When I was born, Bend was still a wood products industry town based around logging and the local mills. These days, it's trying to develop a high tech industry, and doing reasonably well at it for a small-ish town. Places need to adapt, and rigid zoning is probably detrimental to that adaptation. Markets take in everyone who lives, or wants to live in a place. Planning commissions, or even city councils, have just a few people with their own ideas of "how things should be".
In terms of how they're too regulated, sure:
And Exhibit A: the market for housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is completely batshit crazy because of the refusal to build housing.
In what ways are they too regulated, and in what ways not regulated enough? ... How much regulation is just right?
Without answers to those questions, we have nothing serious to act on.
> By enacting laws, you create a very rigid situation
A general statement, but laws can change. Laws often are written to create flexibility, delegating authority to regulatory commissions. Markets can be very rigid; look that the market power of Windows, whose dominance has lasted longer than most politicians' careers. When is the last time the market allowed in a new car manufacturer (Tesla hasn't yet survived infancy, and if it does it will be the only exception in (80?) years). How long does it take to change a web standard in the 'free' market? If they were government regulations, they could be changed like analog to digital TV or the reallocation of spectrum. I thought Europe's regulated, universal GSM was better than the U.S.'s 'market' solution of competing technologies.
Also, laws allocate power democratically to all citizens. The 'market' allocates it to those with the most money.
> Planning commissions, or even city councils, have just a few people with their own ideas of "how things should be".
I disagree; they are creations of and responsive to the democratic process. The market, on the other hand, is responsive to a few people with the most money; most citizens have no say. I don't want my community run by the wealthy, with 99% of citizens living like subjects under an aristocracy.
> In terms of how they're too regulated, sure: ...
I don't see a few op-eds as evidence; I have no doubt there are enough people who believe it that op-eds could be supplied daily. If you are correct about SF Bay Area (I don't know), it is an example of something that is over-regulated in some way, not evidence that the everything is over-regulated (again, could you really be saying that?).
That said, I think housing and cities are overregulated in the US.
Those op-eds point out a lot of issues that you can study further and find that mostly, the cause is zoning and regulation of housing/land use. They also cite other sources.
Here's a book, talking just about parking:
http://amzn.to/2jvfxpJ - Donald Shoup's "The High Cost of Free Parking".
Here are some books about zoning and regulation:
Ryan Avent's "The Gated City": http://amzn.to/2jv3dpk
Bill Fischel's Zoning Rules!: http://amzn.to/2j62fTw - dry and very, very thorough.
Cities plan transport infrastructure years or decades in advance, and spend vast sums of money, with very different incentives to the market. Leaving parts of that plan (like parking) up to the whims of the market might seem a bit irresponsible.
For example; if a city makes design trade-offs favouring heavy long-term road use, but the market decides in the shorter term that office blocks are more profitable, then you end up with mismatched capacity (headaches for drivers and ineffective public spending) and inadequate investment in infrastructure for cycling, walking, and public transport. Now you could argue that the market will step in and fix the parking problem, but that could easily take longer than an election cycle, and cost the local economy vast sums in wasted investment and lost opportunity.
They are concerned about being elected, that's it. Hence why we have huge infrastructure bills coming to haunt us, pensions that are out of control (though dwarfed by infrastructure costs), and other passing the buck behavior.
That's not to say they're bad, do no good, etc. Just that their incentives are such that they can't enact good policy oftentimes or possibly even tell the truth to voters. Otherwise they lose power.
>Leaving parts of that plan (like parking) up to the whims of the market might seem a bit irresponsible.
In NYC, large portions of the subway system, Metro North, the PATH, Long Island Railroad, and New Jersey Transit and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor were built by private companies (or even multiple competing companies) to make a buck.
In the case of the subway, the city wanted control and fixed the price such that it wouldn't rise with inflation. A few decades of that and heavy car subsidies and suddenly the two companies go bankrupt and the city takes over.
Then the city demolished a whole bunch of useful elevated lines which even now are not fully replaced.
Then it continued to fix prices (even had an elected board to set prices, guess what voters wanted?) and now we have a huge backlog of deferred maintenance and outdated technology when we once were world leaders.
Most American cities have similar stories, it just is streetcars instead of subways. LA even used to have a bigger rail system than NYC, believe it or not.
Tokyo by the way continues to have multiple semi private companies run its rail and subway systems. Seems to work well. Same in Hong Kong IIRC and a few other Asian cities. Outside of Asia, many cities at least outsource running the systems to companies like Keolis (which is French), even if they fund expansion.
>For example; if a city makes design trade-offs favouring heavy long-term road use, but the market decides in the shorter term that office blocks are more profitable, then you end up with mismatched capacity
The best transportation policy is to not move at all or otherwise minimize trip distance and increase the density of connections.
Pre-zoning US cities were all mixed use, compact, and generally either gridded or (as in downtown Manhattan) grew organically with many connections (lots of narrow windy streets down there) as you see in many Old World cities.
Transportation costs were low; foot, bike, and transit were sufficient, even after the advent of the automobile.
If the city is ignoring this to promote cars it's a failure of city planning, not the market, when valuable land is used for valuable purposes. It's doubly a failure since it can use zoning to prevent these buildings from being built and / or eminent domain afterwards.
What that has to do with the market I don't understand.
>inadequate investment in infrastructure for cycling, walking, and public transport.
Businesses generally love walkers, hence why Fifth Avenue rents are so high. They'll pay for sidewalks for sure if they're not provided in front of their buildings if it's a place walking can be expected.
In Okinawa Japan where I lived it was a car centric place but they provided (possibly paid) parking with no legal mandates.
Historically most transit was built by private companies in the US, including the NYC subway (which was two companies originally, with the city owned IND later).
>Now you could argue that the market will step in and fix the parking problem, but that could easily take longer than an election cycle, and cost the local economy vast sums in wasted investment and lost opportunity.
The first subway line, using mostly pickaxes and other hand tools to excavate, took 4 years to build. We had a whole bunch of elevated rail lines and streetcars in NYC built by private funds. I'm sure with modern technology we could build faster than that.
So long as competition isn't heavily subsidized the market can work.
With transit cars were subsidized (even by transit itself; oftentimes they'd have to pay for some of all road maintenance on their routes) and most cities fixed transit prices driving them out of business.
Politicians are clearly incentivised by election, but saying its their only concern is generalising and reductionist.
The rest of your comment makes a lot of points, but broadly seems to assume that I'm claiming that private companies have no place in transport infrastructure, which is not the case. My point was that "the market" meaning an unmanaged build-it-and-they-will-come approach would not be optimal, in response to my parent commenter's "an easy thing for a market to fix".
Of course, public things like streets and roads and so on needs some planning. I'm no Ayn Rand "privatize all the things" guy.
But make that infrastructure flexible and less rigid and allow a city to adapt. The city where I live had 20K people 40 years ago, and was a logging/mill town. Now it's a tourist town with a budding high tech industry and closing in on 100K. Too much land use planning gets in the way of a city adapting.
Similarly... it's hard to impossible to predict the future, which is why economists predictions are so often wrong, as you point out. Gold rushes often ended in ghost towns. Who's to say in another 20 years your town won't be back doing logging and milling, and would be better off not bending to support an industry that may turn out to be ephemeral?
The item that worries me, and based on decades of observation, that the private companies will snap up all the profitable routes and leave the non-profitable routes to the city, thus deepening the budget gap.
The "market" will do that w/o some sort of regulation specifying that the private companies have to support the other routes.
Kind of points to the cable industry and local agreements w/ towns.
I must say, I'm happy with my local elected officials. The main problem I see on the national level are politicians with an ideology - government can't do anything, thus they obstruct everything. They are the problem, not government.
(I'm not saying government is at all perfect, but democracy is a great tool.)
It does seem like an easy, and popular, refrain to claim over-regulation. It's a great way to sound contrarian and wise without actually having to do any analysis, after all, the market do the work so no planning is needed. In that noisy environment, asking for specifics of precisely what is over-regulated and why seems both fair and necessary.
> I thought Europe's regulated, universal GSM was better than the U.S.'s 'market' solution of competing technologies.
A similar example, the market has decided on competing standards for charging points for electric vehicles (in the UK at least, I expect most other places too). If a family of standards had been created to cover the various voltage/current requirements, rather than leaving it solely up to manufacturers then the time overhead for drivers of EVs could be dramatically improved, removing a significant obstacle to adoption.