Zoning

George R.R. Martin Becomes a Victim of NIMBY Zoning Restrictions

Sadly, he's far from the only one. If we want to "break the wheel" of poverty and housing shortages, we need to roll back zoning.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

George R.R. Martin. Author of the Song of Ice and Fire series on which "Game of Thrones" is based.

 

When you play the game of NIMBY zoning, you win or your dream home dies! Famed science fiction and fantasy writer George R.R. Martin (author of the book series on which Game of Thrones was based) was recently prevented from building the castle of his dreams by NIMBYist "historic preservation" zoning restrictions in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where "historic preservation" is part of a broader system of zoning restrictions under state and local law. Christian Britschgi of Reason reports:

On Tuesday, the Santa Fe Historic Districts Review Board turned down the famed fantasy author's application to build a castle on his property.

Martin and his wife, through their Water Gardens Trust, had applied to build a home and seven-sided tower-like structure which would house a library, the Daily Mail first reported. That tower, in order to accommodate a stairwell and elevator, was six feet higher than what was allowed in the historic district in which the structure would be located….

The proposed castle had been revised substantially since it was first proposed (and rejected) in January 2020…..

These changes were enough to make the structure compliant with the district's design standards, but the board still got to decide whether the tower deserved an exception to the district's height limit….

The structure's unusual nature is what ultimately doomed it with both the board and the neighbors.

"It is a medieval castle, and I don't understand how we could possibly approve it in this style," said board member Frank Katz, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The New Mexican also reports that 40 neighbors in the surrounding area signed a letter opposing the project, writing that "the fact remains that the proposed building is still a prominent castle in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Santa Fe."

Another neighbor compared the proposed project to the fictional castle Winterfell, telling the Daily Mail that "all it's missing is Jon Snow and a couple of dragons."

Personally, I think it would be cool to have a medieval castle in the neighborhood. I wish there was one in mine! Adding "Jon Snow and a couple of dragons" would  make it even better. Regardless, it is a travesty that bureaucrats and NIMBY neighbors can veto the construction of new housing simply because they dislike it on subjective aesthetic grounds. Martin should respond to these busybodies with just one word: Dracarys!

On a slightly more serious note, it is worth emphasizing that Martin is far from the only victim of zoning restrictions that block the construction of new housing. Exclusionary zoning blocks millions of Americans from acquiring new housing and moving to areas with better job opportunities. The vast majority are not wealthy celebrity authors, but poor and lower-middle class people who end up being trapped in areas with few opportunities, as a result. Exclusionary zoning is both the biggest property rights issue of our time, and one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth and opportunity for the poor and disadvantages.

In recent years, there has been some progress on reducing zoning in several parts of the country. But much more remains to be done. Sadly, Donald Trump recently threw his weight behind NIMBY zoning, in hopes of bolstering his flagging campaign by persuading suburbanites that he is the only thing that stands between them and an influx of supposedly dangerous minorities. He's apparently trying to become the Night King of NIMBYism, or at least the King Joffrey.

If we want to protect property rights and expand economic opportunity, we need to roll back exclusionary zoning. In Martin's terms, it may be the best way to "break the wheel" of poverty and housing shortages.

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  1. In some ways, a zoning restriction can reduce one’s ability to improve a property and increase it’s value, or have it live up to it’s value. To me, it seems a bit like a taking. If society wants the benefit of an historic town, it should pay for it. Compensate the property owners who cannot improve their property.

    1. Seriously, we can make money by buying into a historic town with zoning restrictions and then extort monies from the local authorities by proposing to build a futuristic pneumatic structure on Elm Street?

      What a cool scam.

    2. Rick, it already *does* compensate such owners. But artificially inflating the property value by maintaining restrictions. Being in a “nice” neighborhood increases the value of all who own there. Now, if I were allowed to build a huge ugly eyesore, then I would profit even more, and my neighbors would all lose. And if you then did the same, then you also would profit a great deal, and the rest of the neighbors would lose even more. But the fact that city or local Building and Planning departments don’t allow this seems to be a perfectly reasonable and logical long-term strategy. . . . just as it would be if these same departments went the other way and decided to get rid of restrictions on what can be built.

    3. Ok, I just snap like this once or twice a year

      A) it’s “its”
      B) it’s “a historic”, unless you’re the weirdo who pronounces it “istoric”

      Ok, got that out of my system. See you in April or something

  2. Personally I think it is ridiculous that Somin would rather cater to an eccentric whim rather than preserve the historic character of Santa Fe’s architecture that blends so well into the environment. Martin can build somewhere else or he can adopt the round towers in pueblo style.

    1. I can’t tell if this comment is serious, but Somin’s point is that this affects a lot more than “an eccentric whim”.

      1. Of course it does, but I think Don’s point is that this is a poor example.

        Overly restrictive zoning is a problem, but not because of the handful of cases like Martin’s.

        1. Santa Fe has overly restrictive zoning and it has led to an artificial housing shortage in Santa Fe. The historic character zoning requirements contribute.

          1. “Santa Fe has overly restrictive zoning and it has led to an artificial housing shortage in Santa Fe. The historic character zoning requirements contribute.”

            If so, the city has the right and opportunity to change its restrictions or address its housing shortage in other ways. Who are we to say it should abolish its overly restrictive zoning and to which extent?

            1. Individuals, with property rights.

              Who is “the city”? Collectivists, people who tell others what to do so their own property status quo is preserved. Cronies. Corruption.

              It’s no contest. You either believe in individualism, or you believe in collectivism and all its attendant crony corruption.

              1. A community is a collective. And as such subject to the whims of a majority. You can go and be as individualistic as you want out in the sticks. Society has rules, for the most part I hate them but it’s a sacrifice we make for the sake of order.

            2. “Who are we to say it should abolish its overly restrictive zoning and to which extent?”

              My qualification for criticizing the acts of others or government is that I’m a human being.

            3. “Who are we to say it should abolish its overly restrictive zoning and to which extent?”

              By the way, the implicit premise of this argument eats the argument. For who are you to say, that I should not say, that Santa Fe should abolish its overly restrictive zoning?

              You can’t attack a normative claim on the grounds that other people shouldn’t make normative claims generally, since that claim (“[You] shouldn’t make normative claims”)… is a normative claim.

              1. “or who are you to say, that I should not say, that Santa Fe should abolish its overly restrictive zoning?”

                Sounds like a case for Democracy and having voters decide via the democratic process what they want in their own local area.

                1. “Sounds like a case for Democracy and having voters decide via the democratic process what they want in their own local area.”

                  As with so many issues, it comes down to how much any individual values collective decision-making/communal wisdom against individual autonomy. In this case “the democratic process” is the majority telling the minority how the minority can use the minority’s property. When the majority should do so is always going to be a function of personal values.

                  I happen to have doubts about the efficiency of centrally planned zoning ordinances, even in the hands of well-meaning people. Others’ mileage varies.

                  1. Alas, we live in a society of laws, laws agreed upon by the common people.

                    There are many, many laws that have been agreed upon. Your nuisance laws are one major subset (although lesser used these days). Why should they exist? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to do what ever I want with my property, even if it might affect others. It’s MY property, right? Why can’t I walk around naked on my front lawn, in full view of everyone? Or burn some tires? Or hold a raging party every weekend?

                    Because we as a society decided on laws to protect the commons and common people against these sort of issues. Some of our individual rights were limited for the common good, as done by mutual agreement. Zoning laws were an outgrowth of nuisance laws (and supersede them, in several areas, which is important). If an area is zoned for industrial, or agricultural, those zoning laws typically supersede certain nuisance laws. If you build a house next to a pig farm, in an agricultural zoned area, you’ll have a tough time winning a nuisance law case due to the smell. If it’s in a residentially zoned area, by contrast, you’ll win quite easily.

                    Is zoning required? No, there are alternate means. Private deed restrictions, for example, that will be enforced by the city. But it’s something people agreed on, something they largely knew about when they entered or moved into the area, like HOAs.

          2. There are reasons that Santa Fe is a desirable place to live and zoning is one of them. Yes, there is such a thing as too restrictive zoning. But the fact that virtually the entire neighborhood showed up to oppose this project strongly suggests this is not one of those cases.

            1. Desirable only for the self-selected few who control things.

              1. Why do misfits and malcontents always figure the mainstream constitutes the “self-selected few” and the “elites?”

                Lack of self-awareness that accompanies the anti-social and disaffected thinking seems the most likely explanation.

              2. Surely there is somewhere wherein you could fit both of those roles and be happy. Go there. Santa Fe is clearly not for you.

              3. “Desirable only for the self-selected few who control things.”

                If that’s true, then the excluded don’t mind going somewhere else, they didn’t want to be in Santa Fe anyway.

            2. “But the fact that virtually the entire neighborhood showed up to oppose this project strongly suggests this is not one of those cases.”

              Could you expand? The claim strikes me as indefensible. First, it would justify racial zoning restrictions so long as they are popular. Second, since zoning restrictions are enacted by elected officials, you should assume they’re frequently popular. But the absurd consequence is that popular zoning laws are justifiable because of their popularity.

              “There are reasons that Santa Fe is a desirable place to live and zoning is one of them.”

              The reason restrictive zoning leads to increased property values is not because centrally planned zoning increases demand. It’s because centrally planned zoning decrease supply. You might as well say a widget monopolist creates a desirable product by limiting the supply of widgets.

              1. What we’re really talking about is where to draw the line between property rights and the rights of others to enjoy their own property. Are you really suggesting no restrictions at all? If I want to start a pig farm in an urban neighborhood, my neighbors just have to live with the stench? Or if I want to use my urban property for a rock music venue, so my neighbors can’t sleep because of the noise, that’s ok too? Or how about if I want to open a halfway house for sex offenders next to a grade school?

                I agree that some restrictions go too far, but if your position is that there really can’t be restrictions at all, then you’re out of your mind and have a nice day.

                1. “Are you really suggesting no restrictions at all?”

                  No. I’m suggesting no zoning restrictions. Traditional nuisance law already deals with where to “draw the line between property rights and the rights of others to enjoy their own property.”

                  “If I want to start a pig farm in an urban neighborhood, my neighbors just have to live with the stench?”

                  The hypo starts wrong from the framing. It already assumes there are types of neighborhoods (“urban neighborhood”) in which some uses are presumably proper (housing?) and others not (pig farms). What is left to answer? Of course we need restrictive zoning to prevent pig farmers from setting up in urban neighborhoods, otherwise pig farmers might set up in urban neighborhoods.

                  Re: the stench, it either rises to the level of a nuisance, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, why do you presume that you have a right to tell someone else what their property should smell like?

                  “Or if I want to use my urban property for a rock music venue…”

                  Again, sound is a recognized source of nuisance.

                  “Or how about if I want to open a halfway house for sex offenders next to a grade school?”

                  The purpose of this example is, again, to answer the question. You take the property rights of one group who presumably are evil and deserve none (sex offenders or people who support them) and put them at direct odds with the property rights of noble people (educators, who will think of the children, etc.?). Have you considered that your instinctual resort to these examples belies a weakness in your overall position?

                  1. But what zoning laws do is to preemptively determine that a pig farm will be a nuisance if it’s opened in certain locations. That way everyone knows up front that a pig farm can’t be there and any prospective pig farmer who does due diligence will know to open somewhere else.

                    And I just don’t agree with the libertarian idea that so long as you’re not technically engaged in force or fraud, you can otherwise be as great a pain in the neck to your neighbors as you like. If your behavior is impacting other people they have a say. Not a veto – that goes back to line drawing and who suffers the greater harm – but they have rights too.

                    1. “But what zoning laws do is to preemptively determine…”

                      We agree that the purpose of zoning laws is to use the power of the state to resolve a power struggle between one group of people and another. From the pig farmer’s perspective, the presence of busy-bodies who hate the smell of pig shit is a nuisance.

                      “…any prospective pig farmer who does due diligence will know to open somewhere else.”

                      The hypothetical assumes a pig farmer is trying to move to a neighborhood, which means he’s made up his own mind as to where the best place to put the pig farm is.

                      “…but they have rights too.”

                      We agree. What I don’t agree about is using the force of the government to decide that the pig farmer’s rights are less than the homeowner’s. What is the public interest in siding with the homeowners? Government should be agnostic about the highest and best use of land it doesn’t own.

                    2. But one purpose of government power is to resolve disputes so people don’t take matters into their own hands. And the fact that you consider people busybodies for not wanting to breathe pig shit all day tells me that your ideology has trumped your grasp of reality. If something directly affects me, I’m not a busybody for taking action.

                      We just disagree. If the neighbors don’t want to breathe pig shit all day, they shouldn’t have to, and government is not the bad guy for protecting them.

                    3. @Krychek_2,

                      “If something directly affects me, I’m not a busybody for taking action.”

                      It affects the pig farmer directly, too. And in the case of restrictive zoning, it forces the poor to live in enclaves in which their property-tax funded services (like schools) are shit compared to rich, heavily zoned areas.

                      I should not paint so broad of a brush with busybodies. Yes, I expect locals to care about the quality of their schools (which necessarily involves them wanting to keep poors out). I think it is busybody light, but I get it. Aesthetic review boards are the definition of busybodies, since they involve people lording purely subjective opinions over others. The only humans who could possibly have the time or inclination to do that are busybodies.

                      “If the neighbors don’t want to breathe pig shit all day…”

                      The pigs will shit somewhere. Someone will have to smell the shit.

                    4. Yes, it does affect the pig farmer, but not in the same way. The person creating a stench, and the person forced to breathe the stench, are not on the same footing. Your argument reminds me of the old joke about the bad driver who hit a parked car and then said, “It was his fault; he was parked where I wanted to drive.”

                      As for your concerns about the poor, your real argument is that neighborhoods should not be allowed to become desirable by keeping undesirable things out, so that property values don’t go up. To which I respond: You’re seriously making that argument?

                    5. From the pig farmer’s perspective, the presence of busy-bodies who hate the smell of pig shit is a nuisance.

                      As an argument against zoning, that is just wrong. Farmers generally, including pig farmers, rely on agricultural zoning to protect themselves from that kind of nuisance, along with a great many other kinds of nuisances which would otherwise threaten agricultural practices.

                  2. Traditional nuisance law already deals with where to “draw the line between property rights and the rights of others to enjoy their own property.”

                    “Traditional nuisance law” begins with an assumption as to what uses are allowed and what uses are not.

                    It is a version of zoning.

                2. By dint of the fact that you’re a human being living around other people, all rights are in conflict. If you insist that pig farmers interfere with your quiet enjoyment of your property, you can only have quiet enjoyment of your property if pig farmers have fewer pigs (or sex offenders have fewer halfway houses). You think this is just about thoughtful central planning, but like most things where the government is involved, it’s just about power. In this case, the power struggle between rich homeowners on the one hand, and pig farmers/rockers/sex offenders on the other.

                  There are a lot of ways for this power struggle to resolve, but as Coase pointed out six decades ago, it’s a reciprocal fight. The government has no power to resolve the most efficient placement of pig farmers. All it can do is declare a winner. It may be that the best place for pig farms is in urban centers (or not), but we won’t know unless zoning laws are eliminated.

                  1. The government has no power to resolve the most efficient placement of pig farmers. All it can do is declare a winner. It may be that the best place for pig farms is in urban centers (or not), but we won’t know unless zoning laws are eliminated.

                    The way to find out is precisely for the government to “pick a winner,” as you put it, by assigning a property right in stench-free air either to the homeowners or the pig farmers. Zoning is a way to do this.

                    Once that’s done, per Coase, and assuming, highly unrealistically as I believe Coase agreed, that it is possible for the two groups to negotiate and agree relatively inexpensively, the question of efficiency is resolved.

                    But it takes an assignment of property rights to accomplish that. Getting rid of zoning is not neutral. It gives the pig farmer a right that previously belonged to the homeowners.

                    1. Like you said, Coase was talking about a fake world in which there are no transaction costs. His point, though, was that the government had no power to adjudicate the most efficient use of land through zoning. Absent transactions costs, it doesn’t matter whether they allocate in favor of the homeowners or in favor of the pig farmer. The point is that zoning can’t improve efficiency but (in a world with transaction costs) it can decrease it. That’s why government should be indifferent to the relative power struggle of pig farmers and homeowners. There’s nothing it can do to improve the situation, but it can make things worse.

                    2. His point, though, was that the government had no power to adjudicate the most efficient use of land through zoning. Absent transactions costs, it doesn’t matter whether they allocate in favor of the homeowners or in favor of the pig farmer.

                      You are ignoring my main point. For the private parties to come to an agreement requires the government, or someone, to decide who has a property right in clean air. There has to be an allocation. Does the pig farmer have the right to pollute the air by emitting a stench, or does the homeowner have the right to not have to put up with it?

                      Once that’s settled they can negotiate an arrangement – the homeowner can pay the farmer to move, or vice versa, for example.

                      You also overlook the fact that the assignment of the right does have implications for economic efficiency. This is because one party usually can mitigate the damage – the externality we are trying to eliminate – at lower cost than the other. It makes sense to assign the property right to the other party – thereby assigning liability to the party for whom mitigation is cheaper.

                      In fact, Coase discusses this point at length.

                  2. If you don’t like the restriction, don’t buy into the neighborhood.
                    See how that works?

                    1. This is an efficient explanation for the purpose of the restrictions.

                    2. What about someone who bought into the neighborhood before the restrictions were put in place?

              2. The reason restrictive zoning leads to increased property values is not because centrally planned zoning increases demand. It’s because centrally planned zoning decrease supply.

                Doubtful. Or at least a serious overstatement. Prices change because of the interplay of supply and demand. Zoning may well increase demand by making certain areas more attractive places to live. Martin’s prospective neighbors surely thought their housing values would decrease if Martin had been allowed to build.

                At the same time of course zoning often does decrease supply by making it more expensive to build housing. But that’s not the only effect.

                In the abstract the effect is ambiguous, though one or the other shifts may be the dominant one in some markets.

                1. “Zoning may well increase demand by making certain areas more attractive places to live. . . . In the abstract the effect is ambiguous, though one or the other shifts may be the dominant one in some markets.”

                  Besides the shortages, restrictive zoning can make demand higher, but not for any good reason. People who have a lot of money don’t like living near the poor. If you make it impossible for the poor to live someplace, the demand for rich people to move there will increase. I had assumed nobody here was going to defend that demand-drive aspect of restrictive zoning.

                  1. … restrictive zoning can make demand higher, but not for any good reason. People who have a lot of money don’t like living near the poor.

                    Did the Santa Fe residents object to Martin because he is poor?

                    Aesthetic pleasure is a bad reason? Knowing that the air won’t be polluted by emissions from nearby factories is a bad reason?

                    I had assumed nobody here was going to defend that demand-drive aspect of restrictive zoning.

                    Whether anyone defends it or not, it exists, as you now seem to agree.

                    1. “Aesthetic pleasure is a bad reason?”

                      I think it’s a terrible basis for zoning. It’s unlikely that a community has a collective will on aesthetic issues. But even if it did, it’s virtually impossible for a governmental entity to capture that community will. Aesthetic committees are always dominated by a minority of loud busybodies.

                      “Knowing that the air won’t be polluted by emissions from nearby factories is a bad reason?”

                      Zoning can’t prevent air pollution. It just moves it closer to poorer people.

                    2. Zoning can’t prevent air pollution. It just moves it closer to poorer people.

                      Of course it can’t prevent it in general, though it can restrict it to certain areas.

                      And I think, putting on my seldom-worn libertarian hat, that you have causation backwards. To some extent, air pollution doesn’t move closer to poor people, poor people move closer to air pollution, because prices in that neighborhood are lower.

                      That’s not to say that there isn’t a history of siting polluting facilities near poor residential areas. It would indeed be better if we simply tried to reduce the pollution. But, as matter of logic, poor people will tend to live in less attractive areas.

                    3. NToJ, take a look at the history of Georgetown, in DC. In the early 1950s it was a decrepit slum, for one reason. There was a rendering plant on the Georgetown waterfront.

                      The stench from that plant blighted more or less the entirety of what, after restrictive zoning got rid of the plant, became one of DC’s richest and most prestigious neighborhoods. Borne upward on that tide were some intrepid poor black people, who held on to Georgetown property which had been in their families for decades, when nobody else would have it. Like other Georgetown property owners—few of whom had been more rich and powerful than the kinds of people who normally own and live in blighted property—they became millionaires.

                      Turns out the highest and best use for Georgetown was not harboring a waterfront rendering plant. But it took government initiative to move the air pollution away from poor people to make that happen.

                    4. Stephen, a libertarian isn’t going to care about the fact that a good result was achieved. Only that somebody’s property rights weren’t absolutely respected. Good results, bad results, who cares? Let the heavens fall so long as nobody gets to tell me what to do,

                    5. @Stephen,

                      I agree completely that subjecting all alteration, demolition, or construction in Old Georgetown to the United States Commission of Fine Arts in 1950 through Public Law 808 had a profound effect on property values in Georgetown. One effect is that all the poors are now kept from living there, so they can commute from farther away.

                      It should be uncontroversial that the “highest and best use” for any space is affected by centrally planned government restrictions on permissible uses. If the goal is to increase Georgetown property values, I am certain I can do better even than the government did in the 1950s.

                    6. I think [aesthetic pleasure is] a terrible basis for zoning.

                      Whether it’s a good or bad reason, it clearly has an effect on demand.

                      Plus, there is a difference between agreeing on general architectural styles and arguing over minor details. I don’t think the former i sso hard.

                  2. “I think it’s a terrible basis for zoning. ”

                    But you’re wrong and was why the area was desirable in the first place. Use you money to buy a farm if you want to raise pigs.

                    1. And you have the absolute right to do so, until you infringe on the use and enjoyment of other people’s property, i.e. nuisance. Its all a balancing act. Indeed municipal restrictions and zoning are often unduly harsh, in Coral gables, Fl. until recently you could not park a pick up truck on your own private property. Bless the courts.

    2. preserve the historic character of Santa Fe’s architecture that blends so well into the environment

      This is rather giving the game away, eh? ‘I like the status quo’ is center-mass NIMBYism.

      Of course GRRM will be fine. But it’s a good hook on which to hang the larger issue of irrational market controls like zoning.

      1. irrational market controls like zoning.

        A problem with this discussion, IMO, is trying to talk about zoning broadly, without considering all the variations.

        Of course zoning might be irrational, or aimed at ulterior purposes, but it can also be used to protect from nuisances.

        To claim that zoning is “irrational” is simply an overgeneralization.

        1. Oh, don’t take me for a complete anti-zoning guy like NToJ. I just think you need to look at the NIMBY effects and look at things like ‘keeping the character of the neighborhood’ with a jaundiced eye.

        2. But nuisance law already protects from nuisances; you don’t need zoning for that.

  3. Solution: Buy real estate where there are no zoning restrictions or where they are compatible with one’s plans for their land and improvements.

    Communities should have the right to legislate re improvement footprints, easements, height limits, and aesthetics, to include as pertaining to historic or otherwise character. While local review boards are a pain in the behind and subject to corruption, there still is a need for localities to be able to hew to their infrastructure needs and preferred identity and look.

    Many communities are just fine with a random mix, and that works, too. Vote with your feet and buy into those areas with fewer or no zoning restrictions. Btw, are you also advocating the abolition of no zoning with respect to residential vs. commercial improvements, and no matter the type of commercial establishment?

    1. “Solution: Buy real estate where there are no zoning restrictions or where they are compatible with one’s plans for their land and improvements.”

      It’s government zoning. If you buy into an area with no zoning, that doesn’t give you the right to prevent the government from zoning it in the future. Where government restrictions are concerned, why is the onus on private citizens to move around to avoid government? If governments want to preserve the look or feel for an area, they can develop it and lease it out. Alternatively, if there is value to master-planning, developers, including public developers, can purchase large swaths of land and “hew to [the] infrastructure needs and preferred identity and look” through restrictive covenants.

      Why is the presumption that poor people have to move around government, rather than government doing what it wants by moving around the poor?

      1. Unlike how you and Somin frame the issue, this is very little about “poor” versus better-off people.

        Re-gentrification of communities does pose a big problem for the working and underclasses, and that’s a big issue with me, but they generally, and most unfortunately, either get displaced by rising rents or property taxes; as renters, they tend to move out or, as homeowners, can at least sell higher, if they cannot afford the taxes.

        The “poor” seldom plan on vanity major improvements to their properties that would run afoul of local building and aesthetic zoning regulations.

        1. Also, government is always making new law and restrictions over everything and everywhere. No one is shielded from such imposition.

          1. So are you a nihilist? All laws are good laws because “no one is shielded from such imposition”?

            1. NToJ: “So are you a nihilist? All laws are good laws because ‘no one is shielded from such imposition”?

              Say what? This is what I clearly said: “[G]overnment is always making new law and restrictions over everything and everywhere. No one is shielded from such imposition.”

              I did not say what you disingenuously asserted. Why would I call such imposed laws and regs an imposition if I thought they were all “good”, as you misattributed to me?

              We are all subject to the law changing at every level of government at all times. Some things and transactions get grandfathered, and others not. That’s not on me, and you know it. That you don’t always argue in good faith is clear.

                1. You’re playing that pervy game?

                  Then, GOOD AFTERNOON, MADAM.

                    1. AND I SAID GOOD AFTERNOON, MADAM.

                      At least I use a comma.

        2. “…this is very little about “poor” versus better-off people.”

          Like everywhere else, there are poor people in Santa Fe. It is about them.

          “The “poor” seldom plan on vanity major improvements to their properties that would run afoul of local building and aesthetic zoning regulations.”

          Where restrictive zoning makes purchasing a home impossible for the poor, they never get the opportunity to fight with the city over aesthetic zoning. As you noted, the only opportunity the poor have to live in restrictive zoning jurisdictions is to rent. Developers who construct rental properties are rich enough to fight with cities over “vanity major improvements”. And when the city imposes costs on the developers, they pass those down to the poor renters. The costs for central planning generally trickles down to the poor, as they (at the bottom) are the only ones with neither the resources nor the political power to shift costs elsewhere.

      2. ” If you buy into an area with no zoning, that doesn’t give you the right to prevent the government from zoning it in the future.”

        If you can buy enough of the land, then you can control the government and thus the zoning. See, e.g., DisneyWorld resorts. Disney owns all the land, and is the local government. Of course, few of us can play on that scale.

    2. So NIMBY is totally fine by you.

      1. Its fine with everyone, its a matter of the level one accepts before one balks.

    3. “Communities” really means governments run by corrupt cronies at the expense of the true spontaneously organized communities of individuals.

      You guys toss around “communities” and like phrases as if they are somehow intelligent beings with human rights, all the while ignoring the individuals who lose to the corrupt cronies.

      1. I sat on one of those review boards and then quit it when the corruption was evident. To me, the only thing worse than zoning controls is the specter of individuals and speculators buying into intact neighborhoods and trying to exempt their property development from, all be they imperfectly, agreed upon standards of aesthetics and function.

        1. “I sat on one of those review boards…”

          Hahaha of course you did!

          1. If you’re calling me a liar, then prove it, or I shall think you really hate poor people and only use them for your marxist intentions.

            You can’t put me on the defensive. You clearly have the problem.

            1. “If you’re calling me a liar…”

              The opposite.

              1. Why must you persist in personal attacks? Tell us about your childhood and get it off your chest, maybe.

                I am not a controller type, but you seem to be. Will never tolerate corruption and lower-order power manipulators. Whether in government or on this board, these types tend toward cheap shots and underhanded character assassinations to bolster their agendas.

                Nevertheless, most of us here can still see the need for government and community agreement at different levels, and I’ll not take the blame or credit for such an obvious foundational principle of our (diminishingly credible and effective) government.

      2. You are starting to sound like something out of Monty Python. NIMBY is real and its not going anywhere. Don’t like it, vote early and often.

  4. This follows the thought process that anyone who shows up on a given day gets to decide for the people already there.

    No one can build a community with a standard for any sort of behavior or membership. As soon as they do, people show up and undo it all. Showing up and undoing what others built is defended, protecting and maintaining it is attacked.

    1. What are your feelings about restrictive covenants, Ben?

      1. Yes, because not being able to build a medieval castle is exactly the same thing as a black family not being able to buy a house.

        Try reading your posts before you hit SUBMIT.

        1. It’s the same principle, even if one victim is more sympathetic than the other.

          1. No, it isn’t the same principle.

            Ben’s point is that a community should be able to have standards, and if you move in, then you should be required to maintain those standards, at least in the outward appearance of your house.

            The issue is, what are the “standards.” If the standards are all white community, or no blacks allowed, or no Jews allowed, then it is fair for the law to say, those standards are not something we are going to help you uphold.

            But if the standards are, consistent with the architectural design of the neighborhood, or with other legitimate considerations, then his point is valid. (Other legitimate considerations could include age, my parents live in a retirement community where you cannot purchase a home unless you are at least 50. I see nothing wrong with that.)

            Point is, not all “standards” that a community wants to enforce are the same, either morally or legally.

            1. But all you’re doing here is arguing a tautology: you like some standards because they’re legitimate, and these standards are legitimate because you like them.

              No doubt that that there some standards I like better than others, too. But why should my preferences matter to the property holder that doesn’t share them?

              1. Because unless you buy an isolated property, you live near someone else and effect them, and vice versa.

                Our town gives out warnings and then tickets for not cutting your lawn. Why should the town dictate to me how Iong my grass is on my property? Because if it doesn’t, my property becomes an eyesore at the least, and possibly a hiding place for vermin.

                That’s the point, when you live in a community, and houses are close, then what you do, at least outwardly, affects others, and vice-versa.

                That the neighbor sells to a black family instead of a white family does not, per se, effect me in any rational way, and enforcing a restrictive covenant affects society as a whole in negative ways.

                1. Your example is a bad one. Cutting lawns isn’t for preventing vermin nuisances (we already have nuisance law to do that). It’s to preserve the neighborhood, increase property values through shortage, and punish eccentrics. When local governments used restrictive zoning to keep racial minorities out, the argument was that selling “to a black family instead of a white family” did in fact “[a]ffect” the other owners in the neighborhood. It brought property values down because white people didn’t want to live next to black people. That didn’t make it right for white people to tell their white neighbor that he couldn’t sell to a willing black purchaser.

              2. All public policy things are a matter of judgment. The law will not enforce certain contracts because they violate public policy. Most contracts, OTOH, will be enforced.

                You can make the same argument — the two sides made a private bargain, embodied it in a contract, so whose business is it what the terms are? But as you certainly know, sometimes a court will say no.

              3. I think it is possible to distinguish these things.

                It is one thing to have standards as to the design of structures and the uses to which they may be put, and something very different to have “standards” as to who may live in or own those structures.

        2. I think the main question is whether every consideration about everything is infinitely subservient to race politics and woke religious purity.

          If it is, then forget about anything else and look forward to seeing unlimited evil that you’ll be told to applaud because it’s virtuous in the one way that matters.

          If it’s not the only thing that matters, then we should be able to have discussions and make choices that balance multiple interests and attempt to respect everyone involved.

      2. I’d say there are choices between infinite, unbounded rules versus no rules at all.

        What are you always saying about excluding the middle? If you want to put down excluding the middle, then don’t do it.

        My point was about Somin. Taking the side of people who recently arrived and have contributed nothing against the people who built the community. It’s consistent.

        The right answer respects both sides.

        1. Right, but as noted above your argument supports both. What is your limiting principle?

          Taking the side of people who recently arrived and have contributed nothing against the people who built the community

          And this is basically the Know-Nothing Party returned.

          1. Weird that you resort to name-calling without even attempting an argument.

            1. Ben_,

              What name did he call you?

              1. “Know-nothing party” is name-calling. It’s not even in the same ballpark as an argument or some on-topic discussion.

                1. The name “Know Nothing” is not an opprobrium. The original movement was secret, and members self-identified by responding “I know nothing” when asked about their activities. Outsiders called them “Know Nothings” at first, but the name caught on within the organization. Here’s a party ticket. Note the “K.N.” at the top. Millard Fillmore ran as a Know Nothing candidate in the 1856 presidential election, and picked up 21.5% of the vote as a third-party candidate.

                  1. Ok, whatever. I’m not even going to bother looking that up to see whether it’s fictional. Because who cares?

                    If your point is that Sarcastr0, rather than failing to communicate by name-calling, failed to communicate by making an obscure reference to ancient history with totally unexplained relevance, then ok. That’s just a guess. Neither one of you seem to be able to communicate clearly or directly.

                    Consider paying attention to people in the present instead of searching out vague historical parallels to impress yourself with.

                    1. My issue is not with you the commenter, it’s with the portion of the comment I italicized, which seems to be hewing to a nativist philosophy that America has not had a great time with in the past.

                    2. So people who build and pay to maintain a civil society and a community shouldn’t get much if any say in their community’s future because … you have complaints about something from history.

                      Civic-mindedness is for suckers then. No reason for anyone to build anything when random people will just show up and burn it down or take it. And you’ll help them do it, because race grievances and complaints about history matter more than quality of life for people in the present and future.

                    3. Rolling moral hazard on newcomers ignores just about our entire history.

                      Not building things because someone else might get to enjoy it is a spiteful and antisocial way to think of things.

                      Not letting in newcomers just in case someone has the above spiteful philosophy is even further afield of normal thinking.

                    4. Why work an extra day only to have your wages stolen by the tax man? Why store inventory for looters to steal? Why build structures for arsonists to burn? Why invest time or effort or money when people are out there promising to make sure you or your family or people you care about will never see a return?

                      Call it “spite” if you like. It’s a normal, rational reaction humans tend to have to wrongdoers.

                      You think complaining about people reacting to being threatened or harmed makes anything any different?

  5. I somehow don’t feel myself crying too much of a river for Mr. Martin’s right to build a humongous something that will block his neighbors virews.

    1. They don’t own the views. If they want to maintain them, they can build higher, purchase the lot, or pay Mr. Martin enough to build someplace else.

      Buying dirt doesn’t entitle you to tell your neighbor what to do with their dirt. Why do people think this?

      1. NT,
        Not every city needs architectural cancer growing on its geography. Central San Francisco is a case in point; the Salesforce Tower is only the latest abomination.

        1. The people who designed and built it don’t think it is “architectural cancer”. Maybe you aren’t the God of Architecture?

          1. What if the tower gave off a strong, obnoxious, but harmless, odor? Would that be OK?

  6. NT,
    Well, if zoning restrictions were in place when those neighbors bought their own houses, then buying dirt *does* entitle you to tell your neighbors, right? Here, isn’t it Martin who is saying, “Everyone else had to follow planning and zoning laws, but I want to be an exception.”?

    Note: I’m not saying what I think the law school be…just observing that neighborhood building restrictions are not the tiniest bit unusual.

    I’ll also observe that in my parents’ nice (but not fancy) residential neighborhood, one person put up a huge rectangle, 40 feet high and almost all of the lot’s footprint. Surrounded by modest one- and two-story houses. Destroying the look of the entire block. Later sales of houses on the block confirmed that this eyesore had immediately knocked off 15-20% of the homes’ values. Even today, 20 years later, that house is known as “the Monstrosity.” I admit to being far from unbiased about this issue.

    1. You are exactly on point.

    2. “Well, if zoning restrictions were in place when those neighbors bought their own houses, then buying dirt *does* entitle you to tell your neighbors, right?”

      This is a reliance argument. But since zoning laws can be repealed, the possibility of that repeal (on the allegedly reliant purchaser) was already priced into the property.

      If you aren’t making a reliance argument, could you be clearer about your claim? “I had to incur cost X unfairly, therefore it is appropriate for everyone else to incur cost X” is not persuasive, at least to me.

      “Later sales of houses on the block confirmed that this eyesore had immediately knocked off 15-20% of the homes’ values.”

      I doubt this anecdote since it’s familiar enough to sound like that time my grandmother saw a panhandler get into a BMW. But: How did you and your family come to conclude that the value of the homes in the neighborhood took such a monstrous dip from just one property? Did everyone buy into the neighborhood the day before the Monstrosity, and then sell the day after for the depressed prices? The counterfactual you depend on is incredibly difficult to calculate. And to the extent the Monstrosity was always possible in this neighborhood, why wasn’t it priced into the original home purchases by you or your family? If when your family purchased they wanted to live in a neighborhood free from interference with “the look of the entire block”, why did they buy in a neighborhood with no horizontal covenants re: aesthetics? Because it sounds to me like they wanted the “look” of a neighborhood without paying the premium to enforce that look, in which case they’re victims only of their own short-sightedness.

  7. “They don’t own the views. If they want to maintain them, they can build higher, purchase the lot, or pay Mr. Martin enough to build someplace else.”

    True. Their neighbors should be able to raze their in-keeping-with- the-neighborhood structures and build higher and higher and in whatever vogue they wish. What a lovely community it would be, with FU castles and spite towers all around.

    Meanwhile, community consensus and regulation should not mean a damn.

    1. “What a lovely community it would be, with FU castles and spite towers all around.”

      Doubtful. The reason the rich Martin moved into the neighborhood in the first place was because it’s strictly zoned and therefore the dirt values are outrageously expensive, resulting in good school districts, etc. If other rich eccentrics could build castles there, I doubt Mr. Martin would want to build castles there. I’m not sympathizing with him.

      “Meanwhile, community consensus and regulation should not mean a damn.”

      Since community consensus almost always results in communities kicking the poor out, someone is going to have to lose. It’s either going to be “community consensus,” or the poor. Note that the “consensus” itself is the result of decades of pushing the poor out of jurisdictions through, for example, restrictive zoning.

      Government action is often the result of a fight by and between voters. It’s easier to develop a consensus that benefits voters today by punishing people trying to become voters tomorrow. All democratic power structures that persevere have this feature. That doesn’t make them right.

      1. What you said here in so many words and sloganeering is complete garbage. It’s painful to behold.

  8. In this particular case, I think society writ large would have been better off if Martin had been told, “You can build anything you want here. BUT ONLY AFTER you finish your fucking book series!!!” 🙂

    1. Nah, not after Book 6.

    2. “In this particular case, I think society writ large would have been better off if Martin had been told, ‘You can build anything you want here. BUT ONLY AFTER you finish your fucking book series!!!'”

      “Fine! It’s done!”

  9. In buying and improving properties, I have always stayed true to the local character of a neighborhood and structure, whether dictated by law or no. It’s a congenial community thing to do, and nearly always more profitable.

    Have no problem with individual architectural expression, but this is rarely an issue with the poor and more that of middle class vanity or vision, and which I believe should occur where welcome and lawful.

    Meanwhile, the consistency and rhythm of previously built homes and streets, sense of solidity, permanence, and coherence gets constantly interrupted by speculator contractors and spectacular egoists doing whatever they wish in formerly charming neighborhoods. The old trees go as they build lot line to lot line and the equivalent of three stories high which dwarf all of the surrounding more vintage houses.

    Advocates of no zoning or no private deed restrictions don’t seem to want intact residential neighborhoods or any sense of history. Or any sense of community self-rule.

    1. Advocates of no zoning or no private deed restrictions don’t seem to want intact residential neighborhoods or any sense of history. Or any sense of community self-rule.

      First, I know of nobody who is an advocate of both no zoning and no private deed restrictions.

      Second, yes, this of course does come down to collectivism vs. individualism. “Community self rule” is just a euphemism; it actually means majority rule over the minority.

      1. So, you’re for no government as currently constitued in the US whatsoever?

      2. “I know of nobody who is an advocate of both no zoning and no private deed restrictions.”

        So, where above in the post and comments do you see those who support private deed restrictions but not zoning laws? Wouldn’t private deed restrictions be deemed as guilty of disadvantaging poor people or middle-class vanity or profiteering as municipal zoning laws?

        Seriously, could you make the argument for one and not the other?

        1. “Wouldn’t private deed restrictions be deemed as guilty of disadvantaging poor people or middle-class vanity or profiteering as municipal zoning laws?”

          In practice, no, since there aren’t many developers who can afford to buy an entire city. But if such developers exist, yea, it would probably lead to the same effects as zoning.

          “Seriously, could you make the argument for one and not the other?”

          Private deed restrictions are private parties deciding how to use land they own. Zoning laws are public acts prohibiting private parties from deciding how to use land they own. It’s a category error to treat them as the same thing.

          1. So, you’re now on record as supporting private deed restrictions.

            1. Yes, I support the right of people to make private, enforceable transactions…? How do you think ever HOA in the country works?

              1. In another comment of yours, you deride HOA enforcement. You’re all over the map. Your arguments will never be consisent because they’re partisan and opportunistic.

                1. In another comment of yours, you deride HOA enforcement.

                  No; he derides HOA enforcers.

                  Your arguments will never be consisent because they’re partisan

                  That word doesn’t mean what you think it means.

                  1. Brilliant, David Nieporent. NtoJ supports HOA enforcement but disparages HOA enforcers. You both should run for HOA boards and show those pathetic peoples how to do their usually unpaid jobs. Perhaps hand out candy at meetings and make ballon animals?

                    As for me, I naturally chafe at all authority, but do appreciate how well-written and reasonable deed restrictions make better neighbors, keep a neighborhood aesthetically intact, and, to an extent, protect property value. Since the process to create deed restrictions is rather onerous for already built neighborhoods, historic designations and restrictions of some sort are easier to implement, given a healthy level of owner support.

    2. “…I have always stayed true to the local character of a neighborhood and structure…”

      Impossible, since the land you lived on was once uninhabited. You can only develop a “local character” if development occurs at some point. Every act of preservation is a successful attack on some future local character from developing.

      Only a busybody who lacks any self-awareness could simultaneously assert her idea of “charming neighborhoods” is sacrosanct while calling everyone else “spectacular egoists” for disagreeing.

      1. God, you’re tedious.

        1. I consider it a badge of honor to be called tedious by the sort of person who would sit for one second on a local review board. You can make my day if you next tell me you once sat on an HOA but also think I’m being petty.

          1. It was a local historic architectural review board, and it was too political and capricious.

            Do you enjoy personal attacks? Do you hate people who enjoy their, so far, mostly unsullied modest black, white, and latino neighborhoods? One by one, their houses are being razed for higher income demographic constituents, especially close to downtown.

            You claim to be for the poor, but your arguments only support the well-to-do and progressive urban planners who wish to transplant these inner-city classes into multi-family dwellings or push them to the crumbling suburbs.

            1. “You claim to be for the poor, but your arguments only support the well-to-do and progressive urban planners who wish to transplant these inner-city classes into multi-family dwellings…”

              The only way for the poor to ever be able to afford proximity to urban centers is to build multi-family dwellings. The poor who are moved out by gentrification are not worse off; they voluntarily sell their property to willing purchasers and get rich. (See Stephen Lathrop’s point above about Georgetown.) If there is a predominantly minority neighborhood that is turning over, it is because the predominantly minority people who live in the neighborhood are trying to sell their property to others. You’re the one telling them they shouldn’t be allowed to do that. How is that “progressive”?

              1. Many working class homeowners and renters of all ethnicities enjoy having yards and living in recognizable, intact neighborhoods whose streets accommodate bicycles and dodge ball games. You so love “the poor” you would encourage them to sell out their neighbors and radically change or tear down their communities for the grand opportunity to buy or rent overpriced condos or apartments.

                Btw, it’s usually realtors and developers who initiate the razing and turning over of neighborhoods. In most inner cities, a more gentle form of (re-)gentrification, (and it’s also a problem), is usually done by young couples without children, at the start, and gays who renovate and retain the vintage character of an area, instead of demolishing it. Prices rise and many long-time residents cannot afford the taxes or rents and have to move away, but the rehabber gentry at least respect the style and scale of the houses and yards.

                Very few “get rich”, other than multi property-owning landlords, when cashing out of these areas, because they have to live somewhere and mortgages and rents in the city aren’t cheap, even for those impersonal multi-family apartments and condos you would have “the poor” move to. Increasingly, “the poor” cannot afford to buy or rent houses in the city, especially in safe, intact neighborhoods. Their children grow up in apartments in densely developed areas or out in the suburbs, the first ring of which is usually aged and no longer desirable for the middle classes. At least in suburbia, the children have yards and bicycle opportunity, but the adults have to have reliable transportation and commute to work or find other work locally, which is doable, except during the Quarantine and Business Shutdown Age.

                Perhaps a bigger property tax break for long-time residents and landlords who keep the rents affordable would ease some of the pressure to sell out these intact inner city neighborhoods, but the power brokers want to take their prime real estate for themselves and their Great Reset urban vision. They would cluster the poor, neatly tucked out of sight, and build over where they once lived. They would sell us new, large, overpriced Smart homes and planned communities with no architectural appeal or patina of timeworn love and continuity, but now we wealthier types of all rces would be close to town.

                That’s Progress, right?

  10. Homeowner’s associations are bad for similar reasons. Proponents of HOAs claim that people choose to live in them, but often there is no real choice outside of HOA properties. Where I live, the county government has required all new developments to include an HOA since at least the mid-1980s. County governments love HOAs because they get new taxpayers without the burden of having to maintain common property. Developers love HOAs because with them, the county gives them permission to squeeze even more McHouses onto ever-tinier plats of land, and the developer controls the neighborhood until all houses are sold. Homeowners love HOAs because they have fallen for baseless claims that HOAs “improve property values.” Or . . . more commonly . . . homeowners put up with HOAs because that’s all they could find. Evan McKenzie has written about these issues: http://privatopia.blogspot.com/

    1. The market for HOA controlled properties should properly drop to insignificance. The totalitarian tendencies at this level can be intolerable, and so caveat emptor.

      1. YMMV. My last house had a HOA that had no teeth, so they requested HOA fees from homeowners, and had no power to levy fines or other penalties.

    2. County governments love HOAs because they get new taxpayers without the burden of having to maintain common property.”

      I currently live in a home bound to an HOA, and the city government literally just finished repaving all the streets just last week.

    3. That is why I have a house built in the 60s. I hate HOAs!

  11. Surely he has enough money to just buy a castle that’s already been built in an area zoned for castles.

    Blackberry Castle, located in Portland’s Forest Park area at 14125 N.W. Germantown Road , is currently available. Originally listed at 7.1 million, it’s currently listed at a more budget-friendly price of only 4 million. And Portland is known to be friendly to book-people, being the home of Powell’s Books. More specifically, Portland friendly to science-fiction and fantasy book people, hosting the annual Orycon convention in early November.

    1. Good suggestion James.

  12. I amazed that so many of you all are pro zoning. Booooo!

    Yes, I agree that we probably don’t want a neighborhood next to an oil refinery, though in Wilmington CA and other replaces, the housing gets really close. And nobody is saying that we don’t need building codes and guidelines to make sure we do things right.

    But, this is hardly that. I believe in freedom, and if you want to build an ugly castle, I say, you should be able to do that Mr. Martin. I’d say this is really where you know of you believe in the basic ideas of Libertarians.. Of course, he can probably just buy some land 10 or 20 miles away From the original proposed location and build a castle there, since a lot of New Mexico is very rural, but that is not the point. My rambling point is that local permitting powers are way too extensive and in my belief, illegal. Why can’t I build a 6 foot fence in my front yard? Not according to my local building department.

  13. Fer chrissakes a millionaire cannot build his castle keep in a historic district and this is about low income housing

    If you wonder why libertarianism is BS, there it is

  14. “by persuading suburbanites that he is the only thing that stands between them and an influx of supposedly dangerous minorities.”

    You just had to go there, didn’t you?

    Look, I live in a suburban neighborhood. Already mixed race, so nobody gives a damn about “an influx of supposedly dangerous minorities”.

    What we DO give a damn about is a community of people who own their own homes ending up politically dominated by people living in apartment buildings, who have different incentives when it comes to local government policies, and less to lose if the place goes down hill and they end up moving away, because it’s no skin off their noses if the property values go down.

    1. In my largely bi-coastal experience, while those who own their own homes is indeed multiracial.
      But those who live in higher-density apartments are generally nonwhite.

      We will never be able to untangle the cause versus effect of that fact, but it’s part of the mix.
      One cannot argue minorities gotta bootstrap it while at the same time restricting their suburban property options.

      1. Sure you can. I just looked it up: The suburb I live in is 63% white, 25% black, 6% Hispanic. I think my street is more like 40% black.

        The idea that people in this town object to apartment buildings going up all over the place because of the RACE of the people in them is absurd. The racial demographics of this area are actually getting whiter, as the people moving in due to the good local economy are mostly white.

        Now, if you were complaining about the local trailer park, you might have a point, but nobody is building new trailer parks around here. The new apar

      2. “those who live in higher-density apartments are generally nonwhite.”

        Visit “felony flats” in Portland, OR.

  15. Lol, “victim”!

    That evil zoning. If only he had an HOA instead, then he could build any ridiculous structure he wants.

    But sure, Ilya would love to have a castle in his neighborhood. At least up to the point someone proposes one.

    Although, I do find it interesting that “foot voting” works in virtually every other context. In the context of “But this is where I bought land” it’s the local rules that need ease on down the road.

    Thank you. You’ve been great. Tip the veal.

    1. Yup. I’m personally sympathetic to his desire for a castle. I mean, who doesn’t want a castle? And if he’d been willing to build it a few feet shorter, he could have gotten away with it.

      But he should buy some land out in the boonies somewhere, rather than expecting to build one is an established neighborhood. That’s just common sense.

      1. Actual stone walls would be better for those who’d like to explore the ‘Castle Doctrine’ version of self-defense via firearm. Keeps your bullets in your house, rather than the street outside your house.

  16. I consider “historic preservation” to be a bad, unjustified reason for zoning, but I do have a certain sympathy for NIMBYs otherwise. Too often, the developers of Large Projects will promise promise promise that their Large Project will have certain Good Effects, and that the Bad Consequences feared from the Large Project will never ever ever happen.

    Then, once the Large Project is built, the Good Effects go missing, the Bad Consequences put in their appearance, and the developers say “Sorry, suckers. You’ve got a fait accompli and there’s no reversing it now.” So when faced with a developer proposing a Large Project in their neighborhood, it’s understandable that people be skeptical and even hostile.

  17. This is one of the least libertarian comment threads I’ve ever seen on Volokh, wow. Since when is “because I think it looks better this way” a remotely acceptable basis for banning people from using their own property in ways they desire?

    Because property values? Really? Yes, what I do with my house might affect your property values. But you have NO ENTITLEMENT to the value that I create for you anyway. Your house is worth more because I do certain things with my own house next door? That’s fine, but you have zero right to that value, because I created it, not you, and if you lose that value in the future, that’s just too bad.

  18. A higher value for your home does you no good unless and until you decide to sell. In the meantime, it brings you higher property tax bills.

    1. James, you explain very simply the original motivation for CA’s prop 13.

      1. The obvious solution, is to stop taxing current value and base property taxes on the last transacted value. So, if you buy your house for $400,000, your property taxes will be based on a value of $400,000 for as long as you own it. If the little old lady who lives next door to you paid $60,000 for hers, her taxes are based on a value of $60,000, and your house selling at $400,000 doesn’t affect her taxes at all. SHE didn’t get any of that 400K.
        For business property, you’ll need a different trigger for reassessment.

        1. “The obvious solution, is to stop taxing current value and base property taxes on the last transacted value. So, if you buy your house for $400,000, your property taxes will be based on a value of $400,000 for as long as you own it. If the little old lady who lives next door to you paid $60,000 for hers, her taxes are based on a value of $60,000, and your house selling at $400,000 doesn’t affect her taxes at all. SHE didn’t get any of that 400K.”

          That’s not a bad idea, at first blush. Could be a financial incentive for homeowners and landlords to keep their inner city properties maintained and neighborhoods more aesthetically and demographically intact, rather than raze and rebuild them for the invasion of the new-monied professionals.

  19. Before I left Oregon, I had a jury summons.

    The case I got seated for involved a home in a “historic” neighborhood, where the houses all had adobe siding. The homeowners alleged that the adobe contractor used poor workmanship in installing adobe on the sides of a home in Portland, OR, while the contractor countered that there was nothing wrong with their workmanship, and (an array of others) was responsible for the water intrusion into the house. We on the jury were not allowed to question the wisdom of trying to use adobe in Oregon’s damp climate, because the sole reason for choosing adobe was to match the other home in the neighborhood. So we had each side putting up their experts on what the proper standard for applying adobe siding and explaining how the adobe is supposed to perform.

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