At Lincoln House

The Weblog of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

April 17, 2015

Lincoln Institute at APA's National Planning Conference in Seattle

     Preparing for the impacts of climate change, regeneration in Legacy Cities, and the expanding use of scenario planning tools will be among the topics explored by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy at the  American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in Seattle April 17-22, 2015.
     The Lincoln Institute’s latest book, Planning for States and Nation-States in the U.S. and Europe, edited by Armando Carbonell, Gerrit-Jan Knaap, and Zorica Nedovic-Budic, will also be launched at the National Planning Conference. The research surveys higher-level planning initiatives in five U.S. states -- Oregon, California, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey – and spatial planning structures in five western European nations: The Netherlands, Denmark, France, U.K., and Ireland.
     Though planning at the state and national level leads to more efficient investments in infrastructure, better resilience in the face of climate change, and greater equity in economic development, most land use planning continues to be done at the local level.
     Throughout the conference, at the Washington State Convention Center, the Lincoln Institute will co-sponsor the Planning and Climate Change Symposium, taking stock of initiatives in cities and states in addressing increased hazards and preparation for the impacts of climate change, disaster recovery and building resilience.
      On Sunday, April 19 from 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Armando Carbonell, AICP, senior fellow and chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute, will lead a conversation, Planning and Climate Change in Context, with Peter Calthorpe, principal at Calthorpe Associates, and Harriet Tregoning, this week appointed to be Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Office of Community Planning and Development, and previously Director of the Office of Economic Resilience at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
     Addressing Climate Impacts in Vulnerable Communities is also set for Sunday from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m., with Ana Baptista from The New School for Public Engagement, George W. “Mac” McCarthy, President and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Jacqui Patterson, at the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, and Sharon Harlan, Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change.
     Building New Economies in Legacy Cities, from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on Saturday April 18, will feature Lavea Brachman, executive director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center and co-author of the Lincoln Institute report Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities, and Jason Segedy, director of the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, in a panel moderated by Anthony Flint, Fellow and Director of Public Affairs at the Lincoln Institute.
     Also Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ken Snyder, founder and CEO of PlaceMatters, Arnab Chakraborty, AICP, associate professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ray Quay, Research Professional with the Decision Center for a Desert City project in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, and Brad Barnett, project manager at Calthorpe Analytics, will lead a workshop, Thinking About the Future with Scenario Tools. The panelists will draw on the initiative and report Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools, published by the Lincoln Institute, and the experiences of the Open Planning Tools Group, a Lincoln Institute partner.
     Oil and Gas Development, Local Responses, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, will explore the land use implications of resource extraction, including fracking, with Brad Mueller, AICP, City of Greeley Planning Department; Lorelei Oviatt, AICP, Kern County; and Tushar Kansal from the Consensus Building Institute, a Lincoln Institute partner.
     The Lincoln Institute will host two sessions on Monday, April 20 based on the long-running convening of planning directors nationwide. In the first, What’s Up with Seattle-Area Planning Directors from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., planners will share the results of an all-day retreat, with Brian Jackson, City of Vancouver, British Columbia; Shane Hope, AICP, City of Edmonds, Washington; Eric Shields, AICP, City of Kirkland, Washington; Nathan Torgelson, City of Seattle, Washington; Colin Cooper, AICP, City of Hillsboro, Oregon; Jean LaMontagne, City of Surrey, British Columbia. Peter Pollock, the Lincoln Institute’s Roland Smith Fellow based in Boulder, Colo., will serve as moderator.
     In the second panel, Big City Planning Directors on Affordable Housing and Equity, from 2:45 to 4 p.m., participants from the annual convening organized by the Lincoln Institute, APA, and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design will include David Rouse, AICP, American Planning Association; Armando Carbonell, AICP, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; Robert Hickey, Center for Housing Policy, a division of the National Housing Conference; John Rahaim, planning director from San Francisco; and Purnima Kapur from the New York City Department of Planning.
     The Lincoln Institute will have publications and a wide range of materials available throughout the conference in the Planning Expo at Booth 701. 

April 14, 2015

Planning for States and Nation-States

Planning_for_States_and_Nation_States_coverPlanning at the state and national level leads to more efficient investments in infrastructure, better resilience in the face of climate change, and greater equity in economic development, but most land use planning continues to be done at the local level, according to new research published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
     Planning for States and Nation-States in the U.S. and Europe, edited by Armando Carbonell, Gerrit-Jan Knaap, and Zorica Nedovic-Budic, examines the role of the U.S. federal government and the European Union, and compares land use and spatial planning structures in five U.S. states (Oregon, California, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey) and five western European nations (The Netherlands, Denmark, France, U.K., and Ireland).
     The case studies highlight innovative strategies adopted by states and nation-states to address global and local planning challenges in the 21st century. The conclusions suggest a trend towards the devolution of planning responsibilities from the level of nations, states, and nation-states, to lower levels of government.
     “In the U.S., where few states engage in planning and an aversion to national planning persists, the love affair with ‘localism’ handicaps our ability to deal with challenges like climate change, growing economic disparity, and inadequate infrastructure,” said Armando Carbonell, senior fellow and chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute.
      The book, which is based on a symposium by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy at University College, Dublin, and the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, will have its debut at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in Seattle April 17-22, 2015.
      The fundamental challenges of building and sustaining human settlements have not changed significantly for centuries: shelter, sanitation, transportation, nutrition, social interaction, and economic production. The relative urgency of these challenges, however, has changed over time, as have the planning and public policy approaches to address them. Since the turn of the last century, climate change, economic development, social justice, and community revitalization have risen to the top of the planning agenda.
     To address these issues, planners have conducted extensive research, developed and marshaled new technologies, and adopted a variety of new tools and policy instruments. In addition, planners and policy makers in some European nations and some U.S. states have significantly changed the relative roles of international organizations and national, state, regional, and local governments.
     In the United States, during the first term of the Obama administration, the federal government launched several new initiatives to facilitate collaborative planning at the metropolitan scale. Beginning in the 1970s, some states strengthened and then loosened oversight of local planning, some assigned new responsibilities to regional governments, and still others prepared and adopted statewide development plans. Oregon and Maryland are perhaps best known for robust statewide planning initiatives to encourage more sustainable development.
     In Europe, changes in the roles of governments have been more dramatic and widespread, beginning with the creation of the European Union (EU) and the emergence of pan- European planning frameworks.  To foster unity and economic growth, the EU promulgated principles of spatial development for its member nations. Some European nations adopted national spatial development strategies, while others delegated more responsibilities to regional and local governments.
     Planning for States and Nation-Statesin the U.S. and Europe (2015 / 552 Pages / Paper / $35.00 / ISBN: 978-155844-291-7 / eBook ISBN: 978-1-55844-292-4) is edited by Armando Carbonell, senior fellow and chairman, Department of Planning and Urban Form, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning,Director, National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, Associate Dean for Research and Creative Activity, School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, University of Maryland; and Zorica Nedovic-Budic, Professor of Spatial Planning, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin, Ireland.
     Contributors in the U.S. analysis are Patricia E. Salkin, dean of the Touro Law Center (Land Use Regulation in the United States: An Intergovernmental Framework); Ethan Seltzer, professor at the Nohad A. Toulon School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University (Land Use Planning in Oregon: The Quilt and the Struggle for Scale); William Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University (Will Climate Change Save Growth Management in California?); Martim A. Bierbaum, senior scholar at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, University of Maryland (The New Jersey State Planning Experience: From Ambitious Vision to Implementation Quagmire to Goal Redefinition); Gerrit-Jan Knapp (Using Incentives to Combat Sprawl: Maryland’s Evolving Approach to Smart Growth); and Rebecca Lewis, assistant professor of Planning, Public Policy, and Management at the University of Oregon (Delaware’s Quiet Emergence into Innovative State Planning).
     Contributors providing commentary in the U.S. section are: Richard Whitman, Natural Resources Policy Director, Oregon Office of the Governor; Richard Hall, Secretary, Mary land Department of Planning; Constance C. Holland, Director, Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination; Mike McKeever, Executive Director, Sacramento Association of Governments; and Frank J. Popper, professor of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, and the Environmental Studies Program, Prince ton University.
     Contributors to the section on Europe are: Andreas Faludi, Emeritus Professor of Spatial Policy Systems in Europe and Guest Researcher, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands (The European Union Context of National Planning); Barrie Needham, Emeritus Professor of Spatial Planning, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University, The Netherlands (The National Spatial Strategy for The Netherlands); Stig Enemark, Professor of Land Management Aalborg University, and Honorary President, International Federation of Surveyors, Denmark, and Daniel Galland, Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Denmark (The Danish National Spatial Planning Framework: Fluctuating Capacities of Planning Policies and Institutions); Anna Geppert, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Paris– Sorbonne, France (Planning Without a Spatial Development Perspective? The French Case); Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Professor of Town Planning, Newcastle University, United Kingdom (National Planning in the United Kingdom); and Berna Grist, Senior Lecturer, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin, Ireland (The Irish National Spatial Strategy).
     Commentators in the Europe section are Jane Kragh Andersen, Geographer, Ministry of the Environment, Denmark; Henriette Bersee, Head of Policy Studies, Directorate for Spatial Development, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, The Netherlands; Niall Cussen, Senior Planning Adviser, Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Ireland; Jean Peyrony, Director General, Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière, France; Brendan Williams, Lecturer, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin, Ireland; and Leonora Rozee, Visiting Professor, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, United Kingdom.

April 09, 2015

At Journalists Forum, confronting social equity

Journalists Forum 2015 CurtatoneThe growing problem of inequality in cities was the central theme of the annual Journalists Forum on Land and the Built Environment, held last month at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Some 40 leading writers and editors and Nieman Fellows gathered for the two-day forum.
      Cities in the U.S. and all around the world are confronting gentrification and the widening gap between rich and poor, and mobilizing to bring greater equity through better policies in jobs, affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, parks and public space, and more meaningful civic engagement.
     The extent of the problem was illustrated vividly by Edward G. Goetz, professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, who shared research on “Racially Concentrated Areas of Affluence,” where segments of the population in metropolitan areas are more than 90 percent white, with incomes four times the poverty level. The concentration of wealth showed up as polycentric swaths of red on maps of cities from San Francisco to Boston – the flip side of the American urban inequality narrative highlighting disadvantaged neighborhoods. These areas are effectively being subsidized -- at an astonishing rate up to three times greater than in poor neighborhoods -- by such policies as the home mortgage interest deduction, Goetz said.
     Social equity presents special challenges for political leadership, and four speakers at the forefront led probing conversations with the journalists. Joseph Curtatone, the mayor of Somerville – described as the “Brooklyn of Boston” due to rising prices -- called for a more regional approach to planning and economic development to “unwind the mistakes of the past and plan for the future.” More balanced growth can be achieved through value capture, affordable housing policies, and community benefit agreements, especially at transit-oriented development at the stations along the planned extension of the Green Line. But he said the city is also “embracing density,” in industrial areas transitioning to mixed-use development.
     Mitchell Silver, the New York City parks commissioner, said the community parks initiative emphasized fairness and equity in the distribution of capital investments in what he argued was a vital component of infrastructure in any city. The parks department is also trying to work smarter and more efficiently, he said, with mobile maintenance crews and money-saving innovations in playground design.
      As a researcher and legal activist, Stephanie Pollack agitated for a public transportation system that better served the low-income people who needed it most. Then newly elected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker appointed her secretary of transportation – just in time for a crippling winter that exposed the many shortcomings of the MBTA. When the T was forced to shut down, “that was the day employers found out how their workers got to work,” she said. While the financing of the system remains a priority, Pollack said she was open to cost-effective solutions wherever they may be. For late night service, the T spends $7.50 per trip. “I could give people cash to take Uber home,” she said. “If Bridge and Uber can get more people where they need to go – and affordably – then we absolutely should be embracing that conversation.”
      Finally, Christine Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council and now a fellow at the Kennedy School, shared her rough-and-tumble experiences trying to bring balance to New York’s red-hot real estate development market, at the evening assembly at the Nieman Foundation’s Walter Lippmann House.
     In analyzing “the most unequal society we’ve had since the last gilded age,” Chris Benner, professor at the University of California at Davis and a collaborator with Manuel Pastor at Just Growth, said places with more income equality and racial inclusion have a better quality of economic growth, and more stability through boom-and-bust. Growth spells tend to be shorter in metropolitan regions with more political fragmentation, racial segregation, and income inequality, Benner said, citing a recent study he had conducted.
     As models for more inclusive growth he cited the Salt Lake City area, Oklahoma City, and Seattle – the latter represented at the Forum by Tony To, executive director of Homesight, whose focus has been “communities of opportunity” bolstered by job training and digital literacy. Deborah Scott from Georgia Stand-Up similarly shared experiences in fighting displacement next to the Atlanta Falcons stadium and otherwise fostering inclusion in major economic development projects.
     Calvin Gladney of Mosaic Urban Partners  analyzed the dizzying forces of gentrification in Washington D.C., in the U Street and H Street neighborhoods.  “We talk about gentrification as the moment when a white person moves into a black person’s house,” though income and education level are more clearly identified in shifting demographics.
     Mitigating displacement can be achieved through affordable housing requirements and education and assistance, he said, citing the success of Ben’s Chili Bowl in adapting retail strategies. “Gentrification harder to survive than the riots,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s about participation in this upgrading.”
     Displacement is a “process of dispossession … the traumatic stress reaction to loss of part or all of one’s emotional ecosystem,” said Mindy Fullilove, professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University, and author of Root Shock. Whether in urban renewal or gentrification, she said, there are few more vivid expressions of inequality than residents of minority communities losing a home – and seeing others thrive in their place.
      In an exploration of the role of design in social equity, Michael Murphy, Mass Design Group, demonstrated how the construction of hospitals can be healthy in every sense, particularly in places like Haiti and Rwanda – good for the local economy in terms of workers and materials, and better for patients with abundant windows and natural ventilation that speeds recovery. “The process of building is being under-leveraged in terms of community health and wellness,” he said.
      True inclusion requires genuinely listening to a community, said Georgeen Theodore of Interboro Partners, citing effective outreach in the West Market Neighborhood Plan and the Holding Pattern project at MoMA’s PS1 courtyard – a collection of recyclable and moveable amenities, from cubes to trees to chess tables, requested by taxi drivers, the elderly, kids, and Teamsters with an office across the street. “Community engagement isn’t a checklist – it’s an opportunity to tap into the needs of hopes of different people,” she said. A similar survey of residents’ attitudes towards public space is currently being tested by the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City, led by Toni Griffin. Equity performance measures include feelings of safety, stewardship, and connection.
     A resurgence in the locally crafted maker economy and small-scale manufacturing is helping many struggling cities move on from the days of a single large company dominating the economy, said Ilana Preuss, founder of Recast City. Municipalities that set zoning and otherwise support smaller-scale manufacturing at sites such as Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center and FirstBuild – sharing space, equipment, tools, and back-end functions – enjoy greater economic diversity and resilience.
     On the critical topic of housing, home ownership remains a positive force for household stability, holding a job, getting access to good education, and civic participation, said Roberto G. Quercia, chairman of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina. But the nation’s housing policies are simply “not working,” said Emily P. Thaden, Research & Policy Development Manager at the National Community Land Trust Network. Limited-equity housing cooperatives, shared-equity Community Land Trusts, and deed restrictions through inclusionary housing can all achieve more lasting affordability, she said.
      New technology has vastly improved the information that can be conveyed through mapping of social vulnerability, said Loyola University professor Robert R.M. Verchick, scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform. From farm workers being affected by drought to low-income residents in the path of hurricanes, the most vulnerable face a future that is “hotter, wetter, drier, and weirder,” he said.
    Lincoln Institute President George W. “Mac” McCarthy and Omar Blaik, partner at U3 Ventures, pointed out the challenges of implementation as anchor institutions – colleges and universities and medical centers – in theory can be powerful forces for balanced prosperity in cities. They are big employers – in some cities, the biggest – and purchasers of goods and services; but they can be creatures of habit and risk-averse. The Affordable Care Act requires hospitals to do more for the communities where they are located, McCarthy said. Case studies included the University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia, Midtown Detroit, and College Park, Maryland.
     Looking at the law of urban equity, there are those that both diminish and promote equity, said GSD professor Jerold Kayden. The latter includes the Housing Act of 1949, so-called “right to the city” laws internationally, inclusionary zoning, linkage, affordable housing mandates such as those stemming from the Mount Laurel court decision in New Jersey and Chapter 40-B in Massachusetts, rent control, and living wage laws. Those that diminish equity include exclusionary zoning, minimum lot sizes, and construction requirements that make it harder to build multifamily housing.
     In the “Practicing the Craft” sessions, Alex Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said that the problem of inequity has been stubborn in the culture, compared to more rapidly changing attitudes about gay rights, for example. Public awareness of poverty would be helped by greater empathy – including on the part of the generally highly educated media. “The poor live in a different place. They have different lives,” he said. Jim Brady, founder of the Philadelphia-based local news site BillyPenn, said that millennials yearn for civic engagement, and want to follow up on major themes in the news, whether about gentrification or charter schools or the death penalty. “They want to be in real, physical conversations,” he said.
     In the concluding roundtable discussion, the journalists grappled with the challenge of writing about the rich and poor. “I feel like we are on a strange path where we are “othering” poverty,” said Jennifer Reut, associate editor at Landscape Architecture. “An us and them, versus, this is a problem for all of us.”

April 07, 2015

New look, and approach, for Land Lines

  LLApril15_coverLand Lines, the quarterly magazine of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, has been redesigned to include new features and articles written by a broader range of contributors.
      “As we elevate the dialogue about the importance of land policy in the built and natural environments, the new and improved Land Lines will blend compelling journalism and scholarly articles of the highest quality,” said George W. “Mac” McCarthy, president and CEO of the Lincoln Institute.
     “By linking our research to the lives of real people, we hope to elevate the general understanding of what we do, deepen and broaden demand for our expertise, and ultimately inform more equitable, effective, and resilient land policy,” wrote Maureen Clarke, senior editor and director of publications, in an Editor’s Note in the April 2015 Land Lines, published today.
     For 26 years, academic experts wrote Land Lines articles, commissioned as part of larger research programs ultimately by the Lincoln Institute’s three departments: Valuation and Taxation, Planning and Urban Form, and International Studies, which includes programs on Latin America and China.
     While the magazine will continue to reflect their work, Clarke said, the magazine has “begun commissioning journalists—carefully chosen for their experience, expertise, and locations—to write narratives that draw on the Institute’s research and demonstrate how effective and creative land policies help to solve vexing social and economic challenges.”
      Moving forward, Clarke said, “Land Lines writers will interview our researchers as well as the citizens and leaders whose problems would be solved by smarter planning, municipal finance, and land-related taxation.”
      In the April issue, veteran Detroit Free Press journalist and author John Gallagher writes about Detroit’s visionary strategic planning framework; and Ryan Dubé, a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and The Globe & Mail, examines the role of property titles in addressing informal settlement in Peru.
     A new column, City Tech, will highlight advances in the use of technology in land policy, authored by Rob Walker, a contributor to The New York TimesDesign Observer, and Yahoo Tech. The debut column looks at a new app called BlightStatus, developed by Code for America, that serves as a critical tool for rebuilding and redevelopment.
     Adam H. Langley, senior research analyst at the Lincoln Institute, authored another major feature on property tax relief. Additional well-established features—such as the Message from the President, the Faculty Profile, and announcements of new publications, events, and fellowship opportunities—will continue to be a prominent part of every quarterly issue. 
     “Although Land Lines is changing, some constants will endure. It will remain free and stubbornly nonpartisan. Our research program departments will still develop the key themes we explore. And we will continue to publish quarterly, honoring the Lincoln Institute’s historic identity as a school and research institute by taking the long view, plumbing the depths of contemporary global challenges, and recommending land policy approaches to address them,” Clarke said.
     “By linking our research to the lives of real people, we hope to elevate the general understanding of what we do, deepen and broaden demand for our expertise, and ultimately inform more equitable, effective, and resilient land policy,” she said. “We seek to make Land Lines a requisite read for Lincoln Institute followers and a gateway for newcomers.”

March 21, 2015

For cities, the doctor is in: a focus on municipal fiscal health

     The future prospects for cities worldwide has a foundation in something that doesn't always get much talked about: municipal fiscal health. That was the message delivered by Lincoln Institute President George W. McCarthy in an appearance at the USC Price School of Public Policy earlier this month.
     The basic covenant of funding local government for services and infrastructure has gone awry, he said, saddling cities with debt and plummeting some, most famously Detroit, into bankruptcy. “We have to ... rebuild the understanding in the general population of the role of local government and why it is necessary and good to pay taxes, or otherwise the provision of public goods would not happen,” McCarthy said.
     Noting that from 1980 to 2010, there was an average of seven municipal Chapter 9 bankruptcy filings per year, McCarthy said that  “very often insolvency today is the result of poor planning that was done 40 years ago."  Cities must manage around unpredictable federal and state government mandates beyond their control -- for example changes made at the state level on how to redistribute sales tax money.
     Fiscal problems are not unique to U.S. municipalities. In China, cities have issued $3.3 trillion in public debt since 2008 with permission of the national government, and they have few revenue sources to repay it. “Municipal fiscal health, if not managed correctly, can lead to cataclysmic problems nationally,” McCarthy said.
     In the long term, public debt almost always accumulates in the under-maintenance of infrastructure, which has dire consequences. The United States already has an estimated $3.6 trillion demand for infrastructure maintenance, with global estimates at $17 to $40 trillion.
     The urban growth seminar was covered by USC News, including a video of the presentation in full.

March 11, 2015

Conservation as Revenue Generator for State Trust Lands in the West

Conserving_State_Trust_Lands_coverStates are obligated to generate income from state trust lands, through mining, grazing, agriculture, or logging, but a new report published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy shows how conservation can be an equally robust revenue source.
     State trust land management agencies are poised to make better use of conservation mechanisms including conservation sales and leases through easements or outright fee-simple purchases, ecosystems services markets, and land tenure and exchange, according to the Policy Focus Report Conserving State Trust Lands: Strategies for the Intermountain West,co-authored by Susan Culp and Joe Marlow.  
The report, the product of Western Lands and Communities, a joint program of the Lincoln Institute and the Sonoran Institute, is being unveiled at the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute’s 24th annual conference Western Places, Western Spaces: Building Fair & Resilient Communities, in Denver March 12-13, 2015. It will be featured in a moderated session on land management for long term sustainability including Tobin Follenweider of the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners, Genevieve Johnson of Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and Culp, formerly a project manager at the Sonoran Institute, and now principal at Next West Consulting, LLC.
     At each state’s inception, Congress granted lands to each state for the purpose of supporting public institutions, primarily K-12 public schools. Eighty-five percent of the remaining 46 million acres of these state trust lands held in trust for these beneficiaries are concentrated in the West.
     Conserving State Trust Lands, available in print and by free download,explores current and recommended strategies to achieve conservation of state trust lands with ecological and environmental value, while maintaining the trust obligation to earn revenue for K-12 schools and other beneficiaries.
     State trust lands are an often misunderstood category of land ownership in the U.S. According to Stephanie Sklar, CEO of the Sonoran Institute, “Revenue generation and land conservation are frequently viewed as being at odds; however, this latest report delves into how conservation of trust lands can be compatible with the trust responsibility of revenue generation.”
      “Improving conservation methods will provide new opportunities for the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners to fulfill its dual mission of producing reasonable and consistent income and providing sound stewardship for trust beneficiaries,” said Tobin Follenweider, the deputy director of the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners.
     The Lincoln Institute’s first Policy Focus Report on state trust lands, State Trust Lands in the West: Fiduciary Duty in a Changing Landscape (2006), and a companion website, State Trust Lands, served as a primer on the issue: how much land each state holds in trust; the type of revenue generating activities conducted on trust lands; who the beneficiaries are; and the annual revenue generated and distributed to the beneficiaries.
     Building on that work, authors Culp and Marlow evaluate the pros and cons of the conservation mechanisms that are currently available to state trust land management agencies, including conservation sales and leases through easements or outright fee-simple purchases, contributory value and nonmonetary value, ecosystems services markets, and land tenure and exchange. They also offer recommendations for new methods to realize revenue from conservation activity. Key recommendations are to:

  • Expand the use of conservation sales and leases
  • Improve the utility of contributory value in the master planning process
  • Increase access to ecosystem services markets; and
  • Streamline the land tenure adjustment process, which includes reform of the appraisal process.

     Monetizing conservation will provide opportunities for land management agencies to pursue conservation options. All state trusts carry the mandate to fund beneficiaries in perpetuity, indicating the need for sustainable land management practices.

February 25, 2015

A Case-Shiller Index for China

     The Peking University--Lincoln Institute Center for Urban Development and Land Policy and the Hang Lung Center for Real Estate at Tsinghua University recently launched a new initiative to better track the price of housing in rapidly urbanizing China. The China Quality-Controlled Urban Housing Price Indices were announced late last year at a press conference in Beijing attended by media, researchers, and real estate professionals.
     The urban housing hedonic price indices were constructed for eight urban housing markets, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Dalian, Wuhan, and Xi’an. The joint team worked for the last four years to develop the indices, with original housing price data provided by a partner, Shenzhen World Union Appraisal Co. Ltd. The core methodology for compiling the indices is a variant of the hedonic repeated-sale hybrid model, first developed in the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices in the U.S. During the construction of the indices, several international experts offered technical advice, including Karl “Chip” Case, co-founder of the Case-Shiller Index, former Lincoln Institute president Gregory K. Ingram, Joyce Man, former director of the China program and now director of the Indiana University Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business , David Geltner, and Daniel McMillen, a visiting fellow at the Lincoln Institute. The indices, available online, will be updated on a quarterly basis and will be expanded to cover more urban housing markets where data become available.

February 13, 2015

State legislators confront revenue volatility, tax reform

     State legislators from each of the New England states attended the annual Economic Perspectives on State and Local Taxes seminar at the Lincoln Institute last month, a convening organized in partnership with the New England Public Policy Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Tax and fiscal experts from across the country discussed revenue volatility, property taxes, infrastructure funding, and state tax reform.
     Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, provided an overview of revenue volatility in state budgets across the country, noting that in FY2015 revenue collections have outpaced projections in seven states, are on target in 26 states, and are coming in below estimates in 10 states. Yolanda Kodrzycki, vice president and director of the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, presented research that showed state tax revenues have become more cyclical -- less stable over business cycles -- during the 2000s than in the 1990s and 1980s for 39 of the 50 states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Bo Zhao, senior economist at the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, noted that rainy day funds, one solution to revenue volatility, were generally too low in many New England states.
     Addressing current trends in property taxation, Phyllis Resnick, lead economist at the Colorado Futures Center, documented shifts in funding responsibilities and reduced accountability in Colorado's experience with TABOR and the Gallagher Amendment. Adam Langley, senior research analyst at the Lincoln Institute, spoke about two tools policymakers can use to provide direct property tax relief to  homeowners: homestead exemptions and circuit breakers. Although all New England states use these mechanisms, they often cover small groups of taxpayers and provide modest benefits. In an update on tax increment finance (TIF), David Merriman, a visiting fellow at the Lincoln Institute, and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, predicted that government budget transparency will become a more prominent issue and that there will be increased opportunities to re-engineer TIF.
     Frank Shafroth, the director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership at George Mason University, highlighted challenges in funding infrastructure. He focused primarily on the federal government’s inability to fund needed infrastructural repairs, and emphasized that states will be heavily affected due to this inaction.
      In a final discussion of state tax reform. Billy Hamilton, executive vice chancellor and CFO of Texas A&M University Systems, and columnist for State Tax Notes, explored the usefulness, or lack thereof, of tax commissions. He argued that the tax studies of 25 years ago used to consider the state’s tax system as a whole but more recently states have made use of tax studies that focus on a specific issue, such as tax competitiveness. Joseph Henchman, vice president of Legal and State Projects at The Tax Foundation, described recent tax reform initiatives including those in the District of Columbia, Indiana, New York, and North Carolina. Matthew Gardner, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, concluded the seminar with a discussion of tax fairness. ITEP’s recently released report Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States, Fifth Edition found ten states that had the most regressive tax systems: Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. All presentations are available for download.

February 09, 2015

Top 5 innovations in land conservation from around the world

     Five winning essays about innovations in land conservation, from a competition run by the Lincoln Institute in partnership with GlobalPost and The Groundtruth Project, have been smartly packaged on The Huffington Post. The new ideas in sustainability and finance, first presented at the 2014 World Parks Congress in Australia, and appearing as individual full-length essays at The Groundtruth Project site over several weeks late last year, highlight the activities of the following:

The full story at The Huffington Post Green site can be viewed here.

January 20, 2015

Lincoln Institute Joins UN-HABITAT’s World Urban Campaign

WorldUrbanCampaignThe Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has joined the World Urban Campaign, the advocacy and partnership platform for cities in the twenty first century, as an associate partner. The goal of the World Urban Campaign, coordinated by UN-Habitat and driven by a large number of committed partners from around the world, is to place the urban agenda at the highest level in development policies. The engagement of the Lincoln Institute comes as part of the run-up to United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) , to be held in Quito, Ecuador in 2016.
      Habitat III will take place 40 years after the first conference on human settlements, Habitat I, was held in Vancouver, and the world’s urban and housing challenges were first internationally recognized. Twenty years later, in 1996 in Istanbul, Habitat II served as the place of negotiation on future policies for sustainable urban development. The Habitat III conference will address sustainable urbanization and the future of urban spaces. It also will serve as an opportunity to assess the state of global cities, to develop solutions, and to revisit our shared urban future.
     The Lincoln Institute, an active participant over the last several years in UN-HABITAT’s World Urban Forum, brings to the conversation several critical components of the agenda, including the tracking of real-time growth in metropolitan areas in the updated Atlas of Urban Expansion; the importance of land policy in the many challenges posed by irregular or informal settlement; best practices and available policies and tools including value capture,  to support municipal fiscal health and finance urban infrastructure,; and current strategies in permanently affordable housing including inclusionary housing and community land trusts. The Lincoln Institute is also active in facilitating the coverage of global urban issues through the Journalists Academy and other efforts, and is organizing a pre-summit gathering later this year of affiliated academic and research organizations.
     Habitat III is in keeping with the view that while cities are at the heart of today’s global crisis, they are also the source of solutions for a sustainable future.
     The World Urban Campaign is guided by seven key principles:

  • Accessible and pro-poor land, infrastructure, services, mobility and housing;
  • Socially inclusive, gender sensitive, healthy and safe development;Environmentally sound and carbon-efficient built environment;
  • Participatory planning and decision making;
  • Vibrant and competitive local economies promoting decent work and livelihoods;
  • Assurance of non-discrimination and equal rights to the city; and
  • Empowering cities and communities to plan for and effectively manage adversity and change.

       The World Urban Campaign also includes the advocacy initiative titled ‘I’m a City Changer,’ aimed at raising awareness about positive urban change by engaging citizens in voicing issues and solutions to change their urban communities, and to achieve green, productive, safe, healthy, inclusive, and well-planned cities.