Building Rules: How Local Controls Shape Community Environments and Economies

By Kee Warner; Harvey Molotch | Go to book overview

1
The Relevance of Regulation

In the United States and much of the industrial world, business leaders, politicians, and large segments of the public question efforts to regulate economic activities for the protection of natural environments. Even though some environmentalists think the protections that have been enacted fall woefully short of creating sustainable human settlements, regulation critics attack the programs and policies that have been implemented as unjustified interference in the ways people produce and consume. Land use regulation -- in particular the rules governing urban growth and development -- is one particularly tangible terrain on which this battle is being fought. This book reports on just how this highly controversial form of intervention in the economy has operated in terms of either enhancing local communities and their environments or undermining their economies. Writing at a time when regulation is seen as the enemy of economies, we specify within the realm of land use and in the delimited but important region of the world we study -- Southern California -- just how regulation and markets have operated together. We illustrate what happens when the regulation of city building increases and the effects of this regulation on an economic sphere with major stakes for wealth creation and potential for far-reaching social and environmental consequences.

The creation of wealth in regulated contexts is, of course, not new -- either in land use or any other realm. Markets presuppose the basic social order that guarantees property through contract; in the case of real estate, commercial value requires not only deeds backed by government force but also the infrastructure of roads and other forms of access that create economic utility. Going one step farther down the slippery but inevitable road of regulation, deeds and access mean nothing if their value can be destroyed by the acts of others, as when an upstream user diverts a common waterway or a neighbor performs activities so noxious that they seriously compromise the ability to use and enjoy one's own property.

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Building Rules: How Local Controls Shape Community Environments and Economies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - The Relevance of Regulation 1
  • Notes 21
  • 2 - Sites 23
  • Notes 50
  • 3 - Has Growth Been Stopped? Not Much 52
  • Notes 58
  • 4 - Power to Build: How Cities Grow Under Growth Control 59
  • Notes 76
  • 5 - Project Peddling: What Gets Approved and How 78
  • Notes 102
  • 6 - Indirect Effects: How Building Rules Make Growth Different 104
  • Notes 127
  • 7 - Building the Rules 129
  • Notes 147
  • Appendix A: - Measuring Growth Control Impacts 149
  • Notes to Appendix A 156
  • Appendix B: Chronologies of Growth Control 157
  • Appendix C - Commercial Valuation Data, 1970-1990 167
  • Appendix E: Case Study Details 171
  • Appendix F: Interview Schedule 183
  • Reference List 185
  • Index 201
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