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Old 10-03-2011, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Pearland, TX
3,334 posts, read 4,584,376 times
Reputation: 2210
From BUSINESSWEEK, 2007:

What No Zoning Really Means …
Houston is well known as the only major U.S. city with no formal zoning code. Such a seeming lack of order is difficult to grasp by those unfamiliar with the area. The absence of a comprehensive land use code conjures up images of a disjointed landscape where oil derricks sit next to mansions and auto salvage yards abut churches. To some degree these anomalies exist, yet for the most part Houston is like any other large North American city.
What is unique about Houston is that the separation of land uses is impelled by economic forces rather than mandatory zoning. While it is theoretically possible for a petrochemical refinery to locate next to a housing development, it is unlikely that profit-maximizing real-estate developers will allow this to happen. Developers employ widespread private covenants and deed restrictions, which serve a comparable role as zoning. These privately prescribed land use controls are effective because they have a legal precedence and local government has chosen to assist in enforcing them.
Some investors are understandably apprehensive about the lack of clearly defined rules. Houston developers have long recognized these concerns and have responded, particularly in suburban markets, by producing planned business and industrial parks that have rigorous covenants and deed restrictions. Not surprisingly, the sites receiving the attention of institutional investors, especially in suburban markets, tend to be in planned parks.

Is Houston a relic of the past of land use, or the wave of the future?
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:44 AM
 
Location: The Magnolia City
8,937 posts, read 5,530,934 times
Reputation: 4853
Quote:
Originally Posted by 14Bricks View Post
You can't have it both ways. You said you liked it here because of cheap housing. One of the reasons Houston is affordable is because of no zoning, for better or worse you can build where ever you want. The reasons places like San Fran and Portland and New York and Boston is so expensive is because zoning makes the prices sky rocket. Which prices the average person out, therefore they move to Houston and then complain about the lack of Zoning.
I never said what I liked. I said that the transplants are attracted by the affordable housing.

There are plenty of zoned cities with affordable housing: Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte, etc.
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
10,167 posts, read 9,668,592 times
Reputation: 5675
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoustonRonnie View Post
The absence of a comprehensive land use code conjures up images of a disjointed landscape where oil derricks sit next to mansions and auto salvage yards abut churches. To some degree these anomalies exist, yet for the most part Houston is like any other large North American city.

Is Houston a relic of the past of land use, or the wave of the future?
I would just call it
"The city of economic freedom"
where you can do whatever you want with your land = let the market decide
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Old 10-03-2011, 04:19 PM
 
1,506 posts, read 1,616,904 times
Reputation: 1105
Quote:
Originally Posted by 14Bricks View Post
You can't have it both ways. You said you liked it here because of cheap housing. One of the reasons Houston is affordable is because of no zoning, for better or worse you can build where ever you want. The reasons places like San Fran and Portland and New York and Boston is so expensive is because zoning makes the prices sky rocket. Which prices the average person out, therefore they move to Houston and then complain about the lack of Zoning.
I don't know about Portland, but San Fran, New York and Boston are expensive because of building codes and restrictions don't have to do with zoning. Specific limits on building codes in San Fran limit the feasibility of building lots of mid-rises (which is popular with all the residents of historic 3 story townhouses) and Boston and New York (specifically Manhattan) are limited geographically and historically by lots of regulations that don't have to do with zoning per se, but definitely restrict how and what can be built economically.

Houston and most midwestern cities are flat, ever expansive areas that zoned or not, have room to grow out (which is alot cheaper in the short term than building up).

Zoning (especially when applied in the rediculous California ways) can cause price spikes, but usually its geography that drives prices in popular areas.
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:07 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
10,167 posts, read 9,668,592 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lost_In_Translation View Post
I don't know about Portland, but San Fran, New York and Boston
San Francisco has to have those building codes since it's seating right next to the San Andreas fault.

Now, New York and Boston... I don't know why.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:13 PM
 
56 posts, read 45,593 times
Reputation: 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by just4ivaylo View Post
Cheap housing and jobs...that's why people moved/might still be moving to the area. Very few moved for any other reason.
Cheap housing is one of the things that did attract me to Houston, but I have a good job here in the Miami area. I do not want to move to Houston for a job. I want to move to Houston because during my recent visit, I noticed how friendly, polite, down-to-earth the people were. I am also impressed with what the city offers in terms of eating, its museum district, theatre district, its downtown, its parks and their free entertainment (Discovery Green and Hermann Park).

I am impressed by how people seem to respect each other despite ethnic/racial differences. I did not sense the vibe of hostility that is prevalent here in Miami.

As for zoning, never did I see anything out of the ordinary. I never saw a factory in the middle of a quiet residential area.

I am trying to escape from South Florida and move to Houston. I believe that Houston is a place where a middle-class person can still succeed with much work. Houston is an under-rated city I believe.
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Houston
460 posts, read 606,268 times
Reputation: 311
Quote:
How do you like Houston's lack of zoning?
Don't like it. I've lived here a total of 36 years and at least from a visual/architectural perspective, find Houston a jumbled mess and one of the least attractive large cities I know of. Houses....then strip malls...then a hulking white box covering a city block housing a distribution warehouse...then houses again. No thanks.

Quote:
I like how highrises can pop up all over the city.
I first saw this back in the 80s, when that @20 story condominium was built smack dab in the middle of the Bunker Hill subdivision, near the intersection of Gessner and Memorial Drive. It looked and still looks ridiculous to me, this huge white concrete & glass square tower, plunked directly in the middle of a suburban neighborhood.

While I agree overly-energetic zoning laws can result in sterility and just an overall boring vibe to a city (e.g. that area in Sugarland where all the large retail strip malls share the same architectural style, as if a huge rubber stamp was used to design them all), I believe SOME zoning laws can help the residents feel like they aren't living in anarchy and can feel more - excuse the use of hippy-ish philosophy here - like they are part of a community of people with businesses located in specific areas to serve their needs, rather than the other way around.
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Houston (Memorial) and Western NC
8,907 posts, read 15,138,438 times
Reputation: 4046
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lije Baley View Post
Don't like it. I've lived here a total of 36 years and at least from a visual/architectural perspective, find Houston a jumbled mess and one of the least attractive large cities I know of. Houses....then strip malls...then a hulking white box covering a city block housing a distribution warehouse...then houses again. No thanks.

I first saw this back in the 80s, when that @20 story condominium was built smack dab in the middle of the Bunker Hill subdivision, near the intersection of Gessner and Memorial Drive. It looked and still looks ridiculous to me, this huge white concrete & glass square tower, plunked directly in the middle of a suburban neighborhood.

.
The Tealstone isn't in Bunker Hill. It's in COH, bordering Bunker Hill. That's why it got built. Just some FYI. But yes, it's in a townhouse area and looms over them. The Houstonian does the same thing closer to 610.

As to community, I've always felt a huge sense of community in the neighborhoods I've lived in while in Houston. Out in the burbs not so much, basically BECAUSE people were always traveling out of the area to get things done. You never ran into your neighbors. In Houston I'm always running into people "just around the corner" while shopping. So in essence, lack of zoning DOES create community. It does create small towns within a city, and that's really cool IMHO
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Old 10-05-2011, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Inner Loop
789 posts, read 895,946 times
Reputation: 346
Quote:
Originally Posted by EasilyAmused View Post
The Tealstone isn't in Bunker Hill. It's in COH, bordering Bunker Hill. That's why it got built. Just some FYI. But yes, it's in a townhouse area and looms over them. The Houstonian does the same thing closer to 610.

As to community, I've always felt a huge sense of community in the neighborhoods I've lived in while in Houston. Out in the burbs not so much, basically BECAUSE people were always traveling out of the area to get things done. You never ran into your neighbors. In Houston I'm always running into people "just around the corner" while shopping. So in essence, lack of zoning DOES create community. It does create small towns within a city, and that's really cool IMHO
This is the thing that killed me about the Burbs. Even my girlfriend knew how ridiculous this was (she has lived in the burbs her whole life). It made me feel a bit empty when I would go there. And yes, that is the thing I do like about living within the loop. You see people almost everyday, and sometimes at the same places you see them all the time.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:01 PM
 
3 posts, read 2,372 times
Reputation: 12
"While it is theoretically possible for a petrochemical refinery to locate next to a housing development, it is unlikely that profit-maximizing real-estate developers will allow this to happen."

I think the residents of Baytown, Pasadena and Galena Park may beg to differ with that Businessweek article.

On the flip side, I certainly enjoy walking to the bar down the street. I grew up here, so it wasn't until I moved and did some traveling that I realized it wasn't this way everywhere.
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