Public PolicyRuminations

The dangers of dismantling local zoning rules

Well said Joel Kotkin!

Zoning rules have become a target in many libertarian circles. Joel Kotkin who I believe is strongly inclined to libertarian views — as am I — points to dangers in this post.

Id make the argument differently — invoking Jane Jacobs and Elinor Ostrom — but end up in the same place.There are many externalities in housing choices, financial, aesthetic and otherwise. And local conventions, communities, and governments are best positioned to control them. They can certainly get them wrong. Local communities can be racist and intolerant for example. And city governments can be captured by loonies. (I’m thinking of your, Cambridge and Berkeley) 

But override local traditions and rules at your peril.

Also, the cure for high prices is high prices. Housing in Cambridge may be “unaffordable.” But there is ample scope for commercial development a mile away in the run down parts of Somerville and Medford — which high Cambridge prices encourage. To the benefit of Somerville and Medford. Likewise if high SF prices encourage people to move away, whats wrong with that? SF itself was built up by people moving form elsewhere. I don’t live where I was born, nor did my parents, their parents…

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