The Destructive Role of Land Use Planning

The Destructive Role of Land Use Planning

Over the past century, land use planning by regulatory agencies has increasingly displaced the decentralized process of private landowners making their own decisions about land use. Local governments, county governments, state governments, and, to an increasing extent, the federal government are all requiring private landowners to modify their plans in order for their land to conform to government plans. Increasingly, such plans are justified as necessary to protect the environment, which extends their reach beyond traditional land use concerns like protecting residential neighborhoods from commercial intrusions.
These steps are justified by the need to account for the public interest in preserving endangered species, protecting the environment, coordinating land use in crowded urban centers, preventing urban sprawl, and curbing countless other alleged environmentally destructive ills. Only by imposing planning, so the argument goes, can the land use be rationalized to prevent destructive, self-interested behavior from creating a sterile series of concrete suburbs populated only by strip malls and sidewalk-less neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the increased scope and complexity of planning has reduced the clarity and certainty of property rights in land without necessarily accomplishing its goals. As the traditional rights of landowners become more dependent upon planners’ approval, property rights increasingly resemble feudal tenures rather than the traditional common law notions of property rights.

Andrew P. Morriss and Roger E. Meiners

Tulane Environmental Law Journal


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By |2018-01-01T00:00:00-08:00January 1st, 2018|Land Use Regulation, Political Economy, Reference|