Governments Shouldn’t Micromanage Land Use

I opened today’s West Side section of the Albuquerque Journal to find two seemingly unrelated stories that actually point to one of the biggest problems in economic development here in New Mexico: the tight control government bureaucrats have over land use decisions. As I have stated in the past on this blog, politicians are increasingly taking over land use decisions that should rightfully be made by property owners and developers.
One of today’s stories is about TIDD and the effort to prevent local governments from subsidizing some development at the expense of the rest of the city and county. Thankfully, Councilor Cadigan now supports stopping TIDD from being used on “greenfield” developments, most of which would happen on their own terms and without subsidy. This issue will be heard at the Council meeting Monday night.
The other article, also dealing with government micromanaging of land use, is about the owners of 80 acres in the South Valley who have been trying to develop the land into a shopping center. One might think that the political establishment would support economic development in the economically struggling South Valley, but the Bernalillo County Planning Commission seems to believe that pastoral poverty is superior to economic development.
The fact is that the subsidies for TIDD are bad, but the County Planning Commission is essentially stealing land from property owners by preventing them from using it for no better reason than personal preference. In both cases, allowing individuals acting in a free market to make decisions for themselves would be far superior to the political process.