Should Cities Regulate How You Design Your Home?


One state tried to remove local governments’ power to dictate things like paint colors.

By Alan Greenblatt | Governing

State legislators have become great micromanagers, preempting local authority not only on major issues such as minimum wage and environmental protection, but on seemingly every little thing down to the regulation of parking spaces. A case in point is Georgia.

A bill was considered in the legislature this year to take away authority from cities and counties when it comes to all manner of building design requirements, including exterior colors, roofs, porches, windows and doors, as well as foundations and the number and type of the rooms inside.

Local officials called it a giveaway to builders and real-estate agents who want to eliminate requirements that cut into their profit margins. “It’s certainly in their interest to want to build fast, build cheap and let local officials deal with the consequences of subdivisions that may not fit with a local community’s vision of itself,” says Todd Edwards, deputy legislative director for the county commissioners’ association in Georgia.


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