Houston city councilman Peter Brown, unique as a devotee of smart growth (compact development) in this city of light land use regulation, placed third in the mayoral election yesterday. Brown had long advocated Portland-style smart growth land use and development policies for the city of Houston and looked likely to garner the most votes in the four-way race. Brown, an architect and urban planner, spent more than $3 million of his own money in the election.
The Houston metropolitan area distinguished itself by not experiencing the profligate credit and smart growth related house price bubble and, as a result experienced little decline in house prices and largely avoided the Great Recession. Houston is the largest municipality in the nation without zoning, however, with land regulation being principally limited to private covenants between land owners. Other Texas metropolitan areas also averted the housing bubble and the Great Recession, because their generally more liberal approaches to land regulation did not produce the price distortions that occurred in more highly regulated metropolitan areas as in California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.