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I came across a narrow perspective in my Land Use law class last night. It ‘s based an a faulty premise that without zoning, there would be chaos and thousands of nuisance lawsuits everyday. Stinky cow farms would be next to a person’s house, etc, etc.  In some cases, in order for the gov’t to get out of compensating property owner’s (PO’s) that are restricted to develop in some areas by the zoning classification are instead compensated by charging fees to PO’s that are allowed to develop in other areas. The concept is not new, but is being used more to penalize development. The fees are called Transfer Development Rights (TDRs) and are put up on a marketplace for PO’s that want to build to buy TDR credits from those who can’t build. It’s not a bad concept because it actually prevents lawsuits from occurring so people can sort out their problems, but it is burdened by excessive zoning laws, that limit land supply, and drive up the prices of TDR’s and land prices, burdening developers greatly. Its based on the idea that people who profit must share their wealth with those who are not allowed to profit, because people overall, benefit from the chaos prevented by governance. It is a fairly arrogant assumption if you ask me. Houston is a good example of a city who doesn’t have zoning, but I have heard it has really bad urban sprawl, traffic is bad, etc. BUT it is not chaos as assumed. -Jonny

About Jonny Howie

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