Main Street Preservation Aims Harm Economy

<p>This article from <em>Reason</em> looks at a regulatory system in Alexandria, Virginia, that seeks to maintain the city's historic Old Town neighborhood. But is the regulation burdening local businesses owners to the point of hurting the economy?</p>
December 12, 2007, 7am PST | Nate Berg
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"Old Town Alexandria is an historic, charming stretch of city just outside of Washington D.C. that features lots of shops, restaurants, parks, cobblestone streets, and a waterfront teeming with American history. George Washington was a regular in Old Town, as was a young Robert E. Lee."

"The Alexandria Times article explained how Old Town Alexandria's onerous permit process and regulatory system have put a strain on small businesses, especially the small, independent outfits that give Old Town all of its charm. I'm fairly anti-regulation, but even I don't have too much of a problem with city ordinances that attempt to preserve unique neighborhoods with a distinct vibe or identity, particularly when the aim is to keep the quaint, historical atmosphere of a place like Old Town. These sorts of regulations are about as localized as you can get, in this case covering just a couple dozen or so city blocks."

"But as the article in the Alexandria Times illustrates, even on this parochial of a level, zoning officials and regulators still tend to overdo it with the regulating, then lapse into bureaucratic coma when local businesses have to navigate their way through the mess of red tape."

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Published on Wednesday, December 5, 2007 in Reason
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