I can see that the government plays a key deciding role in how land use is allocated across urban and suburban environments. An example illustrating the issue dates back to 1887 in a court case Mugler v Kansas where a brewery was forced to close its doors. The local governments decided that the brewery was not in the interest of the public regarding health and well being. The local governments exercised police power to close the brewery without compensation for the owner of said business. If the government body decided to use eminent domain the business owner would need to be compensated for the taking of his privately owned business but, that was simply not the case.

A man by the name of Edward M. Bassett was regarded as the father of “zoning” here in the united states, and zoning was indeed useful and necessary for the growth of early cities.  Early buildings in Manhattan after elevators became popular would be built like children’s  building blocks, boxy and with no setbacks.  These buildings were right up against the streets and would permanently eclipse adjacent buildings in perpetual shade.  This action was leading to major losses in capitol for adjacent buildings.  The results from this complaints forced the institution of setbacks as the building increased in height, allowing for sunlight to reach ground level around a tapered spear of the top of a building.  This building design is still seen today in older and newer buildings in Manhattan.

Image result for old manhattan buildings pitched roofs

In 1926 we saw a famous court case the city of Eucild v Amber realty.  In this court case we saw the village of Euclid deny the Amber realty company permission to build a commercial structure in a residential zone.  The court ruled in favor of Euclid, and following the court case municipal governments expanded the power of municipalities to zone and regulate the use of property and privately owned land.  Another court case pertaining to zoning would not be brought up for another 50 years.

It is important to realize that privately owned land is beneficial to local governments for collecting taxes to increase revenue for city spending.  There must be a balance between what a private owner of land can do with his property as long as it falls within what the city deems worthy for land use, business, public health etc.  The over regulation and strictness of certain zoning can be deeply detrimental to private business.  Zoning needs to become for fluid with an emphasis on more mixed use buildings.  And local governments should force private developers to incorporate LEED practices to make a better more sustainable city for the future.

Advertisements