Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Houston Is Drowning—In Its Freedom From Regulations

They value their freedom, but now expect others to help them.

By Steve Russell On 8/28/17

We do value our freedom here in Texas. As I write from soggy Central Texas, the cable news is showing people floating down Buffalo Bayou on their principles, proud residents of the largest city in these United States that did not grow in accordance with zoning ordinances.

The feeling there was that persons who own real estate should be free to develop it as they wish. Houston, also known as the Bayou City, is a great location because of its access to international shipping in the Gulf of Mexico. It is not a great location for building, though, because of all its impervious cover. If water could easily sink into the ground, there would be less of it ripping down Houston’s rivers that just a week ago were overcrowded streets.

In less-free cities, the jackbooted thugs in the zoning department impose limits on the amount of impervious cover in a development. Some of the limits can be finessed by lining parking lots with bricks turned sideways, so grass can be planted in the holes.


As I write this, Hurricane Harvey is ambling off toward Louisiana, taking with him the high winds and the danger of storm surges but leaving rain and more rain. Critics in the cheap seats are complaining that Houston issued no mandatory evacuation order. That would only occur to somebody who has never sat in the parking lot that Loop 610 becomes at least twice a day when people are just going to and from work.

Putting the entire population on the roads at the same time, roads that are prone to flash floods when rains are nowhere near these historic levels, would mean not just inconvenience but fatalities. There would be at least as many rescues to be done as there are now, but they would be more dangerous rescues.


Houston was built without regard for the carrying capacity of its roads, just as it was built without regulating the amount of impervious cover that would be shedding water into streets, storm sewers, rivers and Buffalo Bayou.

Texans do value their freedom.

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