The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 145
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Blodgett and Main streets, Houston, c. 1935.
In 1938 the rhetoric used by zoning foes was relatively unsophisti-
cated and clearly delineated the prominent role played by real-estate
interests. Unlike later opponents, these adversaries did not create a line
by line critique of the ordinance, but instead questioned the right of
zoning to exist in American society. They asserted that zoning would
inhibit the real-estate business and subject real estate to politics. Claim-
ing that zoning was undemocratic, the Association further asserted that
if the power to zone was placed in a government board, a few men
would be able to create monopolies by allowing some businesses to
operate in restricted districts, while curtailing others. Giving the city
council and the Appeals Board the authority to create variances within
districts would result in special privileges and corruption.24
The arguments were not just limited to cries of corruption or
monopoly: opponents also charged that zoning would not provide
residential protection. Because zoning was not retroactive, existing
nonconforming uses would generally be allowed in zoned areas. In ad-
dition, opponents called zoning a strait jacket that would interfere with
flexible economic growth. For no matter how knowledgeable they
were, a few experts could not determine the proper uses of private
property, especially in the future. Opponents also claimed that zoning
24Houston Press, May 17, 1938 (quotations); unidentified clipping dated May 24, 1938,
from an unidentified scrapbook, City Planning Department, RG A-4 (HMRC).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/181/: accessed May 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.