The world’s population has been steadily increasing and soon we will need to reevaluate our take on preexisting home rule statutes. As it is now, only 11 states in our country have no form of home rule whatsoever which naturally means that anything that affects home rule will also affect these remaining 39 states. Currently, home rule plays an important role in zoning and building regulations and John Levy in “Contemporary Urban Planning” gives an example of a 12-story office building which would be profitable but is prohibited due to the municipality limiting building height to 6 stories (Levy 72). While in this case home rule is protecting the municipality from negative externalities, we need to think of the cost of home rule in terms of our current infrastructure’s adaptability to an increasing population. The municipality is usually responsible for absolving the cost of the potentially lost profit but this isn’t a proper solution to the problem.
For example, if a municipality is at its limit of the number of people it can accommodate, then an ordinance which limits the ability to create more housing is another barrier which must be overcome if growth is necessary and imminent. Eventually, our population will reach a point at which housing demand will skyrocket and when that happens any attempts to change existing legislation governing the building of higher density housing will likely be shot down by the residents of the municipality. Demand for a greater quality of life will increase as cities become more crowded. States will have to amend their home rule charters in order to prevent municipalities from fighting back against new housing projects and higher capacity infrastructure which is not ideal but necessary.
In theory, home rule protects the quality of life of certain municipalities but at the cost of quality of life somewhere else. For each person unable to be housed in one area due to municipal regulation, that person will need to be housed in another more densely populated area. These densely populated communities will be the victims of the normal consequences of greatly increased population density, that is, a higher crime rate and a higher disease morbidity rate. While there are studies that argue against the theory that crime rate increases proportionally with population density at the block level (http://www.sascv.org/ijcjs/harries.pdf), even if this is the case, a constant rate with an increasing population will create an increase in the magnitude of crime regardless. Thus, giving up home rule and by extension certain luxuries such as suburban sprawl and low density areas, residents get the benefit of improving the average quality of their state as a whole.