Category Archives: Development (and Law)

New Book: The Long Land War

LLWNew Book: Jo Guldi, The Long Land War: The Global Struggle for Occupancy Rights (2022). Overview below:

A definitive history of ideas about land redistribution, allied political movements, and their varied consequences around the world

“An epic work of breathtaking scope and moral power, The Long Land War offers the definitive account of the rise and fall of land rights around the world over the last 150 years.” —Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Jo Guldi tells the story of a global struggle to bring food, water, and shelter to all. Land is shown to be a central motor of politics in the twentieth century: the basis of movements for giving reparations to formerly colonized people, protests to limit the rent paid by urban tenants, intellectual battles among development analysts, and the capture of land by squatters taking matters into their own hands. The book describes the results of state-engineered “land reform” policies beginning in Ireland in 1881 until U.S.-led interests and the World Bank effectively killed them off in 1974.

The Long Land War provides a definitive narrative of land redistribution alongside an unflinching critique of its failures, set against the background of the rise and fall of nationalism, communism, internationalism, information technology, and free-market economics. In considering how we could make the earth livable for all, she works out the important relationship between property ownership and justice on a changing planet.

-Editor’s Note: I just finished reading a number of chapters of the book and can recommend this book as a book that will force you to think though things even though I don’t think readers will necessarily agree with all of the book’s arguments or sources of content given the ambitions of the book. In other words, it is interesting with lots of things that U.S. readers will likely find as “new” and worth thinking through even if there are parts of the book that annoyed me–for being too dogmatic/one-sided–as well.

New Article: He Tore Down Motels Where Poor Residents Lived During a Housing Crisis. City Leaders Did Nothing

New Article: Anjeanette Damon, He Tore Down Motels Where Poor Residents Lived During a Housing Crisis. City Leaders Did Nothing, ProPublica (2021). Description Below:

Reno, Nevada, has one of the worst affordable housing shortages in the U.S. Yet city officials let an out-of-state casino owner displace hundreds of low-income residents so he could one day build an entertainment complex.

New Article: A Rebirth in the Bronx: Is This How to Save Public Housing?

New Article: Michael Kimmelman, A Rebirth in the Bronx: Is This How to Save Public Housing?, N.Y. Times (Aug. 5, 2021),

The Baychester Houses have been brightly refurbished using a federal program that could help fix America’s ailing subsidized housing situation.

New Article: “Black Transit: When Public Transportation Decision-Making Leads to Negative Economic Development”

New Article: Audrey McFarlane, Black Transit: When Public Transportation Decision-Making Leads to Negative Economic Development, forthcoming Iowa L. Rev. Abstract below:

In 2015, the Governor of Maryland cancelled a light rail project planned for Baltimore City. Around that time, governors in five states had also cancelled federally funded, mass transit rail projects. Each cancellation was similarly justified by claims that the transportation projects were unwise and unnecessary. This trend is concerning because public transportation is often crucial to low- and moderate-income people. The cancellations raise the question whether there should be some circumstances when a state should not be able to cancel transportation projects. The federal framework for public transportation funding allows seemingly unfettered discretion to cancel, while not acknowledging the perverse incentives that now exist to refuse funding for projects perceived as beneficial to stigmatized racial and class groups. Most strikingly, principles of development worked in reverse. Instead of pursuing economic development through guaranteed infrastructure investment and the multiplier potential of construction jobs and transit-oriented development likely to take place, the state decided to reject development under a rationale that such investment would be wasteful. This Essay argues that there is room in the federalism logic of the Spending Clause to ex ante consider pervasive and systemic racial hostility to public transportation and a discriminatory exercise of discretion. Federal mass transportation decision-making should be structured in a way that accounts for the pervasive, consistent, and structural hostility to Black mobility and projects perceived to benefit Black people. Because mobility is crucial to self-determination, economic survival and flourishing, the veto of rail projects like Baltimore’s Red Line is an opportunity to consider the limitations of ex post racial remedies such as the equity-infused planning framework and Title VI disparate impact litigation. The Essay considers how racial equity and racial realism principles can inform the obligations of federal public transportation funding decision-making.

New Article: Opportunism Zones

Edward W. De Barbieri, Opportunism Zones, 39 Yale L. & Pol’y (forthcoming 2021). Abstract below:

In 2017, Congress adopted the Opportunity Zone, an unheralded yet powerful place-based economic development tool, as part of tax re-form. Place-based economic development tools and strategies provide incentives to attract jobs and capital to areas where jobs and capital have fled. Investors in state-designated Opportunity Zone districts are able to (1) defer capital gains on qualified investments, and (2) reduce their tax bills when selling qualifying real estate or business property. Proponents of the bipartisan Opportunity Zone argue that tax incentives are an efficient way to direct investment dollars to poor areas. Critics, however, point out that such government interventions in the economy are stricken by corruption, abuse, and waste.

This Article analyzes and critiques the Opportunity Zone, and argues that compared to other place-based economic development tools implemented through law it is an extreme and potentially frightening approach. I identify three key aspects—use, transparency, and participation—which focus my analysis on the extent to which Opportunity Zones may in fact harm the areas they are supposed to benefit. There are prudent reasons to be skeptical of the benefits of the Opportunity Zone, especially considering their potential to widen and increase wealth and in-come inequality.

I argue that place-based economic development strategies are not necessarily to blame. Rather, it is the Opportunity Zone, a tool to benefit investors and existing landowners, that needs reform, or elimination. I explore proposals to restructure the Opportunity Zone that limit the uses of invested funds, improve transparency to assess meaningful outcomes, and involve stakeholder groups through participation.

New Article: Lawyering Close to Home

New Article: Julia Hernandez, Lawyering Close to Home, 27 Clinical Law Review 131 (2020).

This essay incorporates ethnographic insights and narrative technique, rooted in part in Critical Race Theory and critical geography studies, to ground conversations about transformative pedagogy and praxis in the lived experiences of our students. Many of our students fight for radical social change and enter law school hoping to gain new tools for that mission. Increasingly, students are uniquely situated and motivated to engage in rebellious law practice, yet, fault lines in legal education create heightened challenges for some students with negative formative experiences with the state. Drawing from the work of Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres, this essay introduces the idea of authoritative interpretive communities in the law school classroom while addressing the unique world of legal practice for students working in areas in which they have personal experience. This essay specifically calls for disruptive innovations in lawyering in the family regulation system. Finally, it advances ideas for transforming legal education to better address the realities of race-class marginalized students so that they may participate—on their own terms—in today’s struggles for radical social change.

New Report: Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains

New Report: Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains, World Bank Group Flagship Report (2020) (https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2020).

Overview follows:

Global value chains (GVCs) powered the surge of international trade after 1990 and now account for almost half of all trade. This shift enabled an unprecedented economic convergence: poor countries grew rapidly and began to catch up with richer countries. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, however, the growth of trade has been sluggish and the expansion of GVCs has stalled. Meanwhile, serious threats have emerged to the model of trade-led growth. New technologies could draw production closer to the consumer and reduce the demand for labor. And conflicts among large countries could lead to a retrenchment or a segmentation of GVCs. The World Development Report (WDR) 2020: Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains examines whether there is still a path to development through GVCs and trade. It concludes that technological change is at this stage more a boon than a curse. GVCs can continue to boost growth, create better jobs, and reduce poverty provided that developing countries implement deeper reforms to promote GVC participation, industrial countries pursue open, predictable policies, and all countries revive multilateral cooperation.

New Article: Returns to Community Lending

New Article: Indraneel Chakraborty, et. al, Returns to Community Lending, available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3353786.  Abstract below:

For forty years, at a large scale, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has encouraged U.S. banks to lend to lower income neighborhoods. We estimate costs and benefits of providing incentives to privately-owned banks to reduce poverty. Regarding costs, to comply with CRA, rather than lend more overall, banks perfectly substitute away from small business lending to other income groups. Regarding benefits, 0.5% of the population is lifted out of poverty per year through the CRA small-business lending channel. The incidence of the act is on smaller banks who lend more and face higher loan losses. Large banks show no effects.

New Blog Post: How ‘Heartland Visas’ Could Reduce Geographic Inequality

heartland visas.jpgNew Blog Post: Richard Florida, How ‘Heartland Visas’ Could Reduce Geographic Inequality, CityLab.com, Apr. 11, 2019.

New Article: Legal Obstacles to Affordable Housing Development

New Article: Ali Foyt, Legal Obstacles to Affordable Housing Development, 56 Houston L. Rev. (2018).  Abstract below:

A nationwide housing shortage creates persistent housing affordability challenges for American households. As things stand today, the nation’s current market-based policies in the private housing sector threaten to undermine efforts by affordable housing developers. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (“LIHTC”) program and related housing law can—and should—be modified to allow developers to respond to systemic economic shortcomings in the housing market. This Comment explores the historical efforts by Congress and, more recently, the 2017 Tax and Jobs Cuts Act, that address, or fail to address, this severe housing shortage. By framing the obstacles faced by affordable housing developers in the context of recent changes in the tax code, this Comment aims to highlight areas where reform is desperately needed to adequately respond to America’s affordable housing crisis.