Not in Your Front Yard!

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Working on the editorial board of a major metropolitan newspaper for two years convinced me of one thing about libertarianism—it really, really, really needs to begin at City Hall.

Today's example of both choice-despising municipal policy and (more importantly?) a political/journalistic culture that nourishes it, comes in an L.A. Times article about a new City Hall proposal to limit house size in L.A.'s single-family-zoned areas (encompassing an estimated 234,000 houses) to square footage equal to half the size of their lots, with existing height limits of 33 feet reachable "only with a pitched roof, a requirement intended to discourage shoe box-style houses." Perhaps more telling than the proposal itself is the way it's framed in the article's opening three paragraphs:

To protect the character of neighborhoods being dwarfed by the construction of oversized homes, Los Angeles officials are weighing a law that would radically limit the square-footage of new or remodeled houses across the city's flatlands.

The proposed anti-mansionization measure would stem a trend fueled by the meteoric rise in home values and address a backlash from residents who complain that the spread of large, boxy homes is spoiling the architectural flavor of established single-family neighborhoods.

Some neighborhood activists welcome the proposal, while others complain that it doesn't go far enough.

Note the range of acceptable opinion.

This kind of politics—and journalism—happens every single day across this great nation of ours, especially in its bluest cities. For another L.A. example, check out this September article on zoning fast-food restaurants away. And for some reasony analysis of housing-size significance, start here and here.

NEXT: Subpoenas of the Gods

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  1. The whole concept of zoning is a socialist abomination. I should be able to build a nuclear reactor on my property if I want to. I’m white, so it’s OK for me to have nuclear technology.

  2. What do you expect? It’s not your property, you merely rent it from the state. Try not paying your “property taxes” to see if that’s not true.

  3. Well, to be fair, they’re only stating the acceptable range of “neighborhood activist” opinion. I think we can assume that the shoeboxofascists feel differently.

    It’s sort of like saying that some pro-lifers welcome a ban on partial birth abortion, but others don’t think it goes far enough.

  4. Matt, I think you’re totally right about this. The problem is, local politics in most places is driven by a small handful of activists, with no real counterweight from the larger community. Hell, most people don’t even bother to vote in local-only elections or to adequately research the candidates if they do vote.

  5. But what about the neato architecture in Venice? Those homes may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re all in one little single-family neighborhood where it’s understood that some strange structures will get built.

    But, as a not-yet-homeowner, it gives me selfish hope that someday I can possibly buy a one-bedroom craphouse for less than a million dollars.

  6. “I say your three-cent titanium tax goes too far!”
    “And I say your three-cent titanium tax doesn’t go too far enough!”

  7. Well, illiterate J, if you can pony up the billion or so it would take you to build a nuclear power plant, well – sure. Knock yourself out.

    If zoning had existed when New York City was settled, Manhattan Island would still be covered with farm houses with thatched roofs.

    The funny thing to me is still the somewhat obvious fact that the districts around the country that are seen as models for smart development all grew up without zoning, and the areas around the country that suck ass in smart development terms are all products of zoning. The solution to this that we are offered is: more zoning.

  8. What’s the complaint here, Matt? The reporters didn’t make up any neighborhood activists who hate this proposal?

    Did you consider the possibility that there aren’t any?

  9. This kind of politics — and journalism — happens every single day across this great nation of ours, especially in its bluest cities.

    Well I wouldn’t go as far to say exclusively in the bluest cities, but I think you overestimate how much of a problem this is “across this great nation”. Out here in the middle of everywhere Missouri, if there’s any restrictions on how many sqft of trailers (every one a shoebox) you can put on a lot, or how high your flagpole is allowed to be, they aren’t being enforced.

  10. Fluffy,

    If you actually read the proposals of smart-growthers, as opposed to only reading what their detractors say about them, you will discover that much of what they propose is deregulation.

  11. Perhaps his complaint is the matter-of-fact way in which it is automatically assumed that the “architectural flavor” of an area is sufficient justification for use of the police power on a minority of citizens, Joe.

    If neighborhood activists were proposing a law to force ugly people to wear bags over their heads, to “address a backlash” from residents who don’t like to look at what they consider ugly people, it would not be quite as matter-of-fact. Don’t you think? But using the police power to protect residents from looking at what they consider inappropriate buildings is so normal and everyday that it’s not even considered necessary to include a negative position within the range of acceptable opinion.

    If I ran an article today saying, “American voters are considering a range of Presidential candidates, ranging from conservatives to moderates” would that be good or bad journalism?

  12. What’s the complaint here, Matt? The reporters didn’t make up any neighborhood activists who hate this proposal?

    Did you consider the possibility that there aren’t any?

    Ummm, no, joe, the problem is that the comments were limited only to “activists” who agreed with the political agenda being pushed by the article’s writer.

    Did you consider the possibility that there might be some people who think that they should be allowed to build whatever size house they want — such as the people who are currently already doing so?

    It’s a case of trying to skew public opinion by embedding a quasi-editorial in a purportedly objective article.

  13. Fluffy,

    If American voters actually were considering a range of candidates that ranged from moderate to conservative, that would be find journalism. If nobody was voting for liberals, it would be idiotic to insist that the reporter track down somebody who supports a liberal in order to provide “balance.”

  14. Joe, I’ve never read anything in the Kunstler-esque genre that came remotely close to suggesting anything like, say, eliminating the typical planning requirement that commercial developments supply X parking spaces per square foot of developed space, for example. Maybe I just haven’t read widely enough. Do you have an example of a de-regulationist that you could share?

  15. If I ran an article today saying, “American voters are considering a range of Presidential candidates, ranging from conservatives to moderates” would that be good or bad journalism?

    That would be bad, but that’s not what’s being said here. It would be more like “Republican voters are considering a range of Presidential candidates, ranging from conservatives to moderates.”

  16. with existing height limits of 33 feet reachable “only with a pitched roof, a requirement intended to discourage shoe box-style houses.”

    Yes, those pitched roofs are so essential in the rain forests of LA.

    Sounds more like anti-modernist architechture to me.

  17. Did you consider the possibility that there might be some people who think that they should be allowed to build whatever size house they want — such as the people who are currently already doing so?

    I’m sure they are. And I’m sure thay’re outnumbered about 100:1 among people who have an opinion. And I’m sure it would be crappy “some say while others say” journalism to pretend this is a hotly-disputed topic.

    And I say this as somebody who doesn’t like anti-mansionization laws, and considers the 99% majority of people who live in single-family suburban neighborhoods and support such laws to be spoiled whiners.

  18. Joe –

    BY DEFINITION someone wants to build bigger houses than the neighborhood activists want to allow – or there would be no need for the law.

    If no one wants to build bigger houses, what is creating the backlash that requires this urgent legislation?

    The existence of the legislation even as a proposal is pretty much prima facie evidence that the range of opinion is not what the reporter describes. So arguing that this guy is just passing on the empirical truth isn’t going to fly.

  19. I’m sure they are. And I’m sure thay’re outnumbered about 100:1 among people who have an opinion. And I’m sure it would be crappy “some say while others say” journalism to pretend this is a hotly-disputed topic.

    It’s a hotly-disputed topic if one side of the dispute is the people who own the property whose development is to be limited. That makes it hotly disputed even if there’s only 1 person.

    Arguing otherwise is like saying that lynching’s not a hotly disputed topic if I have a town full of people who want to hang someone and the only guy objecting is the guy in the noose.

    “How can you expect me to track down that minority opinion? It’s outnumbered thousands to one!”

  20. Fluffy,

    Try the Congress for a New Urbanism.

    Even the APA has endorsed the loosening of regulations, although their approach is very incrementalist, and their suggestions are more along the lines of reducing, rather than eliminating, parking requirements.

  21. Fluffy,

    By definition, there must be 1/2 of 1% of voters who pull the lever for the LP.

    Nonetheless, I’m not going to whine about biased journalism because the political columns deal with the Republicans and Democrats.

  22. It’s a hotly-disputed topic if one side of the dispute is the people who own the property whose development is to be limited. That makes it hotly disputed even if there’s only 1 person.

    No, it doesn’t. Journalists are not required to bias their reporting to reflect your political beliefs.

    Oh, gee, you find the one person’s case sympathetic. That and 50 cents will get you a gumball.

  23. Matt, I think you’re totally right about this. The problem is, local politics in most places is driven by a small handful of activists, with no real counterweight from the larger community.

    This is so true, I went to a zoning review meeting here in Seattle, where someone wanted to build a big 6-story mixed use building, and a half-dozen or so people who are opposed to such a thing showed up to this thing, and show up to all such meetings. People who are more or less of the opinion that building this is just fine don’t bother showing up.

    But this opposition is then represented as the opinion of “the community.”

  24. one thing about libertarianism — it really, really, really needs to begin at City Hall.

    You ain’t kidding. My little town of Santa Monica is a prime example. Seems about half the folks on my street fancy themselves “neighborhood activists”. Efficient government is actually pain in the ass when the local tyrant realizes his voice is heard at the city council meetings. In local politics, general apathy is often the friend of libertarianism. In this instance, a good deal of activism is needed to counter desire of the every activist for a government teat.

    It’s an uphill battle. In my old Venice neighborhood, those new “shoebox” developments were a godsend to property values. Then again, neighborhoods like Venice are generally more accepting of local color.

  25. joe | December 11, 2007, 12:41pm | #
    What’s the complaint here, Matt? The reporters didn’t make up any neighborhood activists who hate this proposal?

    Did you consider the possibility that there aren’t any?

    You mean aside from the homeowners with plans for remodel or expansion of their current dwellings? You know, the ones that will be directly impacted by said zoning changes. Yeah, those “activists”.

    Near the end of the article the reporter quotes one homeowner performing a complete rebuild. Even then it’s not “because I want a bigger house”, the reporters found justification for the teardown, “the foundation was wrecked”. If the overbuilding of property is such a problem, you’d think that more prospective remodelers would have been interviewed.

  26. JMR is right about who shows up to public hearings.

    This is just a lousy case on which to hang that point.

  27. Kwix,

    If the overbuilding of property is such a problem, you’d think that more prospective remodelers would have been interviewed.

    But the “problem” (I don’t actually think it’s a problem, but whatever) isn’t that people object to their own homes being built close to the property lines, but to everyone else’s.

    Just as, in the classic commons situation, none of the shepherds object to maximizing the size of their own flocks.

    So, no, the willingness of people to build their own homes larger does not demonstrate that people have no problem with homes with high lot-coverage ratios being built. How people behave under System A does not necessarily demonstrate a preference for System A over System B.

  28. This type has ordinance has already been passed in Minneapolis and is being mulled over by Edina, an inner-ring wealthy suburb bordering Minneapolis. Besides being blatantly anti-liberty, such ordinances will only push wealthy residents (and their property taxes) further and further out. I’m sure other suburbs, particularly those further out from the central cities (in Minneapolis cities like Eden Prairie and Minnetonka come to mind) will be more than happy to let rich people build big houses in their municipality.

  29. This is so true, I went to a zoning review meeting here in Seattle, where someone wanted to build a big 6-story mixed use building, and a half-dozen or so people who are opposed to such a thing showed up to this thing, and show up to all such meetings. People who are more or less of the opinion that building this is just fine don’t bother showing up.

    I sort of encountered this recently. One of the members of our neighborhood pool board showed up (on Thanksgiving day no less!) with a petition against allowing a cell phone company build a tower on the property. Mind you, I live a cell phone signal black hole and the pool is mismanaged and always on the verge of going under, but no matter, this tower must be opposed, even though it would mean a revenue stream for the pool.

    She quoted all sorts of reasons to not let it go through: property values will go down, it’s close to the elementary school property, etc. When I asked her how it’s going with one of our nearby communities who has almost the exact same set up and has for years, she told me, “it’s not the same.” When I asked how it’s not, she had no answer. When I asked how property values would be impacted when the closest house is 300 feet away and separated by a not-so-small forest of trees, she stammered something unintelligible. Then she ran away.

    Not before my liberal wife signed the petition though. Yeah, that and she got to shoot me dirty looks the whole time for having the temerity to ask an NIMBY activist to back up her claims.

  30. Let me suggest an alternate reason for why the theoretical opposition wasn’t given much space:

    The opposition to laws like this consists, unsurprisingly, of ideological political activists, who object to it on philosophical grounds related to their ideas abour property rights.

    Local reporters assigned to the municipal board beat aren’t political reporters. They are the people who report on schools being opened, Boy Scout projects and Hap, the local character who rides around town collecting bottles in a bin attached to his three-wheeled bicycle. (That’s my retirement plan, btw. It’s important to start planning for your retirement early).

    If there was a regulation about lot coverage regulations proposed in the state assembly, then you’d get a story featuring the arguments of both proponents and opponents.

  31. So joe, just to be clear, when an opinion you don’t agree with isn’t expressed it’s OK because those people must not exist, but if an opinion you do agree with isn’t expressed it’s biased journalism?

    Gotcha.

  32. Say,

    Would a market in conservation easements and air rights attached to parcels of ground-based land be the libertarian response to zoning regulations?

  33. Marcvs,

    Not even an attempt to waive at the actual arguments I made?

    Gotcha.

  34. Absent commenting on other motivations and reasons, opposition to these zoning changes may not have even occurred to the journalist. It may be as joe says, that there isn’t an organized group of opponents. However, journalists usually assume themselves to be more knowledgeable about the things they report on than they are, and usually allow their bias to reflect in their writing.

  35. Smart-growthers hate the children.

    Is a lot with a modest sized home or a McMansion worth more? The McMansion lot.
    Which lot then carries higher property taxes? The McMansion lot.
    Which lot then carries higher school taxes? The McMansion lot.
    Opposing McMansions, as ugly as they may be, hurts the children.

    I’ve seen this story before. Folks living in older, close to work neighborhoods were being forced out by rising property taxes. The lots, future sites of McMansions, were worth more than their houses. They could sell and move to the suburbs but they liked the area and they didn’t like the higher property taxes. So, like the smart-growthers in the article, they banded together to preserve the architectural integrity of the neighborhood and passed zoning ordinances to prevent the construction of future McMansions. Property values in the neighborhood fell causing neighborhood property taxes to fall. But the taxing districts had already factored in the new, higher property taxes into their budgets so overall tax rates were increased for the city. Thus, the neighborhood activists got more funding for schools and other services by raising everybody else’s taxes.

    They’re actually smart-antigrowthers…

  36. joe | December 11, 2007, 12:54pm | #

    And I say this as somebody who doesn’t like anti-mansionization laws, and considers the 99% majority of people who live in single-family suburban neighborhoods and support such laws to be spoiled whiners.

    joe | December 11, 2007, 1:08pm | #

    Kwix,

    If the overbuilding of property is such a problem, you’d think that more prospective remodelers would have been interviewed.

    But the “problem” (I don’t actually think it’s a problem, but whatever)

    Marcvs | December 11, 2007, 1:25pm | #

    So joe, just to be clear, when an opinion you don’t agree with isn’t expressed it’s OK because those people must not exist, but if an opinion you do agree with isn’t expressed it’s biased journalism?

    You, Marcvs, are a dimwit. I DO agree with the opinion that “isn’t expressed,” Einstein.

  37. Joe,

    This kind of thing should drive you nuts. Fine, keep rich people from buying teardowns and replacing them with huge house. Do you honestly think they are just going to settle for a small home? Hell no. They are just going to go out and buy a house in a new subdivision where the law doesn’t apply and build they house they want. I would rather have them using lots that are already developed than out tearing up greenspace and creating more sprawl. I would think you would think the same.

  38. I don’t know if blatant bias is worse or the “journalists” who insist, as part of their process, on giving equal weight to opposing expert opinions even if 9 out of 10 experts agree on something.
    “Experts” are also a vaguely defined group.

  39. This article seems to highlight the old problem of urban sprawl. No one ever considers their neighborhood to be adding to urban sprawl it’s always the new neighborhood across the street that’s the problem. I don’t know how old the existing neighborhoods mentioned in the article are but I wonder if residents in that area, when these neighborhoods were being built, complained about “all these new houses going up all over the place.” Not to mention that restricting architectural design of homes may just lead to worse shoebox houses than they have already. I guess my chief complaint with zoning laws is that it seems the layperson views them as a here-and-now fix and not a tool to manage growth over the long term.

  40. Small-town (or small city) politicking is the most vile kind of all, because all it does is take neighbor-to-neighbor disputes and turn them into Matters Of Government.

  41. John,

    You have no idea how nuts this silly, reactionary, anti-urban, suburbanist, spoiled NIMBYism drives me. I’m all about the redevelopment of existing areas. Grow up, not out.

    You have it exactly right, although you left out one important fact – the new communities they build will almost certainly be less energy-efficient, less pedestrian-oriented, and less dense-and-varied than the ones they would have redeveloped.

    My house is six feet from my lot line. My neighbor’s house on the other side is three feet from my lot line. Boo fuckity hoo.

    I’ve got not problem with design standards to prevent truly awful development – build that five bedroom house, but make it look right for the neighborhood – but regulations that stop people from doing what they want to do in the first place, when what they want to do cause all sorts of problems.

  42. > I would rather have them using lots that are already developed than out tearing up greenspace and creating more sprawl. I would think you would think the same.

    Good point.

  43. Joe — The “opposition” (defined as people would oppose this if they knew about it) isn’t theoretical, or fringe. It’s a majority of the people who have already done this to their houses, or who were in the planning stages of doing so. Chances are about 99% that this article is the first any of them heard about this proposed ordinance.

    What’s more, your imagined opposition of “ideological political activists” is largely non-existent in Los Angeles (where, as mentioned, libertarianism in local affairs is even harder to find than a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker). There are natural — and politically powerful — groups who are easily findable and sure to be against this: Developers, builders, residential real estate brokers, and maybe some homeowners associations.

    The problem with this article is that it begins with the assumption that mansionization is a problem that has long needed solving, and that the only question really is how much. With that frame, it’s not surprising that the real-world opponents to this were tossed a single crumb at the end of the piece.

  44. I guess my chief complaint with zoning laws is that it seems the layperson views them as a here-and-now fix and not a tool to manage growth over the long term.

    Yeah! Yeah!

    And the “here and now fix” they NIMBYs are always looking for is to stop development in their area, no matter how much sense it would make.

    Development is going to happen. Making sure some other patch of trees gets levelled instead of one near you doesn’t become responsible policy just because of where you live.

  45. Good god, I can’t beleive that I agree with Joe. I think I need to take the rest of the day off.

  46. What are you talking about Curly? Take a look at who is getting nailed in the real estate downturn. Hint: land holds its value, McMansions do not. Besides, having a McMansion doesn’t give your kids a place to go out a play, thereby condemning them to a life of fat-f*ckery.

  47. No, it doesn’t. Journalists are not required to bias their reporting to reflect your political beliefs.

    Oh, gee, you find the one person’s case sympathetic.

    Sorry, Joe, this is just false, and it doesn’t have anything to do with my ideology. It’s simple fairness.

    If a large number of persons are agitating for a regulation that directly impacts a single person, simple fairness demands that the position of the single person be at least NAMED.

    [Of course, you could counter that my claim that fairness demands that the opinion of the single person matter because that single person is bearing the cost of the measure is itself ideological. If so, please never ask for consideration for any minority right whatsoever in the future.]

    You didn’t like my lynching example because I attached it to a “sympathetic” figure. Fine, let’s make the figure less sympathetic. Let’s make it a child molestor instead. In an article about a new sex offender registry proposal, the number of people impacted by the proposal will be a vanishingly small minority compared to the total population of the locality considering the measure. Does that mean that the reporter should refrain from including the position/reaction of those covered by the law from the range of reactions surveyed?

  48. Matt,

    There are natural — and politically powerful — groups who are easily findable and sure to be against this: Developers, builders, residential real estate brokers, and maybe some homeowners associations.

    But as I wrote, that’s not what reporters on the local beat write about. They write about what folks in the neighborhoods are saying, and what’s going on around town.

    The problem with this article is that it begins with the assumption that mansionization is a problem that has long needed solving, and that the only question really is how much. From the point of view of “local news,” it is.

    In a sense, it’s the same problem dbust1 mentions, but in the realsm of journalism rather than public policy. Local-beat journalists, like ordinary neighborhood residents, aren’t thinking about the big picture, the implications for the city or region, or political ideology. They’re thinking, “Golly, they’re gonna cut down the big tree with the tire swing? Save the tree! Save the tree!”

  49. joe,

    This is the one issue you need to be radical on instead of incremental. Join us and DEMAND the end of all zoning. You claimed in a previous thread you achieve more thru an incremental approach but I call bullshit. As long as stories like this exist, you are failing. Might as well fail for the ultimate goal. 🙂

  50. Fluffy,

    You didn’t like my lynching example because I attached it to a “sympathetic” figure. No, I had no comment at all about you lynching example. It wasn’t the example I objected to, but the principle.

    Should every story about the effect of tax cuts on industry in Forbes magazine include a page about the feelings of people whose programs would be cut? No, because, you see, THAT’S NOT WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT.

  51. Joe –

    To stop beating you over the head with objections to the reporter’s method for a moment, I just have to say:

    The problem is that history has not shown that any set of regulators can be trusted to know what regulations are sensible and which aren’t over time.

    The Central Artery in Boston was once the last word in forward-looking futurism. Robert Moses was a lauded visionary in his time.

    Now everyone concludes they fucked up. How do we know that the lauded visionaries of this time aren’t fucking up?

    The urban cores of San Francisco, Chicago and Manhattan, the small scale urban development of Alexandria and Georgetown, the small town development of Concord and Southamption – all the places that planners claim they would like to try to imitate using “smart growth” – came into being in the near absence of regulation. A strong case could be made that they came into being because of the absence of regulation. When the most desirable real estate in the country was unplanned and our biggest fuckups came from planning, can we really SAY which regulations are the sensible ones?

  52. robc,

    I don’t believe in the elimination of all zoning.

    I believe in the elimination of stupid zoning.

  53. joe,

    all zoning is stupid, therefore ….

  54. joe,

    On a more serious note, can you tell me how you determine if zoning is good or stupid? There has to be some objective criteria you use.

  55. Fluffy,

    The problem is that history has not shown that any set of regulators can be trusted to know what regulations are sensible and which aren’t over time.

    The problem is that history has not shown that any general can be trusted to know what the best military actions to take over time.

    The problem is that history has not shown that any jury can be trusted to know who is guilty and who is innocent over time.

    And on and on and on.

    Yup, government is imperfect. AND YET, we don’t throw out all the laws against theft, because it serves society to have such a structure, even if it is imperfect. So we do what we can to make the government do its job well enough.

    As fare as the original growth of urban areas being unregulated, there was an interesting paper written on that subject at my grad school. A student looked into how the center of Amherst was built – an area tha is often held out as a model of good historical development. What she found was that most of the building was done by a small set of builders who all had personal and even family relationships with each other and with their clients, who in turn had personal relationships within the community. They were self-regulating, and development steered towards harmony by an established social structure.

    That’s not how places get built anymore. It you look back through urban history, you’ll find that zoning arose just after the investor/developer that we know so well replaces the earlier system.

  56. robc,

    Stupid zoning is zoning which, if followed, leads to poorly-built places – that is, the character and pattern of development is at odds with smart, responsible community design.

  57. Should every story about the effect of tax cuts on industry in Forbes magazine include a page about the feelings of people whose programs would be cut? No, because, you see, THAT’S NOT WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT.

    That analogy is inapt.

    It’s more like asking whether an article about spending cuts should include comments from current beneficiaries of that spending or their advocates.

    In your hypothetical article in Forbes, the spending beneficiaries aren’t the direct subject of the article, and possible spending cuts are an indirect second-level possible outcome of the subject under discussion. Frankly there’s no way to say any spending cuts would be made at all. In the article under discussion, the people who want to build larger houses are the direct target of the measure and of the article.

  58. In a sense, Fluffy, it’s a story of Big Government replacing smaller, more localized, less structured and by-the-book government is reponse to Big Business replacing smaller, more localized, more sensitive, more common-sense business.

    Just like in so many other areas of national life.

  59. OK, Fluffy.

    It’s like an article about a Fire Department that wants to buy a new fire truck that discusses fire coverage, the existing fleet of trucks, and fire protection practices, but which doesn’t interview any homeowners about tax increases.

    You know, pretty innocuous.

  60. Lamar suggests that land holds its value, McMansions do not.

    Uh no. McMansions and land are only worth what somebody will pay for them. Their value is a simple function of supply and demand. In the current real estate downturn (that largely limited to certain areas of the country) the supply of houses exceeds the demand for the houses so the price of the house declines. The value of undeveloped land also decreases since it’s value is a function of what can be built on it.

    I’ll give you an example. You bought a 100 acre ranch to raise free range emus for $500,000. Then one of two things happens:
    – a housing boom occurs, developers want your land so the value increases to $5,000,000 or
    – I declare your ranch a wetland, the value of your land is now $0. You can’t build on it, you can’t do squat with it.

    The value in land is what you can do with it, it’s a resource. With “proper” zoning I can either cause the value of land to increase by allowing construction or I can cause the value to plummet by prohibiting construction (think “greenbelts”). If I’m smart, and I am, your land will be restricted and mine will increase in value.

  61. “Oh, gee, you find the one person’s case sympathetic.”

    Actually, I defend a person’s right to build an oversized McMansion despite the fact that I can’t STAND the one built next door to me. Not sympathetic to him at all – when he finds out he can’t sell that thing for pennies, it’s going to hurt our property values.

    But a law that (further) restricts the (limited) property rights we have now? I’m not a fan.

  62. robc,

    I can think of two examples of smart zoning in my hometown. Two brown field areas left over from the near total collapse of the steel industry. The first area was zoned commercial/industrial and the second residential. The chief difference between the two areas was that the city understood that one area was better suited to commercial use (and now has several research laboratories) because realistically no developer would want the spot for residential development. The other can be viewed here:

    http://www.summersetatfrickpark.com/

    Zoning can be smart, but it rarely is.

  63. joe,

    smart, responsible community design.

    So, wouldnt places built that way draw more people, thus increasing property value, thus leading to the stupid, irresponible designed neighborhoods being bulldozed? Its seems without zoning, the problem is self correcting.

    Zoning (like in the story posted) is trying to get in the way of people doing the right thing. Yeah, you agree its stupid zoning, but it seems “no zoning” would provide the same benefit. Plus, I want a pub on my street.

  64. It astonishes me that in every discussion of zoning and licensing, no one at Reason EVER brings up the most egregious form of government subsidization: government-built roads. It’s all well and good to advocate privatizing the most used roads, which of course will be able to draw profits, but what about ALL the roads? No, of course not, because then they simply wouldn’t exist, and mass transit would be profitable for private firms, and then the libertarians wouldn’t be able to rally around their cars/rally against the horrible demon of “light rail.”

  65. Stephen,

    Usually joe brings it up eventually. So your “no one EVER” should be replaced with “joe EVENTUALLY”, but that defeats the whole point of your rant.

  66. dbust1,

    Your examples (at least the one) proves my point. If no developer would want the spot for residential development, then there is no need to zone it commercial. Unzoned it will end up commercial, just like it did.

  67. Hey! I always bring up the subject of government funded roads!

  68. The only thing this law will do is prevent poor people from making bigger houses for their families. Thank God they prevented that from happening…

  69. Episiarch | December 11, 2007, 12:26pm | #

    What do you expect? It’s not your property, you merely rent it from the state. Try not paying your “property taxes” to see if that’s not true.

    Ding ding ding! You win the cigar.

  70. robc,

    So, wouldnt places built that way draw more people, thus increasing property value, thus leading to the stupid, irresponible designed neighborhoods being bulldozed? Its seems without zoning, the problem is self correcting.

    When you’re talking about land and buildings, as opposed to investment vehicles or software or new style of cheeseburger, there are huge transaction costs to changing the product. And then there’s the parcelization and disparate ownership.

    When you build a place badly, you can’t unshit the bed without an enormous amount of headaches.

  71. robc,

    I usually respond to other people bringing up light rail on zoning threads.

    Because urban planning is my field, I have plenty to say about each individual subject, without bleeding into other planning-related subjects.

  72. I think it’s issues like this that make me a libertarian at the federal level and a fascist bastard at the local level.

    How many of you folks have actually lived in L.A. or the surrounding communities? Picture the quaint craftsman style neighborhood – small lots, and smaller houses. Parking on the street is a premium. Privacy is a premium. Maybe you happen to have a bit of a view of the San Gabriel mountains(when it’s not too smoggy to see them). You just managed to afford your house in the city and thanks to the wonderful real estate market now you’re stuck.

    The house next door goes up for sale and it’s bought by a large extended family looking to remodel. They tear down the craftsman house and build a two-story box out to the lot lines complete with marble columns out front and a weird mish-mash of 80’s design features. They don’t add parking, but they add a lot more bedrooms. Now you can’t park, you can’t see the mountains, and all you can see when you look outside is a gaudy overbuilt monstrosity.

    I’m sure that’s not going to sway the ideological purists but at least consider that there are lots of folks out there who do support these kinds of regulations, and just because the kooks show up at the meetings doesn’t mean this doesn’t have real support in the communities.

  73. robc,

    Your examples (at least the one) proves my point. If no developer would want the spot for residential development, then there is no need to zone it commercial. Unzoned it will end up commercial, just like it did.

    No, that’s not the way it works. Let’s take assume that the non-residential property has something about it that makes it bad for residential. Say a noisy highway ugly commercial/industrial/automotive uses around it. Let’s say it was unzoned, and a developer buys a piece of the property that’s bad for residential, tries residential, and loses his shirt. A few people buy individual parcels here and there, because the land is such a great deal, and put up their own houses. Now, you’ve got a crappy neighborhod (remember, bad for residential), scattered in among lots of undeveloped land. OK, so it’s a good area for, say, a trucking hub or some such thing. Good luck getting that built now that there are residences in the area. So now you’ve got some bad, low-value residential, while harming the property’s value for commercial development.

    It works the same way the other way, with a few businesses being built in an area far away from the highway (ie, better for residential), rendering the area less valuable for residential development – especially when the commercial businesses fail and become blighted or run-down, or buildings intended for offices or stores are re-used for oil delivery businesses.

  74. And let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that my grammer and syntax were correct.

    Obviously, we’re in the realm of the theoretical here.

    Perview, idiot, prevwie!

  75. OK, Fluffy.

    It’s like an article about a Fire Department that wants to buy a new fire truck that discusses fire coverage, the existing fleet of trucks, and fire protection practices, but which doesn’t interview any homeowners about tax increases.

    You know, pretty innocuous.

    Actually that would be a pretty glaring omission. Ignoring the “how will it get paid for” aspect is poor journalism. If the only story was that the fire department wants more stuff — then that isn’t really much of a story at all. It becomes a story when you discuss the implications of those wants/desires. And you can’t do that without reaching out to the people that those decisions will affect.

    And in this current example, based on the phrasing and the tone of the article, it seems more likely that opposition to the regulation was ignored rather than non-existent.

  76. I think it’s issues like this that make me a libertarian at the federal level and a fascist bastard at the local level.

    More generally, this phenomenon (policy being less ideological and more whim-based as you get more and more local) is why Matt’s hope that “libertarianism… really, really, really needs to begin at City Hall.” is probably a non-starter.

  77. robc,

    No, it doesn’t prove your point. What it proves is that the city made a wise choice when it came to zoning that location. The city government had to zone it because the city government says it has to zone it. The arguement that you’re making is that they should never have zoned it in the first place. My arguement is from the position that since they insist on zoning they should zone smartly.

  78. robc,

    Disregard what I said, Joe’s 2:38pm response was better.

  79. Let’s say it was unzoned, and a developer buys a piece of the property that’s bad for residential, tries residential, and loses his shirt. A few people buy individual parcels here and there, because the land is such a great deal, and put up their own houses. Now, you’ve got a crappy neighborhod (remember, bad for residential), scattered in among lots of undeveloped land. OK, so it’s a good area for, say, a trucking hub or some such thing. Good luck getting that built now that there are residences in the area.

    Well, what’s likely to happen over time is that either more residences will be built which will be affordable due to the undesirable nature of the location, or more marginal, small-scale, and ad hoc commercial uses will drift in to use the cut-up land that is still available.

    So you’d either get affordable housing, or you’d get a mixed-use area that would probably look like a little piece of Brooklyn before Robert Moses murdered it. [And before exploding Manhattan property values brought it back to life.]

    If the land was REALLY cheap and the commercial uses REALLY undervalued, you might end up with starving artists and broke hippies moving in, to start another Haight-Ashbury or South End. Which would of course lead to the undesirable properties being some of the most expensive in the nation in another thirty years or so.

  80. Fluffy,

    You’re making lemonaide, and it’s really obvious.

    You’re just assuming that whatever happens would necessarily be the best outcome.

    And your predictions of what would happen aren’t even correct.

  81. But I’ve got an even more important question for Mr. West Coast Media Boy:

    What’s Ken Layne REALLY like?

  82. The house next door goes up for sale and it’s bought by a large extended family looking to remodel. They tear down the craftsman house and build a two-story box out to the lot lines complete with marble columns out front and a weird mish-mash of 80’s design features. They don’t add parking, but they add a lot more bedrooms. Now you can’t park, you can’t see the mountains, and all you can see when you look outside is a gaudy overbuilt monstrosity.

    I understand what you are saying here.

    But I’m just saying that if you back up in time 120 years and make it “ugly 1880’s design features” on those “overbuilt” houses, and hand people in smaller houses the ability to stop that kind of development if it blocks their views, 5th Avenue in New York doesn’t exist.

    You can’t get to “smart development” without letting people “overbuild”. Because to people in underutilized sprawl-y areas, smart development represents change, which they don’t want, and tear-downs, which they don’t want, and overbuilding, which they don’t want. And the only way to stop them from strangling urban places in the cradle is to deny them the power. Because if the power is there, it will be used to destroy, because the “right” planners with the “sensible” schemes will always fail to appear at the right moment.

  83. joe,

    Or instead of being broken into parcels, it could be sold to a developer as a big block. And since developers apparently see it as bad for residential, the one that buys it would develop it all as commercial, just like happened (I dont know if it was sold as one unit or as separate parcels).

    Or, what Fluffy said.

  84. Fluffy,

    My last comment was pissier than I intended, because I’m pressed for time.

    Lemme get back to you. This is a fruitful give and take.

  85. You’re just assuming that whatever happens would necessarily be the best outcome.

    My argument is that the best outcome will NOT happen if it is not allowed to happen.

    I outlined the evidence to my argument above. I do realize that the communities I listed which grew up without regulation are the successes, and that there are a lot of communities that died or were abandoned or were torn down or that just suck that represent the failures. But the record of successes for hyperplanned communities is even worse.

    The other problem with the planning of the last fifty years is that the neat zoning you seem to favor has produced buildings that all only have one possible use. North Adams, MA was a failed community because its mills died. But because mill buildings have more than one possible use, the community can be saved. How are you gonna save Levittown? Say peak oil comes. What communities are best positioned to survive that? The ones built with planning or the ones without?

  86. Fluffy,

    You can’t get to “smart development” without letting people “overbuild”.

    You must let them overbuild somewhere. Not everywhere. A bigger house here and another one five miles away aren’t going to bring about an urban explosion.

    None of the places you mentioned – none of them – were ever exclusively residential. They were places of gathering and commerce from the beginning.

    Just take my hobby-horse, the corner store. If you want corner stores in the n-hood, you can allow any commercial anywhere, or you can rezone some selected corners to allow commercial. You get the corner stores in the second system, if they make economic sense in the area, without worrying about anyone waking up fifteen feet from a tire plant.

  87. Referring to a wish of mine from up thread, it could be said that drunk driving is a direct (or would that be indirect?) result of zoning.

  88. robc,

    Or instead of being broken into parcels, it could be sold to a developer as a big block. And since developers apparently see it as bad for residential, the one that buys it would develop it all as commercial But then you miss out on the dynamism of many independent actors following their own genius, which is an important part of any place-making. There’s a balance to be struck.

  89. Fluffy,

    I am a big opponent of single-use zoning. I like mixed, dense, varied places.

    Now, whether this means the whole area is mixed-use, or there are commercial zones scattered throughout a residential matrix, is another question.

  90. joe,

    There is an empty lot next to my new house. I am saving up to buy it to avoid waking up next to a tire plant (or, considering it is zoned residential, a shotgun house, although Ive been told that it is zoned in a way that nothing can be built on it, which may be true, but I dont care, because things change).

  91. Did you consider the possibility that there might be some people who think that they should be allowed to build whatever size house they want — such as the people who are currently already doing so?

    I’m sure they are. And I’m sure thay’re outnumbered about 100:1 among people who have an opinion. And I’m sure it would be crappy “some say while others say” journalism to pretend this is a hotly-disputed topic.

    Link, joe? Even the most cursory examiner of this statement would have to conclude that more than 1% of the adult population is at least one of the following:

    1) a libertarian
    2) someone who lives in a McMansion
    3) someone who is a fiscal conservative
    4) someone who is a realtor

    I could go on, but in the absence of a link to a poll showing about 99% of the population are lefty anti-developmental extremists, I’d say your argument seems mighty thin.

  92. Fluffy,

    I’m not sure why turning parts of L.A into 5th avenue is a good thing. Suburbs exist because they provide a nice balance of privacy/ownership with enough density to make it affordable. Sure it’s not as efficient as it could be, but why should efficiency trump what people want?

    Think of it this way – I, and lots of other gen-x yuppy types, don’t like cities. We want to raise our kids in those nice quaint craftsman neighborhoods. They give us a decent standard of living and in close proximity to a variety of services and infrastructure. They strike a balance between 5th avenue and a soulless ex-burb(exurb? think Temecula for those in L.A.). We got into our houses(I actually live in San Diego now, but for the purposes of argument…) with the expectation that a certain standard would be kept in the neighborhood. Hell, it hadn’t changed much in the last 90 years, so it seemed like a safe bet. That neighborhood aesthetic in fact is encoded in the value of my house. Now when someone wants to modify that, and shift the balance of essential services(like parking) and aesthetics, they should be subject to a review by their neighbors.

    Is it strangling progress? YES! But who said every neighborhood, every where needs to allow progress? What if we like what we’ve achieved? Shouldn’t it be up to the owners/residents?

  93. I don’t believe in the elimination of all zoning.

    I believe in the elimination of stupid zoning.

    If we can just get the RIGHT people on the zoning boards …

    Drink!

  94. Setting aside the zoning laws for a moment, does anyone know why today’s urban SFHs are indeed so friggin’ ugly (i.e., flat-roofed, boxy, brick prisons)? Wouldn’t you think the people dropping seven figures on these homes are chi chi enough to hire a design-minded architect/developer. Or is this look actually in demand.

  95. Setting aside the zoning laws for a moment, does anyone know why today’s urban SFHs are indeed so friggin’ ugly (i.e., flat-roofed, boxy, brick prisons)?

    Those big flat-roofed boxy brick (in our case wood) prisons are built to fit right into zoning limitations for height and lot size while maximizing living space. That’s why.

    At least in my case the tearing down of 100 year old homes and building new bigger homes has the following effect on me: i’ve stopped taking care of my 100 year old home. Economically its at the end of its life and when I sell it in a year or so – its going to be ripped down anyways. I suspect many other people who live in my neighborhood are doing the same thing.

  96. I would be delighted if every lot on my street sprouted McMansions, even if I hated the way they look, because that would drive up my property’s value, and then I could sell it and go buy a nicer place, hopefully also ripe for McMansionization.

    I’m a little leery about getting rid of ALL zoning — it would suck if someone decided to build a blast furnace or a nuclear waste dump 10 feet from my house — but, with laws requiring people building such things to compensate everyone affected by them, that might be doable.

    I guess I’m more leery of mission creep — even minimal zoning to avoid obvious stuff like the nuclear dump seems to inevitably morph into the “control what color you can paint your trim” crowd.

  97. I hate restrictive zoning. It does all of the following:

    1. Increases the cost of housing and commerical rents (if supply is restricted and demand is constant, the price goes up).
    2. Increases traffic and pollution from automobiles (if you can’t build housing in areas that people want to live in (such as near their workplace), they have to live elsewhere).
    3. Increases development of undeveloped wilderness (if you can’t build stuff in built up areas, people will build in more rural areas, which typically have less zoning).
    4. Makes public transit work less effectively (public transit works best in very high density areas).
    5. All the increased costs from the above makes everything in the economy less effiecent.

    It’s a government policy which is anti-enviromental and harms the poor (so then you have to enact even more complex regulations to help the enviroment and help the poor).

    In my opinion, there should be no zoning laws other than those required for bondefied safety or enviromental reasons (requiring fire lanes or interior sprinklers or protecting habitats that really need protecting). Regulating the height, density, or design of a building is dumb and counterproductive.

  98. jasno,

    A home owners association can fix your problems. Get everyone to agree to deed restrictions and you can protect your neighborhood asthetic without changing zoning laws.

    After living the last 9 years in an HoA, the house I bought in October isnt in one. And I like it that way. We have an interesting mix of old and new houses. My house is about 8 years old, the house on the other side of the empty lot is at least 50, as is its neighbor. On the other side of it, where a farmhouse/barn/small farm used to be, they have added a cross street and our building a bunch of new “garden homes”. Down near where the street meets major road, there are a few old two-story shotgun houses that would squeeze in nicely on the empty lot next to me. No two houses on my street really look the same. Old/young good condition/needs works. We have it all.

  99. They don’t add parking, but they add a lot more bedrooms. Now you can’t park, you can’t see the mountains, and all you can see when you look outside is a gaudy overbuilt monstrosity.

    Unless they brought in the people to fill up those bedrooms, how have they affected your parking?

  100. How many of you folks have actually lived in L.A. or the surrounding communities?

    I do.

    Picture the quaint craftsman style neighborhood – small lots, and smaller houses.

    If it’s called “Pasadena,” it may well have Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, or homeowners associations with strict rules. If it’s called “Echo Park,” next to where I live, it probably won’t have such things (and also, the houses will be tiny, one-bathroom affairs erected in the ’20s and ’30s, and largely unsuitable for modern family living).

    Parking on the street is a premium. Privacy is a premium. Maybe you happen to have a bit of a view of the San Gabriel mountains(when it’s not too smoggy to see them). You just managed to afford your house in the city and thanks to the wonderful real estate market now you’re stuck.

    Your being “stuck” after paying a boatload of premiums is my problem exactly why?

    The house next door goes up for sale and it’s bought by a large extended family looking to remodel.

    Let’s just call them “tasteless foreigners,” shall we?

    They tear down the craftsman house and build a two-story box out to the lot lines complete with marble columns out front and a weird mish-mash of 80’s design features.

    When you got stuck in your house, was part of the premium the legal right to tell your neighbors to share your architectural tastes and refrain from legally using their property if it interferes with your precious views?

    Ultimately, if you want your neighbors to behave in a certain way, you should have paid your premium to live in a city (like Irvine) or neighborhood (one of the city’s many HPOZs) that builds the restrictions you covet into the legal code. I’d rather that a city of 3.5 million doesn’t set housing policy based on aesthetic/class revulsion and a desire among homeowners to lock their neighborhoods in amber, at least after they buy in.

  101. My own personal zoning-is-bullshit anecdote: even after years of saving money, I don’t have nearly enough to make a 20 percent down payment on a decent house within range of where I work. And of course, saving money to buy a house is difficult when you have to keep paying rent all the while.

    Thing is, though, I just did a real estate search last night: while I can’t make a down payment on a house, I do have enough money to pay cash for an acre of good land in the area, buy a mobile home/trailer to put on it, and still have several thousand dollars left over. Not that I’d want to live in a trailer permanently, of course, but if I could live there rent-free for a few years I could save an astonishingly large sum of money, and in a few years I could either buy a nice house outright, or pay to have one built on the aforementioned acre of land.

    But I’m not allowed to do this, because of local zoning laws. Ironically, the same people who pass these restrictive “let’s make houses more expensive” laws then turn around and shed crocodile tears about the high cost of living in Connecticut: people in the 25-to-34 age group are moving out of state because they can’t afford to live here! My God, we’ll have to sit down and do something about that! Just as soon as we pass this new resolution increasing the minimum new-house size to 3,500 square feet and requiring driveways to be paved in Italian marble with no less than 3.4 visible veins per square inch.

  102. joe (or anybody else)

    a few years ago, I remember hearing about Transferable Development Rights w.r.t non-historical-preservation zoning. As usual, it was touted (IIRC) to be awesome, according to some, but had some drawbacks, according to others (Levinson, again IIRC).

    Is “TDR” a buzzconcept that’s been relegated to the dust bin? Is it useless? Or does TDR have a good track record? Or is it too early to tell?

    or: are there places where it works as a concept and others where it doesn’t work?

  103. homes is spoiling the architectural flavor of established single-family neighborhoods.

    We are talking about L.A., aren’t we?

    *shakes head*

  104. homes is spoiling the architectural flavor of established single-family neighborhoods.

    We are talking about L.A., aren’t we?

    *shakes head*

    Jennifer:

    Connecticut: people in the 25-to-34 age group are moving out of state because they can’t afford to live here! My God, we’ll have to sit down and do something about that!

    Already are. Oh, but for only for a protected profession. If you’re a teacher, we’ll cover you, if you’re not, it doesn’t matter if you earn less than what the teachers earn, get the f*ck out, we don’t want you here.

    If you follow the link to the story above, it’s an unintentionally funny article where the City of Seattle “discovered” that teachers made too much for the program that they implemented.

  105. Matt Welch,

    Re: your 4:18 post.

    I [heart] that you’re back at Reason. If you could see the smile on my face. BTW, in tribute to you Matt, I’m posting a link to one your articles that has been a near all time favorite of mine. I re-read this everytime something stupid happens in my little corporate world:

    http://mattwelch.com/OJRsave/OJRsave/DEN.htm

  106. If it’s called “Echo Park,” next to where I live, it probably won’t have such things (and also, the houses will be tiny, one-bathroom affairs erected in the ’20s and ’30s, and largely unsuitable for modern family living).

    So maybe you can organize the residents of your neighborhood to petition the city council and get rezoned?

    Your being “stuck” after paying a boatload of premiums is my problem exactly why?

    I think you misunderstand my definition of premium. I meant to say that it’s a fixed resource. Taking an older neighborhood and increasing the density by redeveloping puts a strain on the infrastructure(like parking, roads, emergency services).

    Let’s just call them “tasteless foreigners,” shall we?

    No, let’s not.

    When you got stuck in your house, was part of the premium the legal right to tell your neighbors to share your architectural tastes and refrain from legally using their property if it interferes with your precious views?

    Nope, but I bought my house with certain expectations of protection from the local government. There’s a middle ground between telling my neighbor he can’t paint his house pink and telling my neighbor he can’t build a 3 story house up to the lot lines.

    Ultimately, if you want your neighbors to behave in a certain way, you should have paid your premium to live in a city (like Irvine) or neighborhood (one of the city’s many HPOZs) that builds the restrictions you covet into the legal code. I’d rather that a city of 3.5 million doesn’t set housing policy based on aesthetic/class revulsion and a desire among homeowners to lock their neighborhoods in amber, at least after they buy in.

    In fact I do want my neighbors to behave a certain way, which is why I bought a house in a city that has zoning laws and a city council that keeps those laws up to date in accordance with the majority of the people that live in that city. Were you surprised that L.A. has more restrictive zoning laws than, say, Palmdale? Why on earth did you move to L.A. of all places anyway?

    You brought up Irvine – if zoning laws are so bad for development, how is Irvine one of the hottest spots in Southern California? Will it one day crumble under the weight of it’s own zoning?

  107. Paul, Connecticut’s plan is even dumber than Seattle’s: there’s this group which is quite concerned about the fact that this state is losing more people in the 24-35 age group than any other state (either per capita or in raw numbers, I don’t recall), so the plan is to use STATE TAX MONEY to bribe snob towns into loosening their zoning restrictions to allow smaller, more affordable houses to be built.

    Hooray! Instead of young people leaving due to high housing costs, they can leave due to the high taxes they have to pay for their low housing costs.

    I swear, I had good, sensible, rational reasons for moving here. I just can’t remember what the fuck they were.

  108. They were self-regulating, and development steered towards harmony by an established social structure.

    I suppose the same could be said for antebellum Savannah as for oh-so-enlightened Amherst.

  109. I do want my neighbors to behave a certain way….

    Nothing wrong with that, I wish my neighbors would behave in certain ways, but they don’t.

    I think the objection here is using city hall to accomplish your agenda. It would be more appropriate to buy into an area, like Irvine, where every neighborhood is governed by an HOA that is in place to ensure everybody keeps the garage door down, stores the RV’s elsewhere, and mows the lawn every week.

    On a related note, government interference in housing by dictating through zoning isn’t always awful. South Orange County is very lovely with broad avenues and beautiful greenbelts and open spaces. The downside is most people can’t afford to live there. The trade off is the cardboard houses stacked against each other on postage stamp sized lots to ensure plenty of open space.

  110. There’s a middle ground between telling my neighbor he can’t paint his house pink and telling my neighbor he can’t build a 3 story house up to the lot lines.

  111. damn screwed up html tag.

    Yes, the “middle ground” is not telling your neighbor a damn thing and minding your own f’ing business.

    If you don’t want to risk being offended by your nieghbor, there is a lot of lovely (read “desolate”) land not that far north of you. Then again, Palmdale isn’t what it once was either.

  112. If you actually read the proposals of smart-growthers, as opposed to only reading what their detractors say about them, you will discover that much of what they propose is deregulation.

    You see guys in joe’s mind smart growthers are those planners who advocate for government regulations that result in development that you will like. All the government regulations that have resulted in development that you don’t like…well that is the market’s fault.

  113. If we can just get the RIGHT people on the zoning boards …

    Drink!

    I would drink with ya, but my livelihood depends on doing just that.

  114. VM,

    TDR is useful in a lot of circumstances. For example, if there is a watershed area in the north of town, you can create an ordinance that allows property owners to buy the development rights for parcels in that area of town, and apply them to properties nearer the town center. This steers growth to a better location while allowing property owners in the watershed area to make some money off their land.

    prolefeed, you need to get out more if you think that supporting restrictive zoning makes one a “leftist extremist.” Sadly, it is more-or-less universal in suburban America.

  115. If we can just get the RIGHT people on the zoning boards …

    I was talking about laws, but I guess that went over your head.

  116. Stupid joke handle…

  117. Nope, but I bought my house with certain expectations of protection from the local government.

    jasno,

    Protection from the local government is ultimately what we libertarians are striving to attain!!!
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    doh! Wait, you meant something else by that.

  118. Protection from the local government is ultimately what we libertarians are striving to attain!!!

    Who told you I was a libertarian? I’m a federalist I suppose, but I’m way to pragmatic to be a libertarian.

    So what exactly is the difference between a HOA and a city government anyway? They’re both geographically defined authoritarian bodies governed (usually) by a set of laws and a democratic process. In either case they cover a small enough area that if I really don’t like the way my neighbors have chosen to run the place I can relocate. I suppose city government can arrest you, where a HOA can only summon the city government to evict you. Anything else?

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