Distributive politics, ward representation, and the spread of zoning
This analysis examines two alternative explanations for the adoption of comprehensive zoning ordinances in the years immediately following its initial adoption in New York City. The market failure explanation predicts zoning adoption in cities where externality problems (represented by heavy incidence of manufacturing) exist. The distributive policymaking model treats zoning as a form of regulation that is most likely to be found in cities where local legislators are elected from geographically-concentrated constituencies (e.g., wards) and therefore try to target policy benefits to their own constituencies while spreading the policy costs over all constituencies. Some support is found for each model. Especially striking is the interactive effect of ward representation and of economic interest (i.e., levels of home ownership).