Zones, Sweet Zones

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Richmond, Virginia has broken new ground in the zone game with proposed "Target Enforcement Zones" that would banish "previously arrested" prostitutes and johns from certain areas. The Times-Dispatch makes no mention of mobility rights or due process, but a Richmond police officer helpfully explains, "This allows us to identify an individual to the court and say, 'You can't be in this area.'"

Hookers tend to be uneasy about the idea of legalizing the sex trade in part because they fear zoning laws, which would likely restrict them to remote and dangerous neighborhoods. But given that zoning laws are now routinely used to jack up penalties for illegal activities, as with drug-free zones, and to restrict particular people from particular areas, as with sex offender residency requirements, keeping an activity underground is no longer a surefire way to avoid zealous line-drawers.

As I wrote in June, it's not hard to see how this sort of thing will turn out: A zone may push an activity out of one neighborhood and into another for a short time, at which point the latter locality will insist on the same restrictive zone laws to deal with its new influx of victimless crime, and so on. But when zones blanket a massive chunk of urban land–as with New Haven's drug-free zones–you're just back where you started, albeit with harsher penalties for all.

Via KipEsquire.

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  1. …albeit with harsher penalties for all.

    Then, thanks to normal market forces, the price-for-service (or product) will rise. Wow, now we know what drives inflation in the price of illegal activities: Government action!

  2. We learned that back in the prohibition days.

  3. “A zone may push an activity out of one neighborhood and into another for a short time, at which point the latter locality will insist on the same restrictive zone laws to deal with its new influx of victimless crime, and so on.”

    I call this the ‘fire an’t effect. When I lived in Dallas, one’s home would from time to time be assaulted by mounds of fire ants. I don’t think there is any legally available pesticide that will really kill these things. We used to say that the best you could hope for from aggresive treatment was to drive them into your neighbor’s yard.

    This type of zoning is being used in Phoenix on payday loan companies . In this case its particularly crazy, because the zoners complain that payday loan rates are too high, so they handle it by limiting competition in certain zones.

  4. “A zone may push an activity out of one neighborhood and into another for a short time, at which point the latter locality will insist on the same restrictive zone laws to deal with its new influx of victimless crime, and so on.”

    I call this the ‘fire an’t effect. When I lived in Dallas, one’s home would from time to time be assaulted by mounds of fire ants. I don’t think there is any legally available pesticide that will really kill these things. We used to say that the best you could hope for from aggresive treatment was to drive them into your neighbor’s yard.

    This type of zoning is being used in Phoenix on payday loan companies . In this case its particularly crazy, because the zoners complain that payday loan rates are too high, so they handle it by limiting competition in certain zones.

  5. Paging joe… We need you to come explain why this is actually an example of why zoning is pretty ACTUALLY the answer to all of the world’s woes – whether it’s ensuring the landscape of the Miss. and La. coasts are hurricane-retardant to keeping hookers from congregating at the end of your suburban driveway.

    Of course, the last example was partially facetious – in joe’s world suburbs would be zoned out of existence because they’re just a big waste of space and resources and are bad for the environment…

    Besides, “everybody knows” suburbs squander resources that could be put to better use if our homes were all stacked on top of one another in a planned comuninity that encourages (read forced) people to use public transportation because parking lots were zoned out of existence in “Metro-urbanutopia-opolis.”

  6. Paging joe… We need you to come explain why this is actually an example of why zoning is pretty ACTUALLY the answer to all of the world’s woes – whether it’s ensuring the landscape of the Miss. and La. coasts are hurricane-retardant to keeping hookers from congregating at the end of your suburban driveway.

    Of course, the last example was partially facetious – in joe’s world suburbs would be zoned out of existence because they’re just a big waste of space and resources and are bad for the environment…

    Besides, “everybody knows” suburbs squander resources that could be put to better use if our homes were all stacked on top of one another in a planned community that encourages (read forced) people to use public transportation because parking lots were zoned out of existence in “Metro-urbanutopia-opolis.”

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