Saving Mount Laurel?

By Hills, Roderick M., Jr. | Fordham Urban Law Journal, October 2013 | Go to article overview

Saving Mount Laurel?


Hills, Roderick M., Jr., Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction   I. The Need for Mount Laurel. Municipal Collective Action        Problems   II. The Problem with Mount Laurel. Informational Burdens of        the Unit-Based Approach   III. A Solution to Mount Laurels Problems? Focus on Zoning        Restrictions        A. The Proposal: A Presumptive Ceiling on Zoning           Restrictiveness        B. Comparing Mount Laurels Fair Shares to a Ceiling on           Zoning Restrictiveness        C. Implementing a Ceiling on Zoning Restrictiveness           Through Filtering Credits 

This is about getting Trenton the hell out of the business of telling people how many units they're supposed to have--some arbitrary, ridiculous formula that nobody could ever explain. (1)

--New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, on his efforts to dismantle the Mount Laurel doctrine

INTRODUCTION

Mount Laurel is in trouble--again. But has there ever been a time when this statement has not been true? The Mount Laurel doctrine seems perennially hovering on the brink of extinction. It was surrounded by controversy when it was finally made effective with a "builder's remedy" in 1983, (2) and it barely survived its transition to statutory implementation in the form of the New Jersey Fair Housing Act in 1985. Both Governors James McGreevey, a Democrat, and Chris Christie, a Republican, made open war on it. (3) Governor Christie has gone so far as to attempt to abolish by executive order the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), Mount Laurels statutorily created guardian. (4) COAH itself has attempted to weaken the doctrine with a "growth share" definition of the "fair share" obligation that the New Jersey appellate division has ruled illegally weak. (5)

Yet Mount Laurel stubbornly draws breath, albeit on life support: Despite the important constituencies in New Jersey that would like to pull the plug, there are other constituencies that stop the euthanizing of the doctrine. The State Assembly, controlled by Democrats with leadership from New Jersey's impoverished cities, has refused to let Governor Christie gut the doctrine with his own version of "growth share," (6) and the New Jersey state courts doggedly resist Governor Christie's efforts to dismantle COAH or municipalities' "fair share" obligation. (7)

It is an oddity when a legal doctrine cannot settle down to a comfortable middle age after thirty years of turmoil. One might impatiently say about Mount Laurel what Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell said about Algernon's fictional friend Bunbury in The Importance of Being Earnest. "It is high time that [Mount Laurel] made up [its] mind whether [it] is going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd." (8)

Why cannot Mount Laurel make up its mind whether it is going to live or die? The dilemma arises from Mount Laurels serving a genuine need in a clumsy way. On one hand, as I explain in Part I, the doctrine helps New Jersey's 566 municipalities and townships overcome collective action problems that otherwise might excessively impede an adequate supply of housing. (9) On the other hand, the specific design of the doctrine--in particular, the assignment of specific numbers of housing units to particular municipalities--undermines the doctrine's effectiveness as a device for overcoming these collective action problems. As I suggest in Part II, this "unit-based" rule--that is, a rule that assigns housing units to particular jurisdictions--places extraordinary informational burdens on judges and bureaucrats, because such a rule forces public officials to do the job of siting housing, a task usually reserved for housing markets rather than law. (10) Because the data and siting criteria are so controversial, unit-based doctrines invite maximum homeowner resistance, as each suburban and rural jurisdiction vies with each other to skew the contestable formulae in their own favor. Inner-ring suburbs, for instance, will want to emphasize "buildable land," as a factor for siting affordable housing, while rural townships will want to encourage infill and redevelopment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Saving Mount Laurel?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.