School navigation


3L student James O’Donnell’s paper to be published in The Urban Lawyer

November 15, 2016

Third-year law student James O’Donnell’s paper “Affordable Housing Ordinances: Exactions or Use Restrictions in the Post-Koontz Era? An analysis of California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose” has been accepted for publication in the Fall 2016 issue of The Urban Lawyer, a highly-regarded ABA peer-reviewed scholarly law journal on land use and government related topics, and the largest circulating government law journal in the world.

O’Donnell wrote the article for his capstone under the supervision of adjunct professor and renowned land use lawyer, Ed Sullivan.

O’Donnell says he has always been interested in land use and urban planning. He sought out Sullivan’s courses and then worked during his 1L summer at Sullivan’s firm Garvey Schubert Barer in the land use practice group. There, he helped research, write, and edit a comprehensive scholarly article on Oregon’s urban growth boundary.

“After that experience, I wanted to try and get as much exposure in land use as possible, so I took the course with him my following 2L year and continued to help him with research and writing on numerous land use articles in my spare time,” said O’Donnell.

Last summer, there was a case pending at the California Supreme Court that had to deal with an important issue lingering in land use and constitutional law: whether an affordable housing ordinance that requires developers to create and sell a certain portion of new units at an affordable housing price was analyzed under US Supreme Court tests under the 5th Amendment takings clause. O’Donnell decided to make it the focus of his capstone.

“Basically my thesis is that the SCOTUS case law on the issue has really led to a lot of uncertainty and, based on its most recent case, which really expanded property rights, it may be that the California Supreme Court case was wrongly decided,” said O’Donnell.

Being published in The Urban Lawyer is particularly special to O’Donnell. “I’ve read Urban Lawyer since college for a course in urban planning law, and I remember thinking how great it would be to one day publish something in this journal,” said O’Donnell. “It’s a real dream-come-true for me to have something in this specific journal.”

O’Donnell graduates this December and plans to take the February bar exam, and start an appellate clerkship at the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Share this story on


Contact Us