In a prior post on the history of zoning in Pennsylvania, Jamie Strong cited the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, stating less than a third of Pennsylvania’s 2,561 municipalities have no zoning regulations. He wrote that, in general, it is the “more rural, less developed and less populated municipalities” in Pennsylvania that lack zoning. As of 2015, 98.2% of Pennsylvania’s urban population was zoned while only 68.9% of the rural population was zoned.
Such is not the case in Texas, where Houston, the state’s largest city, is “without” zoning. Houston is the butt of many zoning jokes – all of which are as dull as you’d expect a zoning joke to be. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating case study showing us how our cities and towns might look without the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code and local land use ordinances. (Google “pictures of Houston zoning.”) I recently read a few articles examining the effects of how Houston has handled development over the last 100 years. Two of the articles led me to the conclusion that Houston’s land use problems, whether real or perceived, have more to do with its historical lack of a comprehensive scheme – most notably, a comprehensive plan, than with a lack of zoning regulations. Continue Reading Houston, We Have a (Planning) Problem