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Zoning in the City

Zoning is basically restrictions on people's property rights. This allows the government to control what is being built where and what type of building it can be.  The most common kinds of zoning are for residential, commercial, and industrial zoning.  Often, zoning is used to separate sites that have high levels of pollution from residential or business areas.  Owning property includes several rights.  These are: the right to possess, the right to transform or change, the right to bequest, the right to transfer ownership, and the right to exclusion. 

There are several reasons why the government may choose to zone an area.  It could be because of externalities.  For instance, one may not want to locate near a dump so they zone so no residential housing can be built there.  This concept is also called NIMBY which stands for "Not in my Backyard."  People will acknowledge that some of the places built are necessary even though no one wants to pay the consequence of living near it.  Another reason for zoning is for fiscal reasons.  They want to make sure that a surplus is generated and there is no deficit.  Fiscal zoning is also called exclusionary zoning.  This means that all the properties in a given area are worth about the same amount in value.  This allows only those who can afford the area to live there often forcing out lower income families.  Another reason to zone is because of urban growth.  Some governments will set an urban growth boundary which means that no development can take place beyond this boundary.  Development that goes outside of the boundary is called leap-frog development.  This can be prevented by allowing new boundaries to be set and having a larger agreement for development.

Generally, people do not like zoning when it comes to their own property because they would like to do as they wish with it.  However, when it comes to their neighbors property they like zoning because it restricts their neighbor from doing something which may ultimately lower their own property value.  So, zoning can be both good and bad, but almost all cities use some form of zoning.  There is one large city in the United States that does not have zoning and that is Houston, Texas.

Case Study:  Houston, Texas 

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