Shaping urban form without zoning: a case study of houston

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Title: Shaping urban form without zoning: a case study of houston
Author: Qian, Zhu
Abstract: Houston is the only major city in North America without zoning . The growth of Houston illustrates a traditional free market philosophy in which land use zoning is seen as a violation to private property and personal liberty . This dissertation explores how the lack of zoning has an impact on land use and urban form in Houston . It is based on a theoretical framework derived from economics and public policy theories for institutional analyses of land development controls . The dissertation uses cluster analysis integrating socioeconomic factors from census data to select three case study neighborhoods , and then applies GIS to analyze their urban form spatial characteristics with spatial data from Houston Planning Department . It also uses qualitative methods such as archives and documentations for the three neighborhoods . The study investigates the change of urban form in three case study neighborhoods over two decades . It also explores how local land use policies made by both the local government and non -governmental sectors shape urban form in Houston . The study results show that despite the city ?s lack of zoning , local land use regulatory policies made by the municipality have significant influence on urban development . Additionally , civic and private organizations such as super neighborhoods and homeowner associations fill the gaps left by the lack of land use zoning . These two aspects contribute to land use planning and urban form of the city . Houston presents a contradiction of limited government intervention and public investments and subsidies . Land use controls by private contract and by government legislative intervention are not mutually exclusive or immutable . The study finds that it is difficult to achieve mixed race and income neighborhoods , even without zoning . Equity goals are not met in market approaches . Deed restrictions might be better at facilitating property sales and maintenance than at improving community welfare and governance . From the theoretical perspective , the study argues that a spectrum of market solutions and planning approaches at the ends are more relevant than the bipolarity view . Equity goals are not met in market approaches . For welfare and rights , public planning intervention is necessary . The market might provide physical land use diversity , but it fails to support socioeconomic diversity .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -3253
Date: 2009-05-15


Shaping urban form without zoning: a case study of houston. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -3253 .

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