What does “local control” actually mean?

Source: EconLog
by Scott Sumner

“In the US, public services such as police, fire and K-12 education are typically provided by local governments. On the other hands, federal rules prevent local governments from certain types of regulation. Local governments are not allowed to restrict speech or interstate commerce, for instance. … Are local zoning regulations that limit the freedom to develop a piece of property similar to restrictions on speech and interstate commerce? In that case, it might make sense to have a state or federal ban on such regulations. Or are they like local services, where the default assumption is that local governments are best placed to address the needs of local residents?” (09/24/21)