Friday, May 29, 2015
Did Houston's No-Zoning, No-Planning Anarchy Help Cause Floods?
In 2015, Houston, Texas still lacks zoning and has poor planning. The result is the hideous floods we saw recently. We lived in Houston for two years and it is the most hideous City in America -- tacky, ugly and mosquito-ridden, with sulfurous refinery emissions, and condos next to auto repair joints next to honky tonks next to churches next to fried chick joints next to scrapyards next to vacant lots. Some 25% of the land is unoccupied, leading to sprawl. In H.L. Mencken's phrase, Houston looks like it was designed by someone "with a libido for the ugly." Worse, there is poor drainage (see photo). In contrast, Memphis, Tennessee (where I lived during law school) learned its lesson from 1880s Yellow Fever epidemics, when Memphis ceased to exist and lost its corporate charter from Tennessee. There is exquisitely good drainage in Memphis, almost none in Houston. LESSON: we need more zoning and planning, not less.