Zoning to catalyze growth potential. Wait, what?I have tried several times to follow the twisted logic in this Chronicle op-ed calling for the new ordinance to limit tower development to designated areas - or at least have a large buffer between them and residential areas (a result of the Ashby high-rise controversy). I don't know enough about the ordinance to have a strong opinion on it one way or the other. I even proposed my own compromise solution once. But I do have a problem with the argument this op-ed is making.
- He lists a whole bunch of rights, but carefully neglects to mention one of the core ones: property rights. Does my right to nature, a patch of grass, and daylight override your right to build a house on that plot of land you bought?
- He likes dynamic, unpredictable cities (as do I), but then calls for pushing tower development into designated areas, which of course makes the city more predictable, not less.
- He calls it a zoning of potential rather than limits, but it's clearly a law focused on limiting development.
The bottom line is the market doesn't support a lot of what architects and planners would like to see. Since they can't force developers to build things, they try to get what they want by banning everything else. Of course that limits development and drives up costs, as well as creating a fantastic corruption mechanism for politicians wanting to extract money from developers, who of course pass those costs on to you, the buyer. Ultimately, as we've seen in much of the country, tight zoning is a path to stagnation, high costs of living, and housing bubbles, not growth.