As a bonus, it contains an in-depth comparative look at French and American (specifically, New York and Parisian) approaches to land use and zoning:"Euclidean zoning distorts the real estate market in so many ways that it manages to simultaneously conflict with conservative, libertarian, and liberal values. In addition to increasing the average price of housing, “[t]he fact that a zoning map allows high density housing in some areas, only single family housing in others, only industrial and commercial use in designated locations, and high rise office buildings in downtown areas, creates great disparity in value among a city’s many properties.” While “[a] local regulation imposing a maximum land value would almost certainly be viewed as a [Fifth Amendment] taking, . . . zoning laws that effectively impose a maximum land value have been upheld. . . .”
And because municipal zoning authorities, rather than the market, dictate what housing types will be available and favor single-family homes, “profitable sites for [multifamily housing] are artificially scarce” and thus artificially expensive. Such a situation is clearly incompatible with free-market principles, and since affordable housing often means some type of multi-family housing, it is also hostile to the goal of increasing the access of lower-income families to affordable housing. In addition, Euclidean zoning increases the burden on middle-class families: while the artificial scarcity of multi-family sites might be expected to reduce the cost of single-family homes by increasing the availability of single-family sites, this possibility is nullified by the tendency of suburban municipalities to require large minimum lot and house sizes. That “forces people to consume land and improvements they do not want,” at a higher cost than they would pay were they allowed to buy only the amount of property they want. “This forced consumption is inefficient because the recipient could sell the extra land and improvements on the market for more than what they are worth to the recipient. . . .”
"[T]he most recent Paris zoning code divides the city and surrounding greenspace into just four zones, three of which are neither residential nor commercial (those three are Zone N (Nature and Forests); Zone UV (Green Urban), i.e. parks and other public landscaped areas; Zone UGSU (Major Urban Services), i.e. train stations and rail lines, hospitals, waste treatment centers, water reservoirs, riverside ports, convention centers, and major centers of industrial distribution); the city’s houses, apartment buildings, shops, cafés, offices, and other commercial establishments thus fall within a single zone, General Urban."
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As for the relative absence of unsightly buildings, this is at least in part due to the fact that Paris has historically tended to zone for structures rather than uses. Between 1607 and 1902, zoning was used to set maximum building heights, to regulate building materials due to fire risk, and to impose minimum courtyard sizes to promote access to sunlight and free circulation of air. This has continued to the present day, with Paris’s General Urban district subdivided not into use zones but into areas of different maximum heights and structure types."
This is a true comparative look at property rights, much unlike the International Property Rights Index I mentioned earlier this week, and delves into the crucial details that, when applied in the aggregate, have enormous consequences for the resultant urban form.