Nonzoning Made Simple
Congratulations on "They Built Their Own Highway..." by Thomas Hazlett (Nov.). His defense of nonzoning in Houston is good economics and good ethics. And how that man can write! I've never seen the economics of externalities, public goods, and free riders explained with such ease and with such beautiful irreverence. Hazlett leaves only one question unanswered: How did he survive graduate school?
David R. Henderson Senior Staff Economist, Council of Economic Advisers Washington, DC
Traffic and Zoning
Thomas Hazlett's article does an excellent job of covering most of the major issues in the zoning/no-zoning debate. However, Hazlett seems to conclude that Houston's traffic congestion is just the price that must be paid for an unzoned city. In reality, the cause of Houston's traffic congestion is the city's failure to price the use of a scarce resource-the roads during the rush hour.
Of course more intense use of land puts a heavier demand on the arterials, but a heavy demand will not result in overuse if the price reflects the demand. Just as there is never "enough" free parking downtown, there will never be "enough" street capacity in densely developed cities during rush hours unless a fee for use is imposed. (Most Reason readers are probably familiar with Hong Kong's experiment in road pricing.)
With a road-pricing system that keeps traffic flowing, builders would have to consider the cost of access to their developments as affecting the value of their developments. As areas became more built up,...builders would probably find it advantageous to provide bus or rail service to their developments.
Coupled with realistic pricing of parking spaces on all streets, road pricing and no zoning would result in a congestion-free city that used its land to the greatest benefit. Although private ownership of all streets might result in their most efficient use, there is no reason why the present owner, which happens to be the city of Houston, cannot at least attempt to price the use of its paved real estate to reflect its value.
Paul D. Gruen Department of Regional Planning, Los Angeles County, California
Besting the Soviet Bear
Jack Wheeler's article "How to Dismantle the Soviet Empire" (Nov.) has got to be the most common-sense approach to stopping the Russians' expansionist plans that has come along in a long time. He and you should be congratulated on its publication.
W. Elmer Seaman, Jr., Barnegat, NJ
Reason gets better and better. I particularly enjoyed "How to Dismantle the Soviet Empire."
Gerald Salchert Heilsbronn, West Germany