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We’re for more land use regulations, whatever that means

As long as Zogby was polling the Mayor’s race, they may as well ask about some other stuff, too. Like whether or not you like the Ashby highrise.

Out of 601 people surveyed between Oct. 12 and 15, 71 percent said they strongly or somewhat agree that “Houston should enact tougher land use restrictions.”

The results come from a range of questions about voter satisfaction with the direction the city is headed, their views on the tenure of outgoing Mayor Bill White and which issues they find most important as they consider his replacement.

Rice University sociologist Stephen Klineberg, who has gauged voter support for zoning and stronger development protections for decades, said much of the support for such planning improvements likely falls at the feet of the Ashby high-rise development.

[…]

“It reflects a broad recognition that people want to be prepared for the additional 1 million people who are going to be in Harris County in 20 years,” Klineberg said.

Mmm. I’ll grant that you’d likely have gotten a different answer to this question 20 years ago, but I think Klineberg is giving folks too much credit. I suspect this is one of those issues that polls well as a generic “do you support?” question, but any actual plan to implement it would be much less popular. Really, there’s nothing unusual about that – as long as it’s theoretical, everyone can assume they’re supporting their own personal idea of how it should be done. Nothing specific can match up with that. When someone proposes an actual ordinance, and there’s a vocal constituency loudly opposing it, then we’ll see how popular this is. Until then, color me skeptical.

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One Comment

  1. To say that people might not like the solutions that are chosen if the City pursues “tougher land use restrictions” is not a reason not to try. And, while the Chronicle question might be a reaction to Ashby, Klineberg has been asking similar questions for a long time, well before Ashby. His question asking people to choose between “Need better land use planning to guide growth or leave people free to build wherever they want” gets a 70% response in favor of planning, and that’s an old question in the survey.

    We have pretty tough land-use regulations right now, it’s just that they’re lousy and don’t address reality in any way. They basically make urban form illegal everywhere in the City except in the Central Business District. The new “urban corridors” ordinance opens the doors, but requires developers to adhere to some requirements to go urban around transit stations. It should be the case that urban is by right in those places and sub-urban form should have to prove a case to go forward.

    Whatever we do, there will be a “a vocal constituency loudly opposing it,” just as I and others now loudly oppose what we have. That’s democracy for ya.