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Should there be zoning laws in cities that limit the maximum height of buildings?

ChristianKl          20 May 2015 12:00 AM


Many people want to live in vibrant cities like London, Berlin or Palo Alto. Because of a limited amount of flats, market forces bring rents to rise. The result is gentrification where poor people can't afford anymore to live in certain neighborhoods.

A straightforward way to combat the rising prices would be to increase the supply of flats. Given that the area of neighborhoods where people want to live is limited, a solution would be to build higher buildings.

At the same time owners of single-family house usually don't want that the neighbor is allowed to build a apartment building on his lot. Should there be rules to force a neighborhood to have a uniform or maximum building height?





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melian 20 May 2015 05:11 AM
72%

High-rise buildings can have both positive and negative effects on local communities. While they help with land scarcity, they can make adjacent areas less desirable, bring property prices down and hurt a local tourism industry. I think in most cases the decision should be left to the local population.


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VoiceOfRa 21 May 2015 07:29 PM
67%

Observe that this tilts the balance heavily against high-rises many of the benefits of high rises accrue to potential newcomers who get cheaper apartments.


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melian 22 May 2015 07:05 AM
74%

I suppose in this situation the interests of the current residents should take precedence. It is the current residents (or their ancestors) who created a successful community that is now attractive to outsiders. Imposing high-rise buildings on the locals for the benefit of potential newcomers feels like an expropriation of property.

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ChristianKl 20 May 2015 12:22 PM
65%

What size are you speaking about when you say "local community"? How many households?

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melian 20 May 2015 02:41 PM
76%

Making decisions on the level of municipality would probably be most practical.

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FrameBenignly 21 May 2015 09:08 AM
68%

No, housing suppliers such as local homeowners should not be able to restrict new housing supply such as a tall building to keep prices artificially high. New housing in your area is part of the risk you take on when buying a home. They're taking money from other people with zero consequences to themselves when communities do that.


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melian 21 May 2015 12:02 PM
75%

What if the restrictions are already in place? People might pay for a house assuming no high risers would ever be built next to it and then suddenly it loses half of its market value.



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Fwiffo 21 May 2015 04:29 PM
57%

I don't think people are entitled for their assumptions to hold. Knowing by which rules the restictions might change is the part on which you can rely on. What the politcal process and result will be can't be guaranteed.

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Fwiffo 21 May 2015 04:34 PM
60%

The zero consequences seems like an extreme statement with little to no backing. By the same logic if you destroy a chair in your possesion you are stealing money from the guy who would have bought it off you. Establishing that an area ought to have a certain quality means you will then have to live with it. Housing might be more valuable but good luck trying to attract offices when distances are huge.

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FrameBenignly 21 May 2015 07:34 PM
72%

Except in the example you don't own the chairs you're destroying or at least keeping off the market. It's more like you're planning to sell the chair and then forcing all the other chair sellers out so everybody has to bid for your chair.

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DanielLC 21 May 2015 09:10 PM
65%

Given that it's not feasible to buy the rights to build the building higher from the people nearby, I'd suggest making it so they have to pay the neighbors, or at least the government, and amount equal to the negative externalities they cause. If this isn't feasible, then err on the side of less restriction, and let them build.


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FrameBenignly 22 May 2015 08:38 AM
70%

Should car manufacturers have paid the buggy whip manufacturers for putting them out of business too?

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melian 23 May 2015 10:45 AM
72%

There are two ways to lower property values in any neighborhood:

1) By doing something that directly reduces the quality of life there (for example, by building a noisy factory or a high riser).

2) By building an even better neighborhood in a nearby area which will compete with the old one.

I think your analogy describes the second way.


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DanielLC 26 May 2015 07:06 PM
65%

Putting buggy whip manufacturers out of business just altered the market instead of directly harming anyone. It helped the people who would have bought them as much as it hurt them, so the net externalities are zero.

If you make the neighborhood ugly and drive down property values for that reason, you are creating a negative externality that you should pay for. If you're just giving them competition, that's different.

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ChristianKl 22 May 2015 05:53 AM
65%

This would basically mean to have higher property taxes for bigger buildings. I see no reason that speaks against it.

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DanielLC 26 May 2015 07:12 PM
64%

There's a difference between a high tax and banning. If you tax it a lot, then if someone really needs to do it, or you vastly underestimated the importance and everyone needs to do it, they can just pay the taxes. If you ban it, then they need to hire lobbyists and it all gets political.

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Fwiffo 22 May 2015 09:44 AM
63%

THe externalities are not easily objectively measured. Also some uses of land and property might be more sensitive to what the neighbourhood is like. Do I get compensation for what I in fact do or what I could have done? What if new activity that is negatively impacted by the big building is established? If you mean to bypass the neighbours veto rights it still emerges in an alternate form. Neighbours will tend to overstate and overemphasise the externatilities that they feel instead of raising their right sell price.

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