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Years before the mortgage crisis fueled by subprime and predatory lending became a national crisis in 2008, this emerging disaster was ravaging neighborhoods in Cleveland, Ohio. Investigations that followed revealed that homeowners were being persuaded to refinance their mortgages and often to finance home repairs and amenities through predatory lending, including adjustable rate mortgages with initial low interest rates (“teaser loans”). The Cleveland neighborhood of Slavic Village was especially hard hit, with massive amounts of mortgage fraud followed by hundreds of foreclosures of borrowers resulting in housing abandonment and widespread blight. Despite these discouraging data, the three examples of responses described in this article give hope that the challenges caused by this crisis can be met and the city’s neighborhoods can be rebuilt even with a reduced population and reconfigured land uses.
Charter schools are an important and growing part of the nonprofit sector but the financial accountability and governance of the schools have received little attention from regulators or scholars. The goal of this article is not to enter the debate over the educational value of charter schools. The goal is to focus on the potential problems with finances of charter schools, which are situated within the larger debate over governance of nonprofit corporations. The related organization and its school often have overlapping boards and often share facilities. These intertwining relationships raise questions about the independence of charter school boards and key administrators, questions that need more attention from scholars. Part II of this article uses the literature of nonprofit corporate governance to analyze the governance issues of charter schools. Part III explores the financial issues raised in the publically available documents produced by the array of charter schools in Philadelphia as a case study that illustrates the governance problems addressed in Part II. Part IV considers the proposals on the state level for accountability reform. Part V proposes increased funding for oversight, more nuanced tools, elimination of the limitation on state facilities reimbursement, greater transparency by the charter schools, and greater emphasis on board training.
The purpose of this article is to ascertain whether (1) suburban sprawl is as widespread in Canadian metropolitan areas as in their American counterparts, and (2) Canadian government policies, and in particular Canadian zoning law and transportation policies, encourage sprawl. Part I defines sprawl and explains why sprawl is controversial. Part II shows that Canadian metropolitan areas are in fact somewhat less sprawling than most of their American counterparts. Part III demonstrates that in Canada, as in the United States, land use law and government transportation policy favor sprawl. In particular, Part III explains that in both nations highway spending facilitates suburban development, and municipal zoning regulations, by limiting density and forcing landowners to build parking lots, encourage driving and discourage walking and transit ridership. The issues discussed are important because some pro-sprawl theorists have argued that the persistence of suburban growth in Canada (among other affluent nations) shows that sprawl is an inevitable result of affluence, rather than a by-product of pro-sprawl American public policy. By showing that Canadian sprawl is both (a) less extensive than American sprawl and (b) also related to pro-sprawl government policies, this article rebuts that claim.
Across the country, low-income unincorporated communities are struggling to build an authentic future—one that starts with the basic infrastructure that any American expects in a residential neighborhood. Where these communities have been able to grab hold of government’s attention, they face a second, equally daunting challenge. How will local governments fund this future while in the throes of a seemingly interminable fiscal crisis? This article explores how counties have used California’s Community Redevelopment Law as part of the solution to this dilemma. After a short synopsis of research methodology in Part I and the problems facing unincorporated communities in California in Part II, this article’s third part discusses why community redevelopment law applies in the small towns of California’s rural landscape. Part IV puts forward three case studies to illustrate how different counties have used redevelopment. These case studies inform an analysis in Part V of seven different factors that determine the potential risks and benefits of redevelopment for unincorporated communities and regional planners.
“As states dream up budget plans for a new year, some find themselves staring at deficits in the billions of dollars, vanishing federal stimulus funds, mounting health care costs, their own struggling cities and a canyon of underfunded pension liabilities ahead.” This quotation captures in a nutshell the serious problems confronting all public sector attorneys who represent management and labor, or who serve as neutrals. We are at a significant turning point in public sector collective bargaining. It is thus an opportune time to review the rise of public sector collective bargaining, to assess where we are at present, and to take a look at the future of public sector collective bargaining.
In the last twenty years, a cadre of cities and towns across the United States has prohibited or otherwise limited the number of “formula” businesses through use of the local zoning power. Formula businesses, typically franchise outlets, have been targeted not because of their impacts on health or safety, but because they test the soul of the community. This article is intended to serve as a guide to those communities seeking to join the vanguard of the anti-formula business movement. Part I identifies the “laboratory” communities in the battle against formula businesses and the methods they have chosen. Part II explains the relevant calculus of the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine. Part III examines the very few cases in which dormant Commerce doctrine has been used to contest formula business regulations. Finally, Part IV offers some practical considerations for the drafting and implementation of formula business ordinances. The goal of the article is to offer a caution before an ordinance is adopted (and irrevocable mistakes are made), to make officials aware of their constitutional duties, and to inspire an informed debate on the merits of such local legislation.
Historic preservation, or landmarking, is an important community land use management tool for local governments. Landmarking singles out privately owned property for more restrictive treatment than that to which comparable property in the community is subjected. Once a property, a neighborhood, or a district, is landmarked , the community has acquired a heritage stake in that particular property, or collection of properties in the designated neighborhood or district. The government, in effect, makes itself a partner with the legal title holder of the property without purchasing any portion of the fee, and often does so without the approval of the owner. The purpose of this article is to generate critical thought among persons who support and implement landmarking programs and among attorneys who represent clients in designation proceedings. The article attempts to provide practical suggestions for sharpening the focus of designation criteria, enhancing the quality of designation reports, and improving the deliberative process of landmark commissions.