Towards a better tinyhouse

Inventing to freedom?

Reading material about history and politics of zoning and stuff

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What I was going to do was search my own browser history to get the documents that I thought were the best I have read, but firefox’s history search thing doesn’t work. Anyway, I found some of the docs again, and some new ones, too.

However, before you start reading, I just wanted to say, that I really think you have to be aware of post hoc (and other types of) rationalizations. There are really a lot of those. Nicholas Taleb says it well in his book The Black Swan, people are extremely prone to coming up with these – ask someone (especially an adult) why world war I started, and they will mumble something about a prince being killed. The truth is the exact info on why has been lost to history, and in fact may not have been recorded by historians proper, or been available to the public anyway. Most likely that was just an excuse, or just sort of assumed to be the cause.

Ask why cities have zoning and people will sigh, wave, and say something about preventing bad things from happening, like someone building and airport next to a residential area. Whatever the original purported reasons, zoning, like the police, is used for anything and everything that people can get away with, the supposed “reason” for it means nothing, and is always changing. It’s a tool, and excuse. Most of the “reasons” given are excuses people came up with once they decided they want something, of course….

For example, there was one document that I wanted to include but couldn’t find, in which it was noted that almost all the rationalizations for banning mobile homes are clearly not based on reality, e.g. that people who live in them move frequently, but the truth is (and I remember the numbers) residents of site built homes live on average for 54 months between moves, and residents of mobile homes, 49 months. And yet that “reason” has been used for ages. Never mind whether or not it would even make sense if it were true i.e. actually do a community any net harm, which most likely no one has even checked, given that no one had even checked to see if it is in fact true, which is pretty easy, just look at the change of addresses in the right government database(s).

Plus even if it did, you can’t just consider the local community, the government is supposed to work for *everyone*….


Of course you won’t care about these, but you can find the equivalent for your own locale:

Example of rationalizing, practically propaganda, in info given out by the government, they conveniently don’t mention any of the downsides, not that I think zoning is inherently bad, but they are being grossly dishonest: minutes, search it using the google site: operator to see de facto how they do things

From the blogs, I’m sure there are many more, would be nice if these could be rounded up and added to the tinyhousewiki (heck, that could go for a lot of stuff): I disagree with most of what this says, I would not expect, for instance, a single individual cozying up to local politicians to work for beans, but with a group certainly interesting, and it seems like really the only long term, practical solution. Garden suites discussion paper, pretty good. IIRC this is where the $5000 net reduction in surrounding property values was referred to. Would be nice to see the original study. That’s not for the neighboring properties, but for all them put together. In other words a fraction of a percent the total value. And that calculation excluded other factors such as higher density which may easily more than counteract the supposed loss of value.

Says laneway housing seem to increase, not decrease, property values: Some on the history of mobile homes and stigma, also some stuff about how treating mobile homes as real estate tax-wise would be better, leading to a cascade in which banks are more willing to finance them, and they don’t depreciate as fast. Lots of references, I bet lots of good stuff to find by following those trails.

Only portrays rosy side of what other people think while obviously the nasty side is actually far more dominant:

Zoning people don’t or at least didn’t really know what they are doing that much anyway:

Problems with zoning and how it raises prices (100% directly!) and cause a lot of the financial crisis, also points put how homeowners abuse policy to jack up prices, but I don’t get why you couldn’t do it better, and get the best of both approaches:

The “Circumventions” part seems to indicate developers are getting an absolute ton of free money when land is re-zoned, but that would need more looking into, presumably any rational municipality would auction off the rezoned land so they get the money: also note the use of zoning for racist purposes and the housing affordability section. You know I’m Canadian. but I tell you, most of what is on the web in english is inevitably US-centric.

Redlining even in the 90s tangentially related “FHA appraisal manuals instructed banks to steer clear of areas with “inharmonious racial groups” and recommended that municipalities enact racially restrictive zoning ordinances, as well as covenants prohibiting black owners.”

Just a few random examples of how zoning is abused, I can’t believe the no working at home thing, also aesthetic restrictions are far more common than they say here, in fact they are the norm everywhere in residential neighborhoods (and there’s nothing new about it) : also, the values vs. prices thing again, and the big, flashy, spectacular examples might be good for argumental purposes, but they are not at all the big story, rather there are effects less likely to get in a newspaper which are far more damaging to the actual population and, far more meaningful.

Also, couldn’t really find any further info abut that house being bulldozed situation except and and the city seems to be Skaneateles .

Need to get the documentation on all those judicial decisions and stuff for all those court cases.


Written by gregor

April 26, 2011 at 00:09

Posted in Uncategorized

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