Houston, We Have a (Zoning) Problem
http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/iss ... roblem.asp
But although Houston has, to date, avoided a comprehensive, full-fledged zoning plan, over the past three decades the city has gradually enacted measures such as billboard restrictions, preservation ordinances, landscaping ordinances, and other controls on land use—measures that, if not stopped and reversed, will ultimately add up to a full-fledged zoning plan. In other words, Houston, the city famous for its absence of zoning, has a zoning problem.
Consider a few recent measures. In 2008, in response to outcries from neighborhood civic organizations, Houston’s city council fought to stop several development projects. Under a mandate from the Federal Aviation Authority, the city is currently adopting development restrictions around the city’s airports. And potential mayoral candidates in 2009 are calling for more extensive land-use regulations. For instance, mayoral candidate and City Controller Annise Parker has suggested “a combination of reasonable regulations and financial incentives to steer development into appropriate locations,”1 and councilman Peter Brown wants to “adopt a comprehensive plan to realize our shared vision for the future and to shape the quality growth our citizens want.”2 This gradual shift toward more—and more restrictive—land-use regulations is not surprising, given that, according to a study released in early 2008, 83 percent of Houstonians favor “creating a general plan to guide Houston’s future growth.”3