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Confronting the Local Land Checkerboard

Fractured public land is hidden in plain sight. In communities across the country, a patchwork assortment of local governments share splintered ownership over surplus public properties, which can be found scattered in residential neighborhoods and alongside highways, in the shadows of development projects and in the scars of urban renewal. The ripple effect of this fragmentation extends across the spectrum of local governance. It creates needless costs and bureaucratic headaches at a time of acute fiscal distress for cities and counties. It contributes to an inequitable imbalance of local power between formal and informal landowners in a community. And curiously, the operative legal regime enables the problem while simultaneously muddying pragmatic ways to confront it. This Article seeks to shed light upon the local land checkerboard— and in doing so, the cluttered and opaque world of local government law that it inhabits

Daniel B. Rosenbaum

Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law