Theory, Methods and Public Policy
New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Gary Paul Green, Steven C. Deller and David D. Marcouiller
Chapter 16: Raising the Gangplank: A Defense of Localism Aimed at Resource Protection
Eric Olson INTRODUCTION Rural areas endowed with natural amenities such as shoreline resources, public lands, mountains and favorable climates continue to attract new housing investment for recreational and retirement homes. The development of land resources in such areas has many localized consequences ranging from increased traﬃc to higher property values to the introduction of non-native plants and animals. Local communities often seek to reduce or mitigate the negative eﬀects of development through planning and land-use regulations. The regulatory approach faces an uphill battle in rural contexts where norms and traditions have historically allowed landowners to manage and dispose of their holdings as they see ﬁt. A common caricature drawn of regulation proponents is that of the last one on the boat seeking to draw the gangplank up and prevent others from coming aboard. The gangplank metaphor represents a more serious critique of the exclusionary eﬀects of localism and land-use regulations. Much of the research and analysis of localism and land-use regulations has occurred in the metropolitan context. Little research exists to substantiate the negative social repercussions of such regulations in rural areas. Perhaps this is because most rural areas lacking amenities are declining in population and face little if any pressure for new housing and development. That such areas lack natural amenities implies that there may be little worth trying to protect with land-use regulations in the ﬁrst place. Amenity-rich rural areas, in contrast, present situations where population growth exerts pressure on an existing natural amenity that...
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