are Pandemics An Argument Against Cities?

COVID-19 spread shows governance matters more than density

With the COVID-19 virus shutting down cities and countries all over the world, anti-urban advocates are seizing the moment to argue that pandemics prove urban density is bad. For example, longtime sprawl booster Joel Kotkin argues that shelter-in-place orders and fear of contagion will push people to demand more lower-density homes, far from crowded and …

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California’s New Housing Bill Seeks To End Single-Family Zoning

Sen. Wiener introduces SB 902 to increase suburban density & streamline transit-oriented housing

Sen. Scott Wiener is back trying to boost California housing production again, after his SB 50 legislation to upzone for apartments around transit died in the State Senate in January. This time, he’s proposing a “lighter touch” approach, salvaging an SB 50 provision that would end single-family zoning across the state. Senate Bill 902 would …

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Tracing Trump’s Trillion Trees

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The president’s embrace of massive tree planting has a remarkable — and questionable — backstory

During last week’s State of the Union address, US President Donald Trump said: To protect the environment, days ago I announced that the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative, an ambitious effort to bring together government and private sector to plant new trees in America and all around the world. Astute regular …

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BREAKING: SB 50 Voted Down By State Senators Representing Affluent Suburbs

Final vote today kills major climate-land use legislation to legalize apartments near transit

The California State Senate this morning (after an initial vote last night) narrowly and finally voted to kill SB 50, a major climate-land use bill that would have allowed apartment buildings near major transit stops and job centers, as well as fourplex conversions statewide. Despite high-profile opposition from some low-income tenants groups, the senators voting …

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The Bleak California Housing Picture By Numbers

Key recent studies and data can inform the legislative debate

As the debate over SB 50 and other state legislative efforts to boost California’s housing supply heats up, it’s worth reviewing some of the data about how dire the housing situation is in the state. Here are some tidbits: High Home Prices and Rents: According to the California Legislative Analysts Office, the average California home …

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The Real Lesson From Madrid’s Failed Climate Conference? Spain’s Success On Urban Quality of Life & Carbon Emissions

Southern European nation excels at walkability, reduced emissions & resident happiness

The UN climate conference in Madrid last month may have ended poorly, but conference attendees had a big success story right in front of them in the host country. Spain’s success achieving efficient – and enjoyable – land use and transportation outcomes is a model other countries and states should emulate to address climate change. …

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California’s Major Housing Bill, Take 3: New Amendments Announced For Local Flexibility

Will Governor Newsom now put his weight behind Sen. Wiener’s SB 50?

California State Senator Scott Wiener launched his third legislative attempt today at boosting California’s housing supply. SB 50 aims to address the state’s massive housing shortage, which has resulted in high home prices and rents, gentrification, displacement, inequality, homelessness, and a mass middle-class exodus to high-emission states like Texas and Arizona. Because this housing undersupply …

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An Oil and Gas Setback in Los Angeles Would Not Create Billions in Liability

A recent report from the Petroleum Administrator relied on incorrect and incomplete legal assumptions about the City’s potential liability to oil and gas operators. Here’s why it matters.

This week, Sean Hecht and I (in our capacity as attorneys in the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA School of Law) sent a letter on behalf of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust to Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, and the Los Angeles City Council. (Our letter built …

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Making It Work: Administrative Reform of California’s Housing Framework

How recent legislative changes have been the state greater power to enable prohousing policies

This blog post is coauthored by Chris Elmendorf, Eric Biber, Paavo Monkkonen, and Moira O’Neill. As California’s housing crisis swirls through the national news, attention has focused on statewide upzoning bills. Sen. Scott Wiener’s ballyhooed effort to allow 4-5 story buildings near transit was tabled until 2020, but earlier this fall the legislature effectively terminated …

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How Does Increasing Wildfire Risk Affect Insurance in California?

Affordability and Availability of Wildfire Insurance Are Less Stable Under Changing Conditions

(This post is part of a series on the issue of climate change and insurance that my colleague Ted Lamm and I are writing, inspired by a symposium that the law schools co-organized with the California Department of Insurance earlier this year. You can find more information on the symposium here. Ted’s prior related post …

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