The city without zoning

Source: EconLog
by Scott Sumner

“Houston is the only big American city without zoning. Some people argue that Houston is effectively zoned, as many neighborhoods have deed restrictions that limit development. But in his new book on zoning, M. Nolan Gray points out that only 25% of Houston is covered by those contracts, and even in those cases the restrictions are less rigid than with explicit zoning laws. So how are things playing out in Houston? For the most part, Houston’s positives are linked to its lack of zoning, and its negatives are essentially unrelated to zoning. Many people visualize zoning as somehow protecting people from negative externalities. In fact, regulations against public nuisances have been around long before zoning was first adopted in 1916 (in NYC and Berkeley), and even Houston has many such rules.” (09/21/22)