Land use and zoning roundup

  • California delay: “NIMBYs get to file until 90 days ‘after the current state of emergency ends.” In other words, no one can know when they are free to build so the law could put every CA construction project that hasn’t already past CEQA review into limbo.’ [Alex Tabarrok, earlier on CEQA] “San Francisco Bureaucrats Can Shoot Down Almost Any Housing Project They Want. This Ballot Initiative Would Change That.” [Christian Britschgi]
  • Local building-stopping regs have national economic implications: “If America’s three most productive cities relaxed their planning regulations to the same level as the median U.S. city, real per capita income [for *all* Americans] would rise by about 8.2%.” Conversely: “If you were to force America’s 11 largest cities to be no larger than Miami, real income per American would fall by 7.9%.” [Tyler Cowen]
  • In western U.S., value of implicit firefighting subsidy “can exceed 20% of a home’s value… and decreases surprisingly steeply with development density” [Patrick Baylis, Judson Boomhower, NBER]
  • Review of “Order Without Design” by Alain Bertaud [Scott Beyer]
  • Not new, but well worth a read: overlap between libertarian and Strong Towns ideas [Andrew Burleson, 2013]
  • “‘I asked the park representatives if there was any way we could negotiate on this, and they told me, “The time for talking is over. We’re taking this property.”‘” Bike path eminent domain [Steve Malanga, WSJ/Manhattan Institute]


  • regarding the rails to trails–if the government pays for it and fairly, it gets to take the property.

    The issue is the “fairly” part.

    • Several years ago a railroad gave up their right of way for a line. Under the agreement when the right of way was created the property was supposed to revert back to the land owners. A “Rails to Trails” group got a Judge to give them the right of way. Now some land owners have property on both sides of the right of way. They have people leaving the trail and wondering through their property. When the Trails group was given the right of way there wasn’t even a discussion of paying the land owners.

    • Also “the time for talking is over” should not be met with derision. From what I read (I did not read the stuff behind the paywall), there could be a good reason for what the official said. Perhaps the governments and landowners had been negotiating for an entire year and nothing came of it, so the government decided to use its eminent domain power. In that case, perhaps, “the time for talking” may well be over and the request that another party enter the talks might be seen as simply a delaying tactic. On the other hand, the town could have proposed the eminent domain a week before. Who knows?

      Also, if the State rep does not want this to happen… Perhaps he can do something, like get the legislature to pass a bill stopping it and persuading the governor to sign it into law.

      Finally, governments coerce. That is what governments do best..