Laura Huizar

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The last few decades have seen efforts to develop community-based planning models and other mechanisms for increased community participation in the land use approval process. Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), in particular, have risen in popularity across the nation as a tool for ensuring meaningful participation in development. Such agreements generally arise from direct negotiation between community groups and developers where community groups push to secure community benefits in exchange for support. At the same time, however, takings law doctrine may be shifting in a way that could dissuade cities from actively incorporating community groups into planning or negotiating with developers. Two Supreme Court decisions in the 1980s and 1990s, Nollan v. California Coastal Commissionand Dolan v. City of Tigard, imposed limits on how a municipality could exact benefits from a developer to guard against involuntary taking of property. In addition, states have increasingly enacted statutes curbing cities’ powers when it comes to exactions.

To the extent that including community groups in negotiations between cities and developers could lead to involuntary takings claims by developers when those groups push for benefits, the shift in takings law may arguably encourage planning departments to avoid creating processes or mechanisms that actively involve community groups in this manner. Such a possibility invites analysis into how cities actually craft processes for community participation in land use decision making. This paper examines New Haven, Connecticut’s formal and informal mechanisms for community participation.


Paper submitted by Laura Huizar for Yale Law School course taught by Professor Robert Ellickson. May 2, 2011.