Divergence in Land Use Regulations and Property Rights
For the past century, property rights-and in particular development rights-have been circumscribed and largely defined by comprehensive local land use regulations. As any student of land use knows, zoning across the country shares a common DNA. Despite their local character, zoning limits on development rights in almost every American jurisdiction share a deep family resemblance borne from their common origin in the Standard Zoning Enabling Act ("SZEA"). Zoning for much of the twentieth century therefore converged around a core goal of separating incompatible uses of land as a kind of ex ante nuisance prevention. Of course, zoning went much farther than the common law of nuisance, but its animating justification was to minimize the externalized impacts of certain kinds of intensive development.