Comment of the Day: What They’re Planning To Build in Houston

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT THEY’RE PLANNING TO BUILD IN HOUSTON “I always have to chuckle when people are discussing what is being built somewhere in town. ‘Why don’t THEY build . . .’ or ‘Why don’t THEY put in . . .’ There really is no ‘THEY’ sitting back and ‘planning’ what to put in. When property is up for sale, there are numerous buyers out there who already have their OWN project (whatever it is they do) looking for a place at a price they are willing to pay, and usually in a certain part of town. If it’s a medical group, ‘they’ are not going to say ‘Hey, this neighborhood needs a restaurant’ — unless of course they decide to put one inside the medical building they build. But you get my point. These are not planned communities with someone (called ‘They’) at the helm, making decisions. As long as the citizens let the rich ‘good-ole-boys’ swing the vote every time ‘ZONING’ comes up, people can generally build what they want — where they want in Houston, TX.” [Mr-DJ, commenting on Clearing an Empty Lot in the Museum District]

13 Comment

  • Zoning?? Where?!

  • I always wondered who this “They” is also. The rich good old boys would be well served by zoning. Then they’ll be able to bribe the government officials in charge of it to make sure all the decisions go their way. The little guy would be squashed.

  • people can generally build what they want — where they want in Houston, TX.

    …provided they meet the required parking and set-back requirements, don’t run in to citizen activists, address traffic concerns and generally get the approval of more than a dozen different bureaucrats…yes, you are correct, people can build what they want, where they want.

    They is as good a pronoun as any when discussing an unknown entity. I doubt anyone thinks that “The Wizard” is controlling construction in Houston.

  • I agree with everything posted EXCEPT…”the rich ‘good-ole-boys’” comment. The thing is, the rich good ‘ol boys are exactly the people who stand to benefit from zoning. Look at cities that have zoning. The only people who benefit are developers and bureaucrats (ie city councilmen).

    Other than that, you are spot on.

  • Based on this I would say other people benefit from zoning besides developers. They benefit in quality of life. While that may not mean much to you or even me, all too often while wanting people to respect our desire to build and grow, we forget about respecting their desire for a different type of neighborhood. Why shouldn’t someone who invested in a neighborhood 30 years ago and has seen it weather a storm or two have some say in what goes there?

  • It is suprising to me that people don’t understand the lack of zoning has kept Houston housing prices the lowest for all metropolitan areas in the US.

    The misconception is labor and materials are cheaper in Houston and that is why housing is “cheap”. The reality is that alone is not enough to keep the median housing price at ~$150k in the 4th largest city in the US.

    Because of the lack of regulation (zoning), the supply of available land to build/develop is increased. Install zoning and the supply curve decreases, while demand curve remains static. This moves the equilibrium price point higher.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • Why shouldn’t someone who invested in a neighborhood 30 years ago and has seen it weather a storm or two have some say in what goes there?

    Because they don’t own the neighborhood. People vote on how they want the neighborhood to be by building things in it. Busy bodys who think they should be making decisions for everyone want the government to give them power over everyone else.

  • ‘ZONING’…….. Houston is 175 years old, zoning begins today, this will change our city, how?

  • Why don’t they put in a(n)
    a)art gallery
    b)coffee shop
    Those are all great ideas, to bad it is zoned to be a gas station.
    All the different disagreements, about what should go where, that happen on swamplot are a good argument for why zoning is a bad idea. Don’t always assume that you are so obviously correct that everyone (including the potential zoning board) will agree with you. The only ones who would be able to get the zoning board to consistently agree with them are the politically powerful.

  • It is worth noting that every time zoning is brought to the voters and denied, it is the well financed, developers and limited partners of the developers that successfully strike it down. It is so ironic that the recent uproars about various projects are merely in the neighborhoods where the above mentioed dwell and they are only good for a NIMBY fight. If these same folks were truly concerned for the City of Houston they would put all of there energy into real change for the entire city, not just their own backyard.

  • The people who are pining for zoning are what Lost in Translation calls the “Citizen Activists.” They wrongly think that zoning will protect their homes from unwanted development nearby.
    If it’s profitable for wealthy, well connected developers to build unwanted developments (a waste transfer station, for example) near people’s homes, then traditional zoning will probably allow for it. Then the “citizen activists” will have even less of a leg to stand on in opposing it. And if the zoning ordinance is written to keep unwanted development away from people’s homes, a developer can always get a variance, and build his project anyway. For an example of how ugly this can get, look at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New York.
    Don’t get me wrong. I am one of those “citizen activists.” I firmly believe in fighting for our neighborhoods, rather than turning tail and fleeing to ever more distant suburbs every time someone does something we dont like near us. But traditional zoning will make matters worse.

  • Zoning can be an effective mechanism for excluding certain land uses, businesses, or even people from a neighborhood (the way Dallas does), but it is a piss poor answer to the question, “Why don’t ‘THEY’ build [something] [there]?”

  • The setbacks. They don’t because of the setbacks.

    Also, access to transportation (freeways, rail, surface roads).

    Finally, access to capital. I think easy/easier money means a lack of competition. People need to beat inflation, at the very least, so it seems like they just throw things up as fast as they can often with little or no attention to detail.