I am currently M. I have been reading an excellent book on zoning by Nolan Gray, titled Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It. It may sound like a bland topic, but it’s a surprisingly easy and enjoyable read.
Most Americans haven’t given much thought to residential zoning and have little idea what it is. Gray punctures many myths about zoning. For example, zoning regulations were not put in place to prevent polluting factories from being located near residential areas—there were already public nuisance laws against that sort of thing before the first zoning laws in 1916. Rather, zoning regulations aimed to make cities less dense than they would be in a free market, and imposed strict economic segregation—essentially keeping the poor out as much as possible. Studies suggest that zoning regulations dramatically reduce America’s GDP by sharply increasing housing prices in our most productive areas, leaving the country significantly poorer than in a free housing market.
So where are the libertarians on this important issue? here Reason magazineLeo Pustilnikov discussing a proposal to build 2,300 housing units on the site of a former power plant in Redondo Beach, California:
“Leo is a pure speculator and it’s ridiculous that he would buy some property and try to impose his will on this community,” Nehrenheim said.
A registered liberal, Nehrenheim has twice now won election on a platform of stopping overdevelopment and preventing the “Santa Monica-ization” of the city.
It proved a popular message among an eclectic mix of supporters in Redondo Beach. Her 2021 re-election campaign has received donations from the local Sierra Club and the enthusiastic support of the Libertarian Party Ms. Caucus.
Mrs. Caucus and the Sierra Club? It is not quite “Baptists and Bootleggers” like the Baptists of the South and West Coast.
It seems to be part of a larger movement Mrs. Caucus:
Besides Rothbard, one of the biggest influences on prominent members of the Ms. Caucus was political theorist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who disagreed with Ludwig von Mises’s pro-immigration views. He wrote that politicians have a perverse incentive to allow “unproductive parasites, bums and criminals” and that “the power to admit or exclude should be taken away from the central government and reassigned to states, provinces, cities, towns, villages, residential districts, and ultimately to private property owners and their voluntary associations.” Hoppe advocates “the Swiss model, where local assemblies, not the central government, determine who can and cannot be Swiss citizens.” Hope also suggested that “democracies and communists” should be “physically separated and expelled” from a libertarian society.
In fact, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.
Progressives often have a more inclusive rhetoric than the right, but in reality their communities are the worst offenders. Gray suggests that the most extreme examples of government-enforced economic segregation (which led to actual racial segregation) occurred in progressive areas of the northeastern United States and California.
Rest assured. This photo shows the location of the power complex in Redondo Beach where the proposed residential development will take place. In the past, this proposal would almost certainly have been shot down. It currently has at least a fighting chance, thanks to some recent deregulation that makes it somewhat easier to build multifamily buildings in California.