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Effective Legal Tools for Problems and Distressed Properties

Level: Intermediate
Runtime: 91 minutes
Recorded Date: September 24, 2019
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  • The Power of Local Government to Address Problem-Property Issues
  • Creating the Framework in Local Gov't Action on Problem Properties
  • Codes and Code Enforcement: The Basic Framework for Property Regulation
  • Addressing Problem Rental Housing
  • Understanding and Dealing with Vacant and Abandoned Properties
  • Controlling, Acquiring, and Disposing of Vacant Properties
  • Land banks and Land Banking
  • Brownfields: Dealing with Environmentally Contaminated Properties
  • Exercising the Power to Demolish Properties
  • Greening Strategies: Non-Development Reuse Options for Vacant Properties
Runtime: 1 hour 31 minutes
Recorded: September 24, 2019


Local governments all over the United States are faced with private property that has either been abandoned or allowed to reach a slum or blighted condition. This panel will review the findings in a recent ABA publication on the topic, providing examples to the role of attorneys in successfully analyzing the regulatory and incentive tools available, and the criteria to use in determining which approaches will work for specific local governments.

Join our experienced panelists for a thorough introduction to the legal and policy issues associated with vacant and problem properties; how to take action to revitalize them; and, how to frame effective and defensible local ordinances and regulations.

This program was recorded on September 24th, 2019.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Karen L. Black

May 8 Consulting, Inc.

Karen L. Black is the CEO of May 8 Consulting, Inc. a woman-owned social impact consulting firm. Black is also a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania in the Urban Studies Department and Senior Research Fellow at the Drexel University Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation. In addition, Black is the co-founder of the Healthy Rowhouse Project, an initiative to improve access to private capital for home improvement loans that has leveraged $100 million in public and private capital. Black's research and coalition building has supported the creation of many innovative state and local laws and policies that address problem properties and attract new investment. Black is the author of award-winning publications discussing strategies to revitalize communities and attract private investment.

Ms. Black received a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College and a Juris Doctor from UCLA Law School. Ms. Black has been teaching at the University of Pennsylvania since 2002. In 2015, Ms. Black taught a course on public policy responses to gentrification at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs as well.

Prior to beginning her consulting practice, Black was the founding director of the Metropolitan Philadelphia Policy Center, a region-wide policy center founded to research issues impacting the economy, environment and equity within the Philadelphia metropolitan region. Prior to that, Black spent 12 years as a practicing civil rights attorney. Black is the author of numerous reports and professional articles and a frequent commentator for television and radio programs. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College and a Doctorate of Law from the University of California at Los Angeles.

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Meg Byerly Williams

Skeo Solutions, Inc.

Meg Byerly Williams is a sustainable development consultant based in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she works on projects promoting renewable energy, distressed property remediation, and neighborhood development, among other sustainable development initiatives.

Previously, Meg worked as a staff attorney at Pace Law School’s Land Use Law Center in White Plains, New York, where she served as lead author on several Center reports and manuals, administered academic seminars, managed student research projects, produced a successful conference, and wrote for legal publications on various sustainable development topics.

She holds a JD from Pace Law School, an MEM from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and an MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University.

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Jessica Bacher

Executive Director
Land Use Law Center, Pace University

Jessica Bacher is the Executive Director of the Land Use Law Center. Established in 1993, the Land Use Law Center is dedicated to fostering the development of sustainable communities and regions through the promotion of innovative land use strategies and dispute resolution techniques. As the Executive Director, Ms. Bacher’s responsibilities include development and implementation of projects relating to local land use practice, distressed property remediation, transit-oriented development, sustainable communities, land use responses to sea level rise, and code enforcement, as well as providing strategic assistance to numerous municipalities.

Most recently, she led the City of Newburgh, New York, in the development of a distressed property remediation implementation plan that focuses on the development of a land bank. Additionally, Ms. Bacher serves as a trainer for the Center’s award-winning Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program that has educated over 2,500 local leaders in land use strategies, consensus building, and regional stewardship. Ms. Bacher also chairs the Distressed Properties Sub-Committee of the Land Use Planning & Zoning Committee for the American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law.

At Pace Law School, Ms. Bacher serves as adjunct professor, teaching Land Use Law, Sustainable Development Survey, and the Advanced Land Use and Sustainable Development Seminar. She also administers the Center’s academic programs and guides student research. In addition, she is a guest lecturer and project supervisor at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she manages the School’s Land Use Clinic.

Ms. Bacher authors regular land use features in New York and national publications and has edited numerous small books in the fields of Land Use and Real Estate Law, including Breaking Ground and Planning and Building in Priority Growth Districts. She also presents at regional and national conferences and served on the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force Legal Work Group. Ms. Bacher was selected by the American Bar Association to receive the Jefferson B. Fordham Award, an award presented to a young practitioner who has shown great promise through her contributions to the field.

Ms. Bacher received her J.D. summa cum laude from Pace Law School in 2003, along with a certificate in Environmental Law.

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Allan Mallach

Senior Fellow
Center for Community Progress

Alan Mallach is a senior fellow at the Center for Community Progress in Washington DC. A city planner, advocate and writer, he is nationally known for his work on housing, economic development, and urban revitalization, and has worked with local governments and community organizations across the country to develop creative policies and strategies to rebuild their cities and neighborhoods. A former director of housing & economic development in Trenton, New Jersey, he currently teaches in the graduate city planning program at Pratt Institute in New York City. He has spoken on housing and urban issues in the United States, Europe, Israel and Japan, and was a visiting scholar at the University of Nevada Las Vegas for the 2010-2011 academic year. His recent books include A Decent Home: Planning, Building and Preserving Affordable Housing and Bringing Buildings Back: From Vacant Properties to Community Assets, which has become a resource for thousands of planners, lawyers, public officials and community leaders dealing with problem property and revitalization issues. He is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and holds a B.A. degree from Yale University.

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