Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another volley in the Zoning Debate

UH Law Professor John Mixon had a very well written article in the Spring edition of Cite Magazine: "Zoning Around," Cite 85, pp. 30-35. Mixon makes some good points in his article. But government power also helps poor and middle class neighborhoods. And a comprehensive zoning ordinance is not the only answer to Houston’s ugly land-use battles.

Middle-class Eastwood had their councilman’s help when they fought the Magnolia Glen Homeless Shelter. Sharpstown had the City and State’s help in their fight against the Carnival Night Club. Inwood Forest had help from the Mayor to prevent development on an old golf course. Sunnyside is one of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods. City Council actually wrote a special ordinance to help in their fight against a concrete-crushing plant.

We could fix the bad parts of the “Houston Way” with education, communication, and grass-roots urban planning. The City could educate developers and neighborhoods. Developers could be more sensitive to neighborhoods. Neighborhoods could decide what they want ahead of time, and communicate in a consistent way. This is already starting to happen. A comprehensive zoning ordinance would only get in the way of it.

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