Does land use regulation hurt the environment?

I have just read Prof. Richard Florida’s article, based on a recent University of Chicago/UC Berkeley study of land use regulations stifling productivity on a whooping 9% of GDP per year. Prof. Florida argues that where not for that decrease in productivity, the Rust Belt and other hard hit areas would be far worse off. I have a few comments, for which I do not presume to have a final say, so I will leave them as questions.

  1. Wouldn’t New York’s or San Francisco’s potential triple digit growth rates be good for the environment, since everyone would choose those metropolitan areas and most of the country’s greenfields would be left alone?
  2. If we agree to the premise that land use regulations have reduced productivity and that metros like NYC or SFO would otherwise be even more attractive, does that necessarily mean that every company in the country would flock there, leaving the rest of the country deprived of any productivity and ravaged with poverty?
  3. Are we saying that the only reason recovery is underway in the Rust Belt is because large cities have been reined in by regulation? Isn’t that view contemptuous of the efforts of smaller cities and towns by assuming that every victory they get on the econ dev department is due to land use regulations in cities far away?
  4. Does the boost for Sun Belt cities that makes them more attractive regardless of their wasteful land use patterns and unsustainable dependence on air conditioning worsen negative environmental effects?



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