Urban Lawyer


by Frank Schnidman

Frank Schnidman is Chair of the Land Use Institute. He is the former Distinguished Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and former John M. DeGrove Eminent Scholar Chair at the  School of Urban and Regional Planning, Florida Atlantic  University in Boca Raton, Florida. He received his J.D. degree in  1973 and his LL.M. degree in Environmental Law with Highest  Honors in 1975 and has spent more than 30 years dealing with  sophisticated land policy and land use regulatory issues, both as  practicing attorney and an academic.

ON BEHALF OF THE LAND USE INSTITUTE “family” of regular and adjunct faculty, I want to sincerely thank the American Bar Association Section on State and Local Government Law for our new partnership that combines the annual Land Use Institute (LUI) with the Section’s Spring Conference and provides a dedicated issue of The Urban Lawyer for publication of selected LUI presentations.

The Land Use Institute has a long and interesting history of providing quality continuing legal education to the land use planning and legal professions. I have organized and chaired every program for the past thirty-one years and have had the strong faculty support over these years to focus on, as my former co-chair, Professor Gideon Kanner of Loyola University School of Law, Los Angeles, emphasized, “creating take home value for the paying customers.” Below I first provide a history of the evolution of the LUI and then an introduction to the 2017 Program. If I have left anything out or have a factual error in these remarks, please let me know and I will fill in or revise the history accordingly.


The partnership of the American Law Institute and the American Bar Association (ALI-ABA) recognized the need to address the growing land use and environmental legal practice issues of the 1970s. In 1970, Professor Gideon Kanner moved the Eminent Domain CLE Course of Study, a program that Sidney Searles of New York City had started, from the Practising Law Institute to ALI-ABA, and that Course of Study continues to this day. Fred Bosselman of Ross, Hardies, O’Keefe, Babcock & Parsons of Chicago organized and chaired the 1971 Land Use Planning and Regulation of Development ALI-ABA CLE Course of Study at Key Biscayne, Florida. This was, I understand, the first national CLE Land Use Course of Study. Richard Babcock, also of Ross, Hardies, organized and chaired the 1974 Land Use Litigation ALI-ABA CLE Course of Study in Chicago. I attended that Land Use Litigation program in Chicago. The promotional flyer for the 1974 Land Use Litigation Course stated:

Dear Colleague:

Timed and managed growth, down-zoning, population capping, moratoria, exclusionary zoning, mandatory dedication and in-lieu fees — these and other topics will be analyzed on June 7 – 9, 1974, in Chicago from the point of view of a litigator preparing to argue their merits before administrative and judicial tribunals.

Litigation strategies and techniques will be discussed from the points of view of attorneys representing developers, consumers, and various government agencies concerned with land use planning. Ample time will be devoted to answering written questions submitted by those in attendance.

In 1976, Fred Bosselman again organized and chaired the Land Planning and Regulation of Development CLE Course of Study in Washington, D.C., and I served as a member of that Faculty.

In 1977, Richard Babcock asked me to co-chair the Land Use Litigation program with him, and I have been Co-Chair or Chair of a Continuing Legal Education annual land use program since that time. The 1977 program was in Kansas City. Until 1987, Kanner, Bosselman, and Babcock/ Schnidman chaired their individual ALI-ABA CLE Courses of Study. The Land Use Litigation program was held in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boulder, and Coronado. (Note also that for a number of years during this time Professor Donald Hagman of the University of California Los Angeles School of Law organized and chaired, until his accidental death in 1982, the Compensation Issue ALI-ABA CLE Course of Study. I had the honor of being a repeat Faculty Member for that Course of Study.)

In 1987, after the retirement of Richard Babcock, and because Kanner, Bosselman, and I were duplicating a number of Faculty members, I suggested and they and ALI-ABA agreed to merge the three courses into the Land Use Institute. The first Land Use Institute was held in Reno, Nevada. For the next three years until 1990, when Bosselman retired from law practice, I co-chaired the Land Use Institute with Kanner and Bosselman, and then with just Kanner, and then when he retired in 2014, with Dean Patty Salkin of Touro Law School, who soon thereafter became Provost for the Graduate and Professional Division of Touro College. Note that a few years after the merger of all three ALI-ABA CLE Courses of Study, and in response to participants’ requests for greater coverage of Eminent Domain, Professor Kanner again organized and chaired a separate Eminent Domain CLE Course of Study, while still serving as Co-Chair of the LUI. Also, during this time ALI-ABA held a number of special topic televised programs and webinars.

When the ALI and the ABA split their CLE partnership, the Land Use Institute stayed with ALI until 2015. During these years, the Land Use institute was held in Reno, Coronado, San Francisco, Boulder, Seattle, Disney World, Boston, Santa Fe, Chicago, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. — with a number of repeat cities.

In 2015, the ALI announced that it was terminating support for a number of its CLE Courses of Study, including the Land Use Institute. Negotiations began with the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, and after much appreciated effort by many ABA staff and Section members, the Land Use Institute was held in 2017 in Miami. The 2018 Land Use Institute was in Detroit, Michigan, April 19 – 20, and a forthcoming volume of The Urban Lawyer will be dedicated to selected presentations from that program. The 2019 Land Use Institute will be held April 11 – 12, 2019, in Baltimore, Maryland.

The 2017 Land Use Institute

As part of the Mid-Year Meeting of the American Bar Association in Miami, Florida, the Section of State and Local Government Law sponsored the 31st Land Use Institute, February 1 – 2, at the Akerman Conference Center in Brickell City Centre.

The 2017 program was designed for attorneys, professional planners, and government officials involved in land use planning, zoning, permitting, property development, conservation and environmental protection, and related litigation. It not only addressed and analyzed the state-of-the-art efforts by government to manage land use and development, but also presented the key issues faced by property owners and developers in obtaining necessary governmental approvals.

The Land Use Institute is recognized as one of the best land use continuing education programs in the United States, and in 2017 it brought together faculty from nine states and the District of Columbia, experts in their respective fields, who not only covered state-specific issues, but also overviewed the state of the law and the challenges faced by attorneys nationwide as they represent their clients in various entitlement and environmental matters.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum, 2017 Chair on the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, opened the LUI with the statement that “This program not only provides great ‘take home value,’ but also provides the networking opportunity that creates professional friendships and client development opportunities.”

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado welcomed the attorneys and planners to the City of Miami, and Kieran Bowers, President of Swire Properties, welcomed them to Brickell City Centre. Brickell City Centre is recognized as one of the most outstanding mixed use urban development projects in America — a fitting venue for land use planners and attorneys. Following the first day of sessions, participants toured the Brickell City Centre development. For additional information, see http://brickellcitycentreconnect.com/.

The LUI began with a Wednesday, February 1, afternoon panel discussion of recent court decisions, providing a common foundation for all registrants to build a better understanding of the current state of land use law. The afternoon session concluded with two hours of ethics and professionalism instruction. The session was an update of key issues facing practitioners. As mentioned, the day ended with a guided tour of Brickell City Centre.

Recognizing that the federal government continues to encroach upon local government decision-making through a variety of policies and programs, Thursday morning, February 2, began with a session examining major current issues as they relate to environmental protection and real estate development at the local level.

Next was the Richard F. Babcock Faculty Keynote Address. Babcock was one of the twentieth century’s greatest land use attorneys, and as stated in the “History” discussion above, the first chair of the predecessor program to the Land Use Institute. In his honor, each year a selected faculty member presents a major address on a topic of substantial current interest. Faculty member and California attorney/ planner Deborah Rosenthal presented, “From the Ground Up: Unshared Assumptions in Law and Planning.” As a planner and an attorney, she has had extensive experience integrating both backgrounds to assist clients resolve complicated regulatory challenges. This issue of The Urban Lawyer begins with her Keynote presentation.

During the lunch break there were two special networking opportunities — one a separate “Women in the Law” luncheon, and the other a separate “Young Practitioners” luncheon.

Then, in response to registrants’ requests for the opportunity to examine current issues in greater detail, Thursday afternoon included two sets of concurrent sessions and a plenary final session. The afternoon provided a detailed analysis covering both “hot topics” and traditional critical practice areas.

Topics included:

  • Nuts and Bolts of Land Use Practice: Vested Rights and Regulatory Takings: Where Are We Now?
  • Public Private Partnerships
  • Climate Change and Resilient Development
  • Nuts and Bolts of Land Use Practice: Client Representation-Developer, Government and Citizen Groups
  • Regulating Navigable Airspace: The Drones Are Here
  • Housing Supply and Affordability: Planning Alternatives and Legal Consequences

Then, the final plenary session reviewed Hot Topics in Addressing Disparity, with presentations on Community Benefits Agreements, Access to Housing, and Environmental Justice. The Environmental Justice presentation by Benjamin F. Wilson, Managing Partner of Beveridge & Diamond in Washington, D.C., “It’s Not ‘Just’ Zoning: Environmental Justice and Land Use,” is the final article to appear in this issue.

There are seven other articles in this issue dedicated to the 2017 Land Use Institute, and space would not allow inclusion of all of the presentations. However, the full detailed program course materials can be viewed and downloaded at http://americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/cle/materials/2017/02/ce1702lui.pdf.

Again, the Land Use Institute “family” of regular and adjunct faculty is pleased to partner with the ABA Section on State and Local Government Law, and we hope that you will join us for the 2019 Course of Study in Baltimore, Maryland, April 11 – 12, 2019.