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Locally Undesirable Land Uses in Minority Neighborhoods: Disproportionate Siting or Market Dynamics?

Vicki Been
The Yale Law Journal
Vol. 103, No. 6 (Apr., 1994), pp. 1383-1422
DOI: 10.2307/797089
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/797089
Page Count: 40
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Locally Undesirable Land Uses in Minority Neighborhoods: Disproportionate Siting or Market Dynamics?
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Abstract

Professor Been argues that the major studies that purport to show that locally undesirable land uses (LULUs) have been disproportionately sited in poor and minority neighborhoods are methodologically flawed. These studies compare the current socioeconomic characteristics of host communities to those of non-host communities. Been, however, argues that such comparisons do not prove that the original siting decisions were made unfairly. Been explores the role market dynamics may play in the distribution of LULUs. A LULU's presence in a neighborhood often causes property values to fall, and that decline in turn changes the demographics of the neighborhood. Accordingly, the disproportionate burdens LULUs now impose upon poor and minority communities may have been caused by the dynamics of the housing market, rather than by flaws in the original siting process. If so, the proposed remedies for the problem are inadequate. To test the market dynamics theory, Been revises two leading studies of disproportionate siting by examining the characteristics of host neighborhoods at the time that the LULUs were sited and tracing demographic changes in the neighborhoods. One of the revisions shows that market dynamics play a major role in determining the demographics of host neighborhoods and therefore should be taken into account in the structure of any remedy for disproportionate siting.

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