Irregular Kelo Takings: A Potential Response to Natural Disasters
Fredrick E. Vars
University of Alabama - School of Law
August 7, 2012
The Urban Lawyer, Vol. 44, Issue 4, Fall 2012
U of Alabama Public Law Research Paper No. 2126193
Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and fires devastate property. Prior studies have shown that rectangular urban lots are much more valuable than irregular ones. Local government faced with an essentially blank slate after a natural disaster might therefore redraw boundary lines to eliminate irregular parcels. This essay assesses that strategy and concludes: (1) the premium for rectangular lots is smaller than previously estimated, but still significant; (2) the controversial United States Supreme Court decision in Kelo leaves open the door to squaring lots as a means to increase property tax revenue; and (3) post-Kelo legislation in many states inadvertently closes the door on this perhaps sensible strategy.
Keywords: Kelo, takings, lot shape, land value
Date posted: August 8, 2012
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