Discrimination Dressed Up As Discriminating Taste

In this post from Reason, Tim Cavanaugh joins the debate over preservation holding back the city, and argues that land use regulations have a wholesale negative impact on the city.

Citing a recent article in The New York Times arguing for more regulations on land use, Cavanaugh argues that land use regulations simply allow the prejudices of those who write and enforce them to rule the land.

"This is the part of the conversation where defenders of zoning ridicule the idea that we are still bound by the bigotries of our forebears. Sure, planning intervention still produces separate communities, but good taste knows no color (except maybe Burnt Sienna). We're well past that kind of narrow-mindedness, right?

What planning department allowed this to be built? I'm not so sure. The proud planning history of Los Angeles includes anti-Semitic zoning, Nat King Cole's one-man desegregation of Hancock Park, and racially restrictive "covenants" on property titles. Today, the favored term of zoning disparagement is the epithet "Persian Palace" to describe gaudy mansions built by Iranian-Americans. When you look at the type of people who end up on the receiving end of land-use enforcements – from rooster restrictions to harassment of Antelope Valley hillbillies by "nuisance abatement teams" to censorship of outsider artists via permitting requirements – they sure don't seem to be folks at the top of the food chain in terms of political influence."

Full Story: Urban Design Hipsters Are Evil



I've heard this unreasonable argument before.

Darwin was a racist, therefore evolution is wrong. Early family planning efforts were tangled up in eugenics, therefore modern family planning is wrong. Historical zoning was racist therefore modern zoning is wrong. It's the same invalid argument.
This is an incredibly cheep shot, especially coming from a libertarian based magazine that would likely support an overturn of the Civil Rights Act. They view government intervention as inherently evil, and so they don't mind connecting zoning to racism even though they think that private business owners should be allowed to discriminate based on race. What integrity!

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