"It is likely that in some heavily damaged parts of New Orleans redevelopment will be restricted, either temporarily, or even permanently. The possibility of such restrictions immediately gives rise to the following question: Will restrictions on development in New Orleans effect compensable regulatory takings under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? In this paper, we try to answer that question, or to at least provide a framework for answering it. We conclude, although cautiously, that it is more likely than not that temporary restrictions will not effect compensable takings because property owners still have economically valuable interests, while it is more likely than not that permanent restrictions will result in compensable takings because of owner expectations and a lack of reciprocity of advantage.
"We have three primary goals. First, we summarize the proposal for redevelopment which explicitly allows for the possibility of moratoria on redevelopment in certain neighborhoods. Second, we situate the current case law on this issue within the larger context of takings jurisprudence. Understanding the courts' trends on this issue, if any are discernible, will be indispensable in trying to get a sense of how courts would rule in litigation that might arise out of regulating redevelopment in New Orleans. Third, we give an analysis of how current holdings on takings issues might apply to the situation in New Orleans. Because of the complexity of takings jurisprudence, and because of the somewhat unusual nature of the situation in New Orleans, it is difficult to make a confident prediction about how such claims would come out."—Abstract.
The legal publisher BNA makes its Web Watch available for free. This posting includes links to federal government hearings and panels, as well as NGO publications. Despite the title of the posting, many of the resources cover issues beyond contract fraud.
"Average insured homeowners throughout Gulf and Atlantic coastal communities have taken just half the steps which would best position them to recover from a major storm, according to a new Hurricane Readiness Index released today. The Index is based on a survey which asked individuals to [sic] whether they had taken eight key preparedness steps, including whether they have an inventory of their possessions, whether they feel they have enough homeowners or federal flood insurance, and whether they have critical documents ready to go in case of evacuation. The poll was taken for seven of the nation's leading property and casualty insurance companies."—Press Release. The Index appears following the Press Release.
"In the aftermath of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and America's continued vulnerability to seismic hazards, including the 2006 Hawaiian earthquake, Members of Congress might elect to focus attention on the vulnerability of the U.S. coastlines to offshore earthquakes and tsunamis, and the potential effects of a major earthquake on both the homeowners' insurance market and the overall U.S. economy. Congress has debated the vulnerability of America's coastlines to earthquake and tsunami hazard risks, leading to legislative action following the April 1992 California earthquake/tsunami and the 1964 earthquake/tsunami at Alaska's Prince William Sound. Although a federal flood insurance program was eventually enacted in 1968 in response to the 1964 earthquake, it took Congress another decade to address the nation's exposure to earthquake hazards with the enactment of the Earthquake Hazard Reduction Act of 1977. Congress did not create an explicit federal earthquake insurance program, albeit the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program was established in 1992. Some insurance and disaster policy experts suggest the time has come to implement a federal insurance or reinsurance program for earthquakes and other seismic risks. Conversely, other experts question the need for such a program. This report will be updated as events warrant."—Summary.
+Kousky, Carolyn, Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Richard Zeckhauser, Private Investment and Government Protection (Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Faculty Research Working Papers Series, RWP06-017) (May 1, 2006) (PDF — 374K)
"The devastation wrought by hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast has once again reminded citizens, policymakers, and academics of the difficulties of making decisions regarding development in risk-prone locations. This paper has highlighted that government does not face a simple decision of how much protection to offer investments, nor do private entities face a simple decision of how much to invest in an area with a given risk level. Instead, government and investors respond to each other, with investment increasing when protection levels are raised, and government raising protection when investment in a risky location grows. When the marginal value of protection increases with the level of protection provided, the game may have multiple equilibria. Thus, given an ill-behaved benefits function, a local optimum may not be the global optimum, which complicates policy decisions, as does the uncertainty regarding the level of investment that will follow a given level of protection."—Conclusion.
"Many Mississippi homeowners who suffered property damage in Hurricane Katrina had insurance policies containing exclusions that denied recovery for damage caused by water. The Attorney General of Mississippi filed suit in response, attempting to declare these water damage exclusions void as against public policy. This paper examines the merits of the suit, addressing the central legal and economic reasons why the suit will likely be unsuccessful. The paper then proposes prescriptive measures, including changes to the National Flood Insurance Program and possible implementation of a federal comprehensive natural disaster insurance program, which may facilitate more efficient and widespread flood insurance coverage in the future."—Abstract.
Judge Richard J. Leon's opinion holding FEMA must restore housing assistance and pay back rent to evacuees deemed ineligible for long-term housing assistance. See also the judge's order filed the same day.
"NFIP paid an unprecedented dollar amount for a record number of claims from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Congress increased NFIP's borrowing authority with the U.S. Treasury from a pre-Katrina level of $1.5 billion to about $20.8 billion in March 2006, but FEMA will probably not be able to repay this debt on annual premium revenues of about $2 billion. As of May 2006, NFIP had paid approximately 162,000 flood damage claims from Hurricane Katrina and another 9,000 claims from Hurricane Rita. Most paid claims were for primary residences where flood insurance was generally required....
"FEMA has made progress but has not fully implemented the NFIP program changes mandated by the Flood Insurance Reform Act. For example, 15 states had adopted minimum education and training requirements for insurance agents who sell NFIP policies, as of October 2006."—What GAO Found.