ZONING

CIRO ADAMS

Wilmington City Council

ciro adams wilmington city council member
Paid for by “Ciro Adams for City Council”

“Can’t Afford Your Rent? Blame Herbert Hoover”

The feds pushed cities to implement zoning restrictions. High prices and social inequity

were the inevitable results.

by Jonathan Rothwell

Reason Magazine - May 2020 Issue

This article is part of a feature package on how the American Dream became unaffordable for millions of working- class and middle-class Americans. For more on Reason's autopsy of how things veered off track, read "How the American Dream Became Unaffordable" or the other two features in the package, "How Doctors Broke Health Care" and "Student Loans Aren't Working." At the beginning of the 20th century, there were virtually no zoning laws in the United States. By 1921, zoning had come to 48 large U.S. cities, representing a fifth of the country's population. By 1932, 1,165 municipal governments had adopted zoning, covering more than two-thirds of the urban population. By 1968, nearly every metropolitan government had zoning, as did large swaths of rural America. It was a revolution, and a rapid one. Property owners were once allowed to use their land for the most profitable or desirable use: live on it, sell it to a commercial or industrial business, sell it to a developer. Now nearly every municipality has rules that dictate how a piece of land can be used and what kinds of housing, if any, are allowed on it. This wasn't a spontaneous shift: The federal government made a concerted effort to promote the comprehensive regulation of local land use through zoning. That hasn't just meant a decline in Americans' liberties. It has meant sharp increases in the cost of housing and a country much more segregated by class and race. Zoning arose at a time of rapid urbanization: The percentage of Americans living in urban areas jumped from 14 percent in 1880 to 54 percent in 1920. One source of this swelling was the Great Migration of African Americans out of the South and into Northern cities. Another was the large-scale migration of Eastern and Southern Europeans to the United States: The foreign-born share of American residents peaked at 15 percent around 1920.
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ciro adams wilmington city council member

CIRO ADAMS

Wilmington City Council

Paid for by “Ciro Adams for City Council”
facebook icon twitter icon

ZONING

“Can’t Afford Your Rent?

Blame Herbert Hoover”

The feds pushed cities to implement

zoning restrictions. High prices and

social inequity were the inevitable

results.

by Jonathan Rothwell

Reason Magazine - May 2020 Issue

This article is part of a feature package on how the American Dream became unaffordable for millions of working-class and middle-class Americans. For more on Reason's autopsy of how things veered off track, read "How the American Dream Became Unaffordable" or the other two features in the package, "How Doctors Broke Health Care" and "Student Loans Aren't Working." At the beginning of the 20th century, there were virtually no zoning laws in the United States. By 1921, zoning had come to 48 large U.S. cities, representing a fifth of the country's population. By 1932, 1,165 municipal governments had adopted zoning, covering more than two-thirds of the urban population. By 1968, nearly every metropolitan government had zoning, as did large swaths of rural America. It was a revolution, and a rapid one. Property owners were once allowed to use their land for the most profitable or desirable use: live on it, sell it to a commercial or industrial business, sell it to a developer. Now nearly every municipality has rules that dictate how a piece of land can be used and what kinds of housing, if any, are allowed on it. This wasn't a spontaneous shift: The federal government made a concerted effort to promote the comprehensive regulation of local land use through zoning. That hasn't just meant a decline in Americans' liberties. It has meant sharp increases in the cost of housing and a country much more segregated by class and race. Zoning arose at a time of rapid urbanization: The percentage of Americans living in urban areas jumped from 14 percent in 1880 to 54 percent in 1920. One source of this swelling was the Great Migration of African Americans out of the South and into Northern cities. Another was the large- scale migration of Eastern and Southern Europeans to the United States: The foreign-born share of American residents peaked at 15 percent around 1920.
READ MORE