Harvey Amplifies Partisan Debate Over Flood, Zoning Rules

Greenwire discusses Houston zoning laws with Marc Scribner.

Did regulations help Houston weather the impact of Hurricane Harvey, or did they hinder the city’s response and recovery efforts?

But Paul Larkin, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a right-leaning think tank, said he thinks the focus on zoning is misplaced.

“Zoning is an issue you could worry about down the road,” Larkin said. “Right now, it’s about keeping people from dying and getting sick.”

Marc Scribner, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Competitive Enterprise Institute, agreed with this sentiment, adding that he thinks some “uninformed articles” have perpetuated misperceptions about Houston’s housing laws.

“There’s a persistent myth that Houston lacks urban development regulation just because it lacks a formal zoning code,” Scribner said. “It’s true that they lack a formal zoning code … but they do have minimum lot-size requirements for single-family homes and a minimum parking requirement.

“Harvey is obviously a catastrophe that hasn’t been seen before, but I think the bigger thing is that Houston is very susceptible to this kind of thing,” he added. “It’s low-lying, very flat, and the soil is very rich in clay. So it has natural factors working against it, as well.”

Read the full article at Greenwire.