We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Zoning is often a complex political issue. When overly-rigid, it makes for sterile environments. My instinct is for minimal zoning, but if somebody wanted to put a WalMart next door to our little exurban farm, I'd go ballistic.
Here in Texas, our cities have the power to zone but our counties don't. When I tell my state government classes that, their eyes glaze over. So I give them a real life example of why that might bite them in the behind some day.
My parents have owned a very tidy, well-kept mobile home park right outside of our small town for almost 50 years. They keep the place paved and fine any residents who don't remove trash or keep their lots clean. It is a financial success and they have a waiting list to get into the park.
My dad wanted to build another one on a different piece of property in a different part of our county about 5 years ago. His neighbors in that part of the county loved him (most people who knew him did), but they went BALLISTIC when they found out that he "wanted to wreck their property values by building a mobile home park in their neighborhood". My dad could have insisted because under Texas law, he had every right to use his property to build that park. But being a man who cared more about a good reputation than extra profits, he quietly backed down. Behind the scenes he was hurt that these people who had known him for decades might not trust his word that he would keep this new park as clean and tidy as his old one. "Don't they know me?!?!" he asked more than once.
Most of my students get it when I tell that story and then ask "what if the man building the mobile home park 100 yards from your dream home in the country is NOT a great guy who cares about your property values, but a greedy bastard trying to make a quick buck?"
My dad could be trusted to self-regulate. Better to have him as a neighbor than a government bureaucrat, eh?
Zoning makes sense on so many levels. Should the citizens and residents have the right and ability to create the city or community they want to? Simple as that. Should industry be zoned such that it doesn't encroach on homes and schools? Shouldn't industry be placed where existing rail and highway exist. Zoning issues shouldn't be handed down by the state or federal government it should be up to the community to decide. It should be perfectly acceptable for a community to end all development. There should be no imperative that homes or industry be built if the community is happy without that growth. The San Francisco Bay area is a mega city nightmare. I assume it will continue to become worse until it is unsustainable. Why? They should have froze it back in 1965 when it was a beautiful livable city (all of the cities in the Bay Area were beautiful and livable back then). But politics and money have created havoc.
I drive through San Francisco occasionally but choose to do so in the early AM and preferably on a Sunday. Otherwise traffic is a nightmare. I use to go to San Francisco to enjoy the city but no more, it is unpleasant and unsafe.
I grew up in Houston, where there was no zoning but residential neighborhoods usually were protected by restrictive covenants. It worked fine. Some older neighborhoods became a funky mix of residential and commercial, which young people liked. More traditional residential neighborhoods prohibited commercial development, which worked, too. I can't say I ever missed the Zoning Committee we never had to deal with.
Now I'm in the unincorporated area of a small rural community. Still no zoning, but we bought in an area with covenants, loosely enforced. Still seems to work fine.
Zoning law is backwards. If something is not explicitly permitted, you have to go begging to the board for the right to use your own land. In normal law, if something isn't specifically forbidden, you can do it. This is anti-freedom, but also creates too many obvious opportunities for graft (I've developed land in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and N Jersey, and believe me, the problem is common).
Another problem: land use law is the multiple "bites at the apple". You may get past the municipal zoning board, but what about the county planners, county conservation district, state DEP regulations, historic regulations etc. An owner can be forced to spend huge $ on engineering and legal, and get shut down by the final gang of vogons. The agencies can kill projects just by running up costs and delays of several years. I'v seen flagrantly lawless decisions that were obviously designed simply to delay an unpopular project and force more waste of $ in the hope of killing it.
Right now I'm dealing with a project that's zoning approved, but hung up on a county "land development" provision that is clearly a zoning restriction rather than a design parameter. The Count is effectively trying to overturn the local approval with an improper ordinance provision.