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If they were using Houston then the study was either an internal study for the city, or someone cherry picking their study area to make sure they got the results they needed.

Houston is either the worst place in the world to live, or the best depending on who you talk to. They have almost no zoning laws at all, which has resulted in endless sprawl. The place is literally where you go to study the effects of unbounded urban and suburban growth of a city.

I read a study about Houston recently that actually had another perspective on that. There's not "zoning" laws per se - you can build whatever you want - but there are minimum lot sizes and parking requirements that effectively limit the density of the city to the point where cost effective public transit is impossible. It's not really all that free. I think this was it. [ http://austinzoning.typepad.com/austincontrarian/files/ssrni... ]

Or a really nice good ole boy network where to build some stuff you need to be able to call in some favors.

The example wasn't just houston, it was other cities too with zoning.

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