Land use and zoning roundup

  • Minneapolis enacts major relaxation of residential zoning, issue has united ideological opposites [Ilya Somin; Christian Britschgi; Somin on developments elsewhere]
  • “The Disconnect Between Liberal Aspirations and Liberal Housing Policy Is Killing Coastal U.S. Cities” [Better Institutions]
  • “Steelmanning the NIMBYs” [Scott Alexander, and a response from Michael Lewyn] Ben Carson battles the NIMBYs [Christian Britschgi]
  • “The use of new urbanist codes to promote inner-suburban renewal pose two distinct problems,” erosion of rule of law and high compliance costs [Nicole Garnett at Hoover conference on “Land, Labor, and the Rule of Law,” related video]
  • Obscure zoning change could give NYC politicos a lot of new leverage over hotel developers [Britschgi]
  • Cities are primarily labor markets, ordinances to suppress informal shanty town settlements commonly fail, and more insights from new Alain Bertaud book on markets and cities [Tyler Cowen]


  • Naperville, Il is a nice microcosm of what can be done right in housing. It is a fairly prosperous town with good schools and high property taxes. Some areas are zoned for single family homes (a neighborhood) but in between are many blocks of townhomes and other blocks of apartments. There are some apartments close enough to shopping that some people without cars are able to function. In the downtown, which is popular, old homes (100+ yrs) could have been labeled “historic” but were not. Tallish apartment buildings have gone up right in the downtown area. Zoning has allowed controlled growth but not strangulation.
    While many people aspire to live in a single family home with a yard, the downtown of a major city, where many people work, really needs to allow multi-family (ie apartments). Otherwise minorities and the young are priced right out of the market. Some cities are so restrictive that lots sent empty.

  • It all comes down to “There’s a problem and I’m going to make you do something about it.” Why, New York’s brilliant mayor has said that there’s plenty of money in the city; it’s just in the wrong hands.

    Given that the just shy of $89 billion flows through the control of Mr. De Blasio and associates every year, I agree.


  • That Tyler Cowen piece about Indonesia’s “kampungs” outlines a practical approach to improving conditions for some of their poorest. I can’t think of a way it would work here. No development fees going to city coffers. The residents would protest about gentrification. Many of our worst residential areas are places nobody wants to live any more (Detroit isn’t the labor market it used to be). And our Health & Safety and Building codes make no provision for non-conforming residential developments. Regarding this last, you can bet the professional community organizers would howl to Jupiter if such a thing were suggested.