Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Local governance debate

Bob Nelson and Evan McKenzie debate private comunities here.  Nelson considers the upside and McKenzie takes the other side.  They actually compare two types of governance (conventional vs. private) and find examples of government failure in each case.  That should not be surprising. 

Conventional zoning rules are actually rights vs protections trade-offs.  These trade-offs are also available via developer sponsored (market vetted) association rules.  The possibility of government failure comes with any non-market preference aggregation procedure.  But in which case is it a bigger problem?

What I find most interesting is that both debaters consider reforms that might improve private governance.  They do not suggest ways to improve conventional government.  But why has there been the rise of associations that both document? 

Nelson makes the point the suburban cities were first formed to block the annexation of newly developed land by the old central city.  That role has gone to private associations in many states.   

McKenzie makes the point that most new private association resident-owners do not even bother to read the association's rules.  Nelson wants to administer a quiz whereby new owners must demonstrate that they have read the rules.  Both of the experts suggest other reforms -- of the private governance approach.