The Nature of Zoning

by | Jul 26, 2012 | Housing, POLITICS

In 2007, I served as a consultant to a group of citizens opposed to an attempt to bring zoning to Hobbs, New Mexico. During that time, I wrote a series of articles that were published in the local newspaper. This is one of those articles. In a referendum, zoning was defeated by a 2 to […]

In 2007, I served as a consultant to a group of citizens opposed to an attempt to bring zoning to Hobbs, New Mexico. During that time, I wrote a series of articles that were published in the local newspaper. This is one of those articles. In a referendum, zoning was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin.

The Maddox Foundation has offered a grant of $15 million to the City of Hobbs for a beautification project. While this offer is indeed generous, it comes with a significant and substantial requirement—the City of Hobbs must adopt a zoning ordinance that meets with the approval of the Foundation.

Considered out of context, the beautification project may be desirable. But we cannot consider goals out of context. We must also consider the cost of achieving that goal, whether the proposed means will accomplish the stated ends, and the propriety of those means.

Many claims have been, and will be, made about zoning. It is presented as a cure for problems, real and imaginary, in Hobbs. As we will see, zoning is not a benevolent tool for protecting neighborhoods or improving our quality of life. Instead, it is a weapon that is wielded by the politically powerful to destroy property rights. As is always the case when individual rights are violated, the cure is more destructive than the disease.

It is not necessary to enact a zoning ordinance to witness zoning’s destructive consequences. We can look to other cities to see both the economic and political results of zoning. We can identify and evaluate the principles that underlie zoning.

The argument against zoning is moral in nature. It rests on the principle that the initiation of force is immoral and evil. As a corollary, individuals should resolve disagreements through reason, rather than at the point of a gun.

In contrast, zoning rests on the principle that one group of citizens may compel others to act, or not act, in a particular manner. Zoning rests on the belief that initiating force to impose a particular set of values on the community is proper and just.

In practice, this principle encourages gang warfare, as competing groups vie to impose their values on others. That this occurs under the auspices of the government and in the name of the “public welfare” does not change its nature or grant it legitimacy.

Zoning advocates will prefer to avoid a discussion of these principles. They will speak of supposed benefits, while ignoring the costs of zoning. They will dismiss principled arguments as lies, misrepresentations, and scare tactics. But their claims will not changes the facts. By its very nature, zoning is a violation of individual rights and destructive to human welfare.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Brian Phillips has been actively defending individual rights for the past twenty-five years. He has successfully helped defeat attempts to implement zoning in Houston, Texas, and Hobbs, New Mexico. His writing has appeared in The Freeman, Reason, The Orange County Register, The Houston Chronicle, The Objective Standard, Capitalism Magazine, and dozens of other publications. He is the author of Individual Rights and Government Wrongs

SHOW PROFILE

What do you think?

We are always interested in rational feedback and criticism. Feel free to share your thoughts using this form.

We will post responses that we think are of interest to our readers in our Letters section.

Help Capitalism Magazine get the pro-capitalist message out.

With over 10,000 articles readable online Capitalism Magazine is completely free. We rely on the generosity of our readers to keep us going. So if you already donate to us, thank you! And if you don’t, please do consider making a donation today. One-off donations – or better yet, monthly donations – are hugely appreciated. You can find out more here. Thank you!

Related Articles

When Reason is Out, Violence is In

When Reason is Out, Violence is In

What explains today’s bi-partisan violence? When reason is out, persuasion and peaceful assembly-protest also are out. What remains is emotionalism – and violence.

Voice of Capitalism

Free email weekly newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest