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Thread: Why do we zone?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Why do we zone?

    Why to we zone? Does Houston do Zoning yet? I am just thinking that we have blocks of uses... Why? What other opportunities are there out there.

    And please do not say, “To protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the community” Because you and I both know that neighborhood corner grocery stores can be a good thing.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 15 Oct 2004 at 12:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Do a Google search for Village of Euclid Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co and then take an intro to planning law course. Basically, in the Euclid v. Amber case, the court upheld that zoning is a legit use of the police power.

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    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Why to we zone?
    To keep people like you out of my neighborhood


    What Wanigas? said.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

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    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    Do a Google search for Village of Euclid Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co and then take an intro to planning law course.
    booo. that is why we 'can' zone. Euclidian zoning has turn out to be the nexus of segregation evil, and one of the biggest causes of sprawl and reason most people have to drive to the store.

    The first zoning regs was to keep Chinese folks out of white San Fran neighborhoods by 'zoning out' laudry mats and in NYC to keep out lowly factor workers from upper class 'hoods by zonning out factories. We zone in order to segregate our society from those people.

    [what NIMYs really think]Your apt. complex is not compatible next to my sf, because you are poor and colored.[/what NIMYs really think]

  5. #5
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I think that pictures will best explain. These are mostly from my old community.

    To prevent things like this from happening:

    Incompatible uses


    Yes that house is only 3 feet from a scrapyard.



    This is in someones backyard, really I need the 25 cords of wood to heat my 800 square foot house.

    Bad design


    Imagine if we could have forced windows or an acccess to the street how much better this would have looked.

    To protect views like this



    Halifax has a comprehensive set of standards related to buildings locations and heights to protect thios view, the building that is there is oriented really funny at teh street to preserve this view.

    The real reason, is that people's greed and ignorance out strips what little sense they where born with.

    The other reason is summed up well by this sign. (found on the net)

    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    You should also check out some of the early NYC laws, which many cities followed. I'll have to dig up the books to find certian cases, but alot of them dealt with public safety and housing conditions.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

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          roger's avatar
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    What is the deal with Houston? Is it the only major city in the US that doesn't zone? What have been the results, good and bad? Every time I go down there I do notice how 'jumbly' some areas look, but it doesn't always seem like such a bad thing either. I actually lived there for 5 years when I was a little kid (too small to notice such things, much less care about them). I don't remember anything like the pics posted by donk, but then again it's a big city.

    Basically my question is, Does Houston make a good case for NOT zoning?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rumpy Tunanator
    You should also check out some of the early NYC laws, which many cities followed. I'll have to dig up the books to find certian cases, but alot of them dealt with public safety and housing conditions.
    Housing reform and building codes are different than zoning.

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    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    A good read on the topic

    Zoning is merely a tool. It can be used constructively as a positive force for community good, or it can be misused. Zoning is what you make of it. It works best when it is based on a vision closely tied to a comprehensive plan. At its best, zoning can provide landowners and the marketplace with predictability and certainty. It can protect critical resources and it can increase property values. However, conventional zoning, by itself, will almost never create a memorable community. [Emphasis added]
    From What's So Bad About Zoning?, by Edward McMahon. (Planning Commissioners Journal , No. 44, Fall 2001)
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    Housing reform and building codes are different than zoning.
    But alot of it affected zoning requirements for certian areas.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  11. #11

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    Doesn't Houston have an extensive system of private zoning covenants? So you can make your millions building strip mall crap in the rest of the city, then retreat into the splendor of River Oaks to enjoy your ill-gotten gains.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by roger
    What is the deal with Houston? Is it the only major city in the US that doesn't zone? What have been the results, good and bad? Every time I go down there I do notice how 'jumbly' some areas look, but it doesn't always seem like such a bad thing either. I actually lived there for 5 years when I was a little kid (too small to notice such things, much less care about them). I don't remember anything like the pics posted by donk, but then again it's a big city.

    Basically my question is, Does Houston make a good case for NOT zoning?
    My understanding of Houston is, just like BKM said, they have lots of covenants and neighborhood plans that address zoning issues. The sad thing is that Houston doesn't look terrifically different than many cities that do have land use controls. Again, the subject of "zoning that actually contributes to the greater good" rears its head.

    You should check out a "Planning" article from the past year- they did a story on Houston that asked whether or not comp plans were necessary.

  13. #13
    BANNED
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    zone

    why do we zone? I can still hear the ringing in my ears from my professors..."Zoning regulations are a TOOL to implement the comprehensive plan...blah, blah, blah".
    Fundamentally, zoning controls the type of uses allowed in an area. Does zoning keep commercial and residential uses separate, yes and no, it really depends on how you define what is allowed in a zone....see how that works? You can have zones which allow a full range of uses but maybe restrict the scale of commerical development in certain instances to get that...ma and pa feel. So seriously, it is isn't that Houston does not have zoning (they effectively do with the restrictive covenants running with the land) they don't have an OFFICIAL LONG RANGE PLAN TO GUIDE the process, or i could be wrong...i do that quite frequently.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Doesn't Houston have an extensive system of private zoning covenants? So you can make your millions building strip mall crap in the rest of the city, then retreat into the splendor of River Oaks to enjoy your ill-gotten gains.
    But that's private individuals entering into a contract. That's not EVIL GUBERMENT which is a MONOPOLY and has GUNS that's going to despotically FORCE people to do what they want!

    It's totally different.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    Do a Google search for Village of Euclid Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co and then take an intro to planning law course. Basically, in the Euclid v. Amber case, the court upheld that zoning is a legit use of the police power.

    OK for clarification, I know all about that case, and I have taken a land use law class in college, and I agree that is the answer to why we can zone instead of why we do zone.

    I understand all the protection stuff, but I think that in today’s society many of our industrial uses are non-offensive to residential neighborhood. Not all will work but I am thinking that the market can somewhat regulate things, and what does not work for them, we should be able to require specific requirements with our site development regulations, without limiting the use. Has anyone had any experience with form base zoning? Would that help to ease the regulations?

    Yesterday when I was doing code enforcement, I noticed all these ‘great’ suburban neighborhoods that where a good drive from any stores, restaurants, or entertainment. I am starting to think that we over regulate uses in many places.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    booo. that is why we 'can' zone. Euclidian zoning has turn out to be the nexus of segregation evil, and one of the biggest causes of sprawl and reason most people have to drive to the store.
    Yah, but that same zoning could allow a small neighborhood market. It's not zoning that's the segregation evil, its the people that implement it.

    I agree with Donks statement about zoning not allowing a scrap yard next to a house. Call me a NIMBY, but I don't want a scrap yard or gas station or car lot or fast food restaurant right next to me.

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    I understand all the protection stuff, but I think that in today’s society many of our industrial uses are non-offensive to residential neighborhood.
    Lighting, traffic, noise, odor, smoke/dust, waste material, vibration, etc. How are these items non-offensive? And these aren't found in just the industrial areaa, but can be from a restaurant, gas station, etc.

    Unless the whole City smells like cereal (a la Battle Creek), I also don't want to live close to a factory. We have a rendering plant at the far edge of town, and there are some days you can smell it on the opposite side of town (6 miles). Imagine living right next to it.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vaughan
    My understanding of Houston is, just like BKM said, they have lots of covenants and neighborhood plans that address zoning issues. The sad thing is that Houston doesn't look terrifically different than many cities that do have land use controls. Again, the subject of "zoning that actually contributes to the greater good" rears its head.

    You should check out a "Planning" article from the past year- they did a story on Houston that asked whether or not comp plans were necessary.

    We also split our development regs into two parts - urban and suburban. Guidelines, options and review are different, and yes, we rely on deed restrictions, but not solely. Deed restrictions are a PRIVATE contract between developers & home buyers, then later between the home owners and the homeowner assocation. In Houston, there is limited deed restriction enforcement done by the city's legal department (1. affects the use of the land, 2. distance from street, lot or property lines, and 3. size of lot or size, type and # of structures on the lot), and if I remember correctly, it's because we don't have zoning! But most aspects are not enforced by the city, because, again, deed restrictions are a PRIVATE contract.

    We also have strong Neighborhood/grassroots community associations. Our city is divided into Super Neighborhood Districts, which each have their own citizen boards, etc. The city provides techical support for those groups.

    When a parcel of land is subdivided, the terminology on the plat also affects the use. Lot = single family residential. Restricted Reserve = limited to the stated restriction (commercial, hospital, school, church and related uses, landscaping, detention, etc). Unrestricted Reserve = basically, all multi-family uses

    We also follow state law requirements for replats and replats with deed restrictions. So we stilll have Public Hearings, but they're for Variance to the Subdivision Ordinance and Deed-Restricted Public Hearings. We don't have a long-term Comprehensive Plan, per se, but we do have a long-range transportation plan, called the Major Thoroughfare and Freeway Plan, that we use is development review.

    Any specific questions, either PM me, or check out www.houstonplanning.com
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

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    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    A classic good read in response

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Why to we zone? Does Houston do Zoning yet? I am just thinking that we have blocks of uses... Why? What other opportunities are there out there.

    And please do not say, “To protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the community” Because you and I both know that neighborhood corner grocery stores can be a good thing.
    I can't believe I'd forgotten this classic essay by Garrett Hardin: The Tragedy of the Commons.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

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    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    [mod hat]
    If this thread turns into a personal argument, it will be closed.

    Stay on topic please.

    As it is developing, I'm thinking the thread may be moved to the FAC if it continues to stray off topic.
    [/mod hat]
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  20. #20
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Lighting, traffic, noise, odor, smoke/dust, waste material, vibration, etc. How are these items non-offensive? And these aren't found in just the industrial areaa, but can be from a restaurant, gas station, etc.

    Each of those things could be regulated in other ways such as traffic, parking, and landscape requirements, as well as buffers and aesthetically pleasing conflicting land use screening. Even more, each of these could be required based on use and surrounding use instead of zone.

    There can also be a way to limit what can go where by having minimum and maximum size requirements for properties as they relate to each use, and require that the characteristics of each use be a particular distance from opposing uses. All of these could be required within site development requirements with out having to say this section is zoned this, and that section is zoned that.

    As for the cereal, I kind of like the frosted flakes smell.

    I am just wondering if there is another way to protect without over regulation.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    There can also be a way to limit what can go where by having minimum and maximum size requirements for properties as they relate to each use, and require that the characteristics of each use be a particular distance from opposing uses.
    Is the regulation of location and use of land the definition of zoning?

    You've lost me....

    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  22. #22
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    There can also be a way to limit what can go where by having minimum and maximum size requirements for properties as they relate to each use, and require that the characteristics of each use be a particular distance from opposing uses. All of these could be required within site development requirements with out having to say this section is zoned this, and that section is zoned that.
    That's still zoning, just a different kind of zoning. Performance Zoning, incentive zoning....whatever you call it....is still essentially zoning.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    I am just wondering if there is another way to protect without over regulation.
    I am piqued by the statement I am quoting - are you saying that you think zoning is over-regulation? Just curious what your thoughts are on this. I never thought of zoning as over-regulation. Where I live, there has been a shift toward zoning that requires more of developers and it is slowly turning our suburban landscape into something nicer. For decades, the local government pretty much let the developers do what they wanted, and now we have many vacancies and blight along a commercial strip that is sprawling and in decline. The change in the zoning philosophy has more to do with preserving the local economic base, however, at the same time, they are implementing more progressive regulations that add to the quality of life to the residents and not just the business interests.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    I am piqued by the statement I am quoting - are you saying that you think zoning is over-regulation? Just curious what your thoughts are on this. I never thought of zoning as over-regulation.
    In some cases it is over regulation. In some older cities, you have a corner neighborhood store that is nonconforming, Yet is may be a significant reason why the residents like living there. I know growing up I loved the opportunity to walk a block to Gary’s Southside (neighborhood store) and the consistent interaction helped to create a sense of community. It was like living in the 50’s but it was the 90’s. In an APA session on Form Based Zoning it was said, “Many of the places thought of as "great" are areas that developed prior to the adoption of Euclidean zoning regulations. These places — representative examples are Chicago 's Loop District and San Francisco — are the products of development that occurred based on an emphasis on physical form rather than on controlling uses.”

    I just think that we are trying to get back something that we may have pushed out in the first place. There are always other ways to regulate the problems that conflicting land uses have without having the property zoned. Site Development Regulations can be based on the use of the property instead of the zone that it is in.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    what you speak up can best be surmised as form-based zoning. prescribe the form and the uses will be compatible. Making the leap from euclidian to form-based zoning is difficult and requires an amazing amount of politcal and resident support.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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