06 September 2008

Zone Defense: Strip Malls with Actual Strippers

A guest post by Daryl Morey

For the second time ever, I have a guest blogger - and this one I did not have to sleep with as an inducement to post. My buddy Daryl has generously offered to write something for R World and I eagerly agreed. I've written about Daryl (in his first season as the Houston Rockets GM, the team put together the second longest winning streak in NBA history) and how much I enjoy him. Daryl is one person I never feel as though I have to slow down for when I'm engaged in conversation. He's quick, but he also loves big ideas, and he is not afraid to go deep or silly on any number of subjects. I'm delighted to share a little bit of him for you all here at R World. Enjoy!

As Ron has stated eloquently in his blog before (Rockets Win Again with Rookie GM), "I go where the data goes". This tendency, along with the fact that "I doubt the deep doubts" (Socrates) makes life a bit of an adventure as I might change a belief at any moment. To demonstrate my willingness to change, I will provide one recent anecdote.

First, a little background. I generally have libertarian views and believe the government should basically only do roads, courts, police, the army, and tax externalities. Otherwise, stay out of our lives please.

When I moved to Houston, I was excited to hear they had no zoning. I was very curious to see how well this worked, independent folks finally able to make free choice in how to use land! Long story short, I have basically come to the conclusion that it does not work and the list of what Guvment should do is now reluctantly one longer.

Exhibit number one into evidence is probably this picture. This spot is about 4 miles from our house. The sex shop is apparent but what is not apparent is that the unlabeled building behind said shop is actually a Niemen Marcus that is connected to the most high end mall in the city. One stop shopping for sure!

Actually, it is not this particular arrangement that caused me to now support zoning, as I find it mostly humorous. What made me a supporter of zoning is the fact that nothing in Houston makes any logical sense and it contributes to a host of negative outcomes: longer commute times, confusion, and general waste of both public and private space.

[Editor's note: Daryl's post is, for those of you keeping score, the 800th here at R World.]


Gypsy at Heart said...

Daryl! First thing off, Welcome... And for Ron's 800th post nonetheless - That's simply great Ron. Congratulations. Soon I hope, we shall be able to thumb through the encyclopaedia of Rworld thoughts - but I digress. So Daryl, you are completely right of course and this lack of zoning thing in Houston is beyond ridiculous. That eyesore of Zone D'Erotica was one of the first buildings I ever clapped eyes on when I came to live in Houston myself. Thankfully, I live within the memorial villages and so I do not have to put up with this. I support zoning too! In the meantime, my puritan self averts her eyes and avoids the Galleria area. ;-)

Big Al said...


Congrats on your guest spot. It's great to see Ron mixin' it up a little. I can't wait to see who he lines up for guest blogs 900 and 1000.

By the way, Daryl, will you accompany the team to Portland, OR in early November when they play the Blazers? If yes, you'll be visiting an area where our local government is probably close to the extreme OTHER end of the zoning spectrum from Houston. sigh . . .

I have to hand it to Zone D'Erotica for truly understanding that old phrase of "location, location, location". Case in point . . . before Z D' E: wife asking hubby, "Honey, why don't we go to the mall together?" followed by said hubby grumbling and being all surly rest of the day. Now: hubby asking wife, "Honey, let's go over to the mall. I wanted to stop in at Sears again and look for a wood lathe while you shop around" followed by wife now saying, "You are SUCH a dear. I can't believe how much you enjoy going to the mall."

Ron Davison said...

Thanks for welcoming your fellow Houstonian to R World. I hope that you don't close your eyes as you drive by this store.

of all the products you could mention in this scenario, you chose a wood lathe?

Big Al said...

Ron, I can tell by your response you've never used a wood lathe before, have you? Aaah the joys of taking a simple stick of wood and slowly, carefully, shaving off layers upon layers of wood, creating curly-cue wood shavings as deftly and deliciously as smoke rings from a pipe. The spicy aroma of freshly-cut pine or cedar or oak. And in the end . . . the prize . . . a beautifully-turned spindle leg.

I think I need to go to the mall, make that Sears, and check out wood lathes.

Lifehiker said...

I'm always amazed when I drive south from New York and begin to hit the "zoning-free" areas. What chaos and ugliness!

Perhaps the zoning board members in my beautiful suburb sometimes go too far in torturing citizens, but it's worth the pain.

Ron Davison said...

I have used a wood lathe. I did find it oddly gratifying. I do find it Freudian that you would mention it in this context.

you know, the one thing about up front planning and design - it always adds an upfront tax and it sometimes more than pays for itself.

exskindiver said...

For the record, my own prurient nature desensitizes me from such establishments.

There is always but always going to be someone at the edge or just at the border of a "zone of ugliness" (usually the hapless individual with less means).
I say either get rid of an "undesirable" altogether, because really is zoning the answer?

Or how about mandate that all business owners of Z D'E type of establishments must live, raise their families and shop in the same zoned area as their business.

Hi Daryl!

on an off topic,
Do you have any need for middle aged cheerleaders?

Ron Davison said...

So, the scorecard is, one puritan and one prurient. I am glad to see that R World encourages diversity. And you think that people should raise families in the ZD'E? You are sure that wouldn't lead to desensitization?

texasholly said...

I agree with Daryl 100% (wow, I don't know that I have ever written that before) because as a Libertarian I do think government is way too much into everything AND the Neiman Marcus next to the sex shop is amusing, but when you mess with organization and commute time you get my attention.

Angry Asian said...

I could be wrong, but if memory serves, the sex shop used to be a Whataburger. After moving back to Houston, it's disquieting to know that some things never change. Daryl, if you're looking to hire a Decision Sciences major from Kellogg, let me know.

The Fegonomist said...

While it is admirable that you are willing to ammend your worldview because of personal experience, I think this revelation begs a question: Do you think that maybe other data followers who doubt the deep doubt have looked into certain things and come to equally logical conclusions that the "Guvment" should be involved in other matters as well?
There is an ideal "government involvement level" for every little issue and my hunch would be that, if evaluated, very few would be zero.
Starting as a complete libertarin or a pure socialist and then evaluating on a case by case basis would probably lead to the same conclusion for any individual's set of values. If we're purely talking about efficiency, which I think you are, then there is a right or wrong answer in every case.

Regardless, I'm just curious if you 1) have considered that maybe the list is longer than you think and you just haven't seen all there is too see and
2) are willing to take someone else's word for it assuming their competance in such evaluations

I ask because I am interested in how the mind of a "new age" (read: smart) GM works, not to criticize.