Frank Hollenbeck examines one way that the Europeans lock up private property with government regulation: land use controls.
Today, most zoning plans are for 15 years, and generally become inadequate almost immediately. In the early 1980s, a revision to a plan took two or three years. Now, the minimum is three years. However, if environmentalist groups get involved, changes can take well over a decade. Many small cities have been struggling seven years in judicial battles to add a measly 50 acres of new developable land into a plan. For example, it took six years for the 20-cities metro area of Nantes (ranking #10 in France) to elaborate their latest plan. Currently, there are 40,000 acres of agricultural land outside Nantes, but only 750 acres are planned for new buildings for the next 15 years. This is a pittance for the nearly 1 million inhabitants of this growing region.