Zoning has for a century enabled cities to chart their own course. It is a useful and popular institution, enabling homeowners to protect their main investment and provide safe neighborhoods. As home values have soared in recent years, however, this protection has accelerated to the degree that new housing development has become unreasonably difficult and costly. The widespread Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) syndrome is driven by voters’ excessive concern about their home values and creates barriers to growth that reach beyond individual communities. The barriers contribute to suburban sprawl, entrench income and racial segregation, retard regional immigration to the most productive cities, add to national wealth inequality, and slow the growth of the American economy. Some state, federal, and judicial interventions to control local zoning have done more harm than good. More effective approaches would moderate voters’ demand for local-land use regulation—by, for example, curtailing federal tax subsidies to owner-occupied housing.
Bill Fischel has taught economics at Dartmouth College since 1973. His scholarship focuses on local government, especially land use regulation and property taxation. Bill has served on the Hanover, New Hampshire, zoning board and on the board of directors of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
“Fischel knows what he writes about. His expertise bridges municipal zoning law and economics. In addition to his position at Dartmouth, Fischel holds a chair in legal studies, even though he does not have a law degree. Zoning Rules! brings together his insights from some 40 years of analyzing zoning, dating back to his influential 1985 book, The Economics of Zoning Laws.”
—Urban Land Magazine
“[Zoning Rules!] is one of the most important pieces of scholarship in years related to how government regulates land. The author is one of the most accomplished economists to study this important field, and gives insights that few others can.”