With planning likely to become a major issue in next year's mayoral campaign, a recent survey shows that most residents would support new rules -- including possibly land use zoning -- to manage the region's sprawling development.
"Most Harris County residents would support zoning or other land-use planning tools to guide growth, protect neighborhoods and curb suburban sprawl, the 2008 Houston Area Survey shows.
Almost two-thirds of those responding to this year's survey thought more land-use planning would benefit Houston, three-quarters said redeveloping older urban areas was the best way to absorb population growth, and more than half said they would support zoning.
As neighborhood leaders push for stronger protections against development they consider unsuitable, political analysts and potential candidates said the survey results send a message that will resonate powerfully in the 2009 city election campaign.
"There is a clear perception that there needs to be a system to guide growth," said Stephen Klineberg, the Rice University sociology professor who has directed the annual survey since 1982 and will present this year's results to the Greater Houston Partnership on Wednesday. "There's a pretty powerful consensus there."
It's uncertain, however, whether these public attitudes will lead to new policies.
Klineberg and others cautioned that the survey gauges support only for general concepts. Details of a zoning ordinance or other planning initiatives might get a different reaction, they said."