Tag: zoning

Urban planner and Mercatus Center scholar M. Nolan Gray joins Brian Anderson to discuss municipal zoning’s past, present, and future. His new book, Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It, is out now.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer research analyst Andrew Mikula about the need for affordable housing near the mass transit network and the requirements and local design opportunities of the 3A zoning reform law. Read Pioneer Institute’s recent public comment on this topic.


Steven Malanga joins Seth Barron to discuss efforts to restrict dollar stores in cities across the country—the subject of Malanga’s popular story for City Journal, “Unjust Deserts.”

For nearly 20 years, “food deserts”—neighborhoods without supermarkets—have captured the attention of public officials, activists, and the media, who often blame the situation on dollar-discount stores in these areas. These stores, it’s claimed, drive out supermarkets with their low prices and saturate poor neighborhoods with junk food. But are dollar stores really to blame for bad diets?

Autumn Colors: The Color of Law, an in-depth review


When people are free to associate as they please, we can’t be surprised if they sometimes self-segregate. People self-sort along many affinities, including ethnic affinities. This is what lawyers call de facto segregation, and it’s none of the law’s business. De jure segregation — segregation imposed by law, including segregation promoted by public policy — is, on the other hand, very much the law’s business.

In 1866, Congress passed a Civil Rights Act (the 1866 CRA) asserting the equal rights of blacks before the law, including property rights, and real-estate rights in particular. The 1866 CRA warned

Richard Epstein looks at how both federal interference and local regulations conspire to drive up the cost of housing.

Richard Epstein describes how government interventions have driven the Golden State’s housing prices to extraordinary heights.

Richard Epstein looks at New York’s recent efforts to crack down on the short-term home rentals offered by Airbnb.

Zoning Rules! The Rise of Zoning, Suburbia, and the Homevoter


A joint review of William Fischel’s “Zoning Rules!” and “The Homevoter Hypothesis”

What if you could purchase membership in a full-service residential club guaranteeing you not only a nice neighborhood for your house, but also insurance against loss of property value in your home? Perhaps such a club sounds like a private planned development run by a homeowner association. And perhaps it could be. But according to William Fischel in Zoning Rules!, it also describes the zoned residential suburb.

Zoning came late to US land use, not arriving until the 1910s. Moreover, when zoning first appeared, its constitutionality wasn’t obvious. After all, when a municipality imposes a zoning ordinance, it confiscates certain rights of use from the landholders subject to the ordinance. This is an uncompensated partial taking of property. Municipalities are creatures of the state they’re incorporated in, meaning the state permits them to inherit its taxing, police, and eminent domain powers. There’s no question, then, that municipalities can constitutionally take property from their residents under certain conditions. Even so, taking by eminent domain should involve just compensation. Furthermore, most of us consider it unjust for the state to usurp one party’s property rights for another party’s private benefit, even with compensation (see Kelo). Zoning’s practical effect is often to do just that – to take property rights from landowners interested in certain forms development in order to benefit landowners opposed to those forms of development. Why is this even allowed?

Un-Planning, A Manifesto


Do you hate city planners? Do you wish the New Urbanists would leave us all alone? Yes and yes? Then beware of reflexively defending the status quo, because the status quo is in no small part the handiwork of old city planners.

As Matty Van recently pointed out, a non-negligible portion of what the New Urbanists call our “over-reliance on cars” is due to former city planners and other central authorities having planned it that way.