Ear to the Ground
Ear to the Ground
Our attorney contributors share relevant and timely insight into real estate, energy law, water law, and environmental issues.
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Supplemental Environmental Projects Have Been Eliminated, Local Communities to Feel the Pain

On March 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) ended its Environment and Natural Resources Division’s long-standing policy of allowing the use of supplemental environmental projects (“SEPs”) to offset monetary penalties assessed to private…
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The Battle Continues Between Residential Landowners and Industrial Polluters

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court published their opinion in Atlantic Richfield v. Christian, further tangling the rules of engagement in the fight between residential property owners and industrial polluters.
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More Proof that Environmental Site Assessments Are Critically Important in CERCLA Cases

In 1980, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), frequently referred to as Superfund. This legislation was passed in response to mounting concerns regarding releases or threatened…
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COVID-19 Creates Short-Term Liquidity Problems in Commercial Real Estate

It is the first day of May, and in normal times the rent would be due again. But these are far from normal times, and in many cases the likelihood that rent will actually be paid (or paid in full) is quite low. As tenants search their couches for…
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COVID-19 Relief for 1031 Exchanges: Deadlines Moved to July 15, 2020

On April 9th, the IRS released Notice 2020-23. The Notice pertains to Section 1031 like-kind exchanges to defer capital gains tax on the sale of real property. Under the Notice, the 45-day identification deadlines and 180-day exchange deadlines that…
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Coronavirus and Commercial Evictions: Oregon’s New Moratorium

On April 1, 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-13, expanding certain coronavirus-related eviction protections to include commercial tenants. This order follows a series of emergency moratoria issued by Governor Brown, the City…
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COVID-19 Crisis Renews Interest in e-Notarization

Remote online notarization of documents, often called e-notarization, permits the execution of notarized documents via an audio-visual link between the signer and the notary. This eliminates the need for the signer and notary to be physically present…
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Commercial Real Estate and the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

On Wednesday evening the Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus package. What follows are some of the highlights of the bill that are most pertinent to commercial real estate.
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Will Financial Impacts from COVID-19 Pandemic Suffice to Breach a Contract Under a Force Majeure Clause?

Force majeure clauses in contracts are intended to allow performing parties to avoid liability if certain natural or unavoidable events or catastrophes interrupt the expected course of events and impact the parties’ ability to perform.
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In this Time of Coronavirus, What about our Water?

Happy belated World Water Day. It was Sunday, March 22, but you could be forgiven for missing it, since we're all paying attention to the COVID-19 pandemic instead. But what about water and the coronavirus?
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Evictions in the Age of COVID-19

On March 22, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order temporarily prohibiting law enforcement officers from acting on evictions as a result of nonpayment of rent. This followed the City of Portland and Multnomah County (which includes…
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Contractual Obligations and the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Absence of a Force Majeure Clause

In this age of non-stop news coverage, we continue to be bombarded with news of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our world. Most of us would likely agree that the pandemic was unforeseeable and that it was out of anyone’s control.
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Building in the Time of COVID-19

While I was social distancing at home, I was talking with an electrician friend and he said that builders are not slowing down on projects at all. If anything they are accelerating.
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Mortgage Rates Drop as the Coronavirus Epidemic Grows

As cases of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, surpass 5,000 in the United States as of March 17 and global stock markets tumble amidst concerns over economic uncertainty, the Federal Reserve has taken measures to address economic turmoil. Most…
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Managing Construction Risk for Oregon Owners and Builders

This article looks at how owners and builders can minimize risk for both private and public projects. A construction contract is the primary source for managing risk for a project of any size.
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The Lowdown on Commercial Leases in Oregon

A new infographic released by Cushman & Wakefield looks at the past 10 years of commercial real estate growth in Portland. With so much demand for office space from the multiple industries fueling our region's growth, I’m not surprised to see that 85…
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Preserve Suburban Farms or Advance Suburban Low Income Housing?

Farmland is going out of farm production in Oregon at what seems to some to be an alarming rate – near double the nationwide rate. As everyone knows, we also have a dearth of low income housing, at least near urban areas. "Wait a minute!," you say…
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Is Portland Really Requiring Private Developers to Provide Campsites for the Homeless?

The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission proposed edits to the City’s Design Guidelines to require that the street frontage of some new commercial developments be designed with spaces for people to “rest,” which some interpreted as spaces…
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Property Owners Win Big Battle in Supreme Court Decision on Regulatory Takings

On June 21, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, 139 S. Ct. 2162 (2019) (Knick), that private parties seeking to challenge a local government under the “Takings Clause” can now file their lawsuits directly…
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Things to Think About for Commercial Cannabis Leases in Oregon

Commercial property owners and tenants often ask their lawyers for a "form lease." But no form will fit every situation, and this is particularly true when the tenant is a cannabis business. Because cannabis remains illegal under federal law…
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