NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Suburbs Shunning Kids

August 19, 2003

Because the cost of educating children now exceeds what their parents' houses yield in taxes, many local governments are relying on zoning ordinances to limit unwanted growth. They aren't providing land for housing, especially apartment buildings, and they attempt to zone only for commercial buildings. In California, auto malls are king, and in New Jersey, commercial office parks are the most valuable things, say observers.

  • Ventnor, N.J., a shore town that sends its high school students to Atlantic City at a cost of $12,000 a year each, recently started offering owners of apartment buildings $22,000 to convert year-round rentals to seasonal.
  • In the development corridors of central and northwestern New Jersey, many towns have adopted minimum lot sizes of 5 or 10 acres.
  • The fast-growing western suburbs of Boston, for example, are scrambling for developments with age restrictions and otherwise engaging in what one legislator calls "vasectomy zoning."
  • Naperville, Ill., outside Chicago, is imposing restrictive covenants on some new developments to prohibit sales to people under 55.

Twenty-five or thirty years ago, observers say, industry was anathema to suburbs, so office buildings and housing were seen as desirable. All of a sudden they realized how expensive schoolchildren are.

Source: Laura Mansnerus, "Great Haven for Families, but Don't Bring Children," New York Times, August 13, 2003.


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