Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zone Defense: I still don't understand zoning laws

The Washington Post today reports on Cleveland Park a nice DC neighborhood, which is having trouble with empty store fronts. I used to live a 15 minute walk from Cleveland park and still venture over there for food sometimes.

As the article points out that 1/6 of the store fronts in Cleveland Park are empty. From econ 101 this could indicate landlords are trying to charge too much. But they can't just rent to anyone.

From the article
"Drawing the most blame is the 1989 zoning restriction limiting bars and restaurants to no more than 25 percent of the area's total linear store frontage, a threshold that the neighborhood has reached."

The thinking behind the zoning law was that restaraunts bring in people like me who drive over from Silver Spring and take up parking and cause traffic. It also raises rents for potential dry cleaners, grocery stores, and video rental places. All businesses which sell more to those living there.

By limiting restaraunts Cleveland Park residents could have cheaper services for themselves. Although housing prices also might decline if people prefer to live in neighborhoods with more restaraunts.

I really have no clue if for Cleveland Park residents this is a good policy. For me and the building owners trying to rent out space to restaraunts who are interested in opening up the policy is bad though.

Oh well at least Spices is still there.

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