Rent Costs and Zoning Laws

Few people enjoy living in downtown areas because of the surprisingly high costs of rent and small living spaces. The nation’s three biggest cities—New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—are some of the most expensive cities to live in, but maybe not for the reasons that you might think. Sure, living in the city instead of commuting is convenient, but this convenience is not the main reason for such high costs. The main reason preventing you from choosing the right fit for your residential needs are zoning laws.

Different cities have different laws that restrict building height and dictate minimum lot sizes. Taller buildings are a great marketing strategy to fit more people into a smaller plot of land, but zoning laws keep new building construction at only a few stories. Using the most land possible would seem like a great way to keep land prices lower, but zoning laws ensure minimum lot sizes that keep more construction out of the question.

Zoning laws are keeping your dreams of living in a luxury apartment in the city from becoming a reality.
Zoning Laws Infographic

Nestor Gilbert

By Nestor Gilbert

Nestor Gilbert is a senior B2B and SaaS analyst and a core contributor at FinancesOnline for over 5 years. With his experience in software development and extensive knowledge of SaaS management, he writes mostly about emerging B2B technologies and their impact on the current business landscape. However, he also provides in-depth reviews on a wide range of software solutions to help businesses find suitable options for them. Through his work, he aims to help companies develop a more tech-forward approach to their operations and overcome their SaaS-related challenges.

Dustin says:

I am sure people will try to draw a relationship between crime rate and density. If there a study that shows there isn't a causal or even correlary effect between increasing density and crime rate. Per capita basis is all that I am interested in.

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Glenn Donaldson says:

I really hate the zoning laws we have. All the rent control solutions tend to do much more harm than good as well. We should be able to just collect land value taxes, redistribute these rent payments to each member of the community, and charge people who are polluting the environment (with toxins, radiation, bright lights, loud noises, etc.) more. Central planning isn’t as efficient as an internal price mechanism that will lead to more order.

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Miranda Petersen says:

I think that we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of zoning laws. However, it seems to me that we’re just using them the wrong way. At least in the US. Creating laws that aim at having suburbs with only residential areas (with maybe a local store and a gas station) is a sure recipe for a catastrophe. This is simply projecting our concerns from the 19th century to our modern 21th century lives.

I’d like to see zoning laws amended so that they encourage urban density, especially around current traffic corridors. What we need is a mixed commercial street level, residential towers, and most likely no buildings less than two storeyshigh. We need to deal with parking in a clever way, too. There shouldn’t be big parking lots everywhere. They can be located below the ground level or within separate buildings. At the very least the shouldn’t be right in the middle of the pedestrian space.

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Robert Beckett says:

Did you ever wonder what good would come out of abolishing zoning laws? Personally, I can’t see any benefits of such a solution. Zoning laws make sense to me. Sure, I hate it when you wherever your turn your head all you see are residential cookie-cutter neighbourhoods with absolutely no commercial buildings or parks in sight, but what we really need is simply devising better planning for urban areas: no cookie cutter homes, more parks, roads built with pedestrians in mind, no parking lots facing streets, etc. Abolishing zoning laws would simply result in chaos.

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