Letting the Market Respond

Jerry Nickelsburg, an economist at UCLA, writes that cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles have a shortage of affordable housing because of supply and demand. The demand for housing exceeds the supply, and so prices have risen. This is true, as far as it goes.

Just last week, the Chronicle reported that Harris […]

The Squeaky Bicycle Wheel Gets the Grease

Bicycle activists (I didn’t know that there were such things) achieved a significant victory this week when City Council adopted the Houston Bike Plan. Lest you think that this is a satirical piece, let me assure you that it is not. I can’t make up stuff like this.

According to the Chronicle,

the plan sets […]

Planning Leads to Land-use Regulations

Joe Webb, chairman of Blueprint Houston, an organization that helped draft the city’s General Plan, recently repeated the statist mantra that planning isn’t the same as zoning. At the same time, he noted that the plan will help the city control development and make neighborhoods better.

Technically, Webb is correct. Planning is a process of […]

The City of Our Dreams

To many people, the absence of zoning in Houston explains every ill—whether real or imagined—that plagues the city. A comment to a recent Chronicle article illustrates this attitude:

It was too late to build the city of our dreams in 1836. They built a no zoning sprawl in a swamp and never corrected either mistake.


Free White Papers and Downloads

Objectively Houston is now offering free White Papers and Downloads in PDF. More will be added in the future.

White Papers

A History Lesson: What We Can Learn From the 1990s Zoning Debate Typically, when we study history, we learn about the consequences of something that happened. Seldom is there a meaningful reason (or even […]

Houston’s Critics

Almost without fail, critics of Houston point to some other metropolis as an example of what a city should be like. The critics want parks and bike trails. They want mass transit and sidewalks. They want walkable communities and sustainable development. Other cities have these things, and Houston should have them too.

Interestingly, the critics […]

Planning Versus the Central Planner

You can tell a lot about a person by what he chooses to complain about. Critics of Houston’s lack of zoning stand as an example. They claim that Houston has developed without a plan. What they are really denouncing is the fact that Houston has developed without a central planner.

Complexes like Greenway Plaza, the […]

An Alternative to Government Planning: The Free Market

While Houston certainly has an abundance of land-use regulations, the city has retained a freer market in land use than any other major city. The absence of onerous regulations and controls on land use makes housing and the cost of doing business much more affordable, and this is the primary cause of the city’s economic […]

Planning and Land-Use Regulations

During the last debate over zoning in the 1990s, zoning advocates wanted us to believe that Houstonians want planning and planning means zoning. Councilman Jim Greenwood, who lead the pro-zoning efforts, named his organization the Ad Hoc Task Force on Planning and Zoning. He and his allies stressed the fact that zoning would allow for […]

Government Planning and Collectivism

When the city started the planning process, its website described the goal of the plan:

The Plan will consolidate and coordinate a vision and strategies to address neighborhood enhancement and development over the coming years….

Once complete, the General Plan will provide for a collective Vision Statement that represents the community’s view of its future. […]