This Space for Rent

Zoning is baaad, except when it’s good.

The Portland Tribune has an article about how Metro (Portland, Oregon, and surrounding cities) is trying to plan for the expected influx of a million additional people. Metro has a planning committee that's been spitting out plans on how to fit the people in, and many of those plans are recommendations that Portland and the surrounding cities relax their zoning requirements to allow denser development.

This bit of creeping libertarianism is, not unexpectedly, causing the faux-libertarians at the Cascade Policy Institute (motto: auto uber alles!) to have a pretty severe case of the vapors. Why, it would be wrong to insist that cities relax those zoning regulations when there's all this wasted farmland that you can rezone instead (but, I presume, not to rezone too much, because then the developers would build densely packed developments instead of the libertarian ideal of a 5 acre farmette with a 20,000 square foot mansion squatting in the middle of it. The money quote is "homes with enough property for their young children" -- children don't need "property", they need places to play, and in a proper city there are plenty of places where kids can play without requiring a long car trip to get to the park. (I grew up in a small city, in a place where the lot size was a fairly large 120x50, but the house I lived in was on a 50x50 half lot (-10 feet for alleyway). Oddly enough, I had no trouble finding places to play, and most of those places still exist 35 years on because they are either federally protected wetlands or city parks.)

But sense is not something I really expect from the Cascade Policy Institute; libertarians in the United States tend to suffer from a belief in magic (highways are magic! They spring up from the ground like fairy circles after a rainstorm, and they never never need to be repaired unless the Evil State™ comes along and puts umbrellas over them! Railroads, on the other hand, are EVIL, and the (nonexistent, except for laws, police, the military, and the highway department) government needs to build roads to protect us from possibly having to come in contact with some other human!) and these people make the bog-standard libertoonian look like a paragon of sanity. "If you fly over Oregon in a helicopter, there is plenty of undeveloped land" ? Yeah, right. Who needs farms, when in the future we'll just drink petroleum-based squeeze pops?


Mmmm…. gasicles!

Aaron B. Hockley Wed Jul 12 21:16:56 2006

Mister Orc, this is a very entertaining post. I’m reminded of that business(a meme?) from a few years ago when some libertarian bloggers said that all American libertarians oughta move to one low-population state, up-ending the demographics and taking over social and political life there. I seem to remember NH was a candidate. Poor New Hampshire! Maybe all great-outdoorsy-type liberals could move to some ultra red mountain time zone state and make it a liberal farmette playground. I’m told Utah is very pretty, and not nearly as cold as Montana, the Dakotas, et al, nor as hot as Arizona…half a hectare for everybody!

Jonathan Versen (confirmed city slicker) Sat Jul 15 15:23:34 2006

Comments are closed