House Land and Resource Management Committee
On June 30, the House Land and Resource Management Committee met to consider the following charge:
Study current regulatory authority available to municipalities in their extraterritorial jurisdiction. Examine how citizens are involved in the zoning process, and make necessary recommendations to ensure a proper balance between development activities, municipal regulations, and the effect zoning decisions have on Texas citizens.
The committee has considered similar charges each session in recent memory. The brief hearing essentially consisted of a number of landowner, developer, and homebuilder complaints about the actions of a handful of cities. League staff and city officials testified that keeping land use decisions local is the best public policy.
Based on committee member comments, next session could see legislation filed that would:
- prohibit cities from enforcing building codes in their extraterritorial jurisdiction;
- allow individual property owners to opt-out of municipal zoning regulations on their property; and
- require a favorable election in an area prior to that area being annexed.
When considering the appropriate balance between property rights and municipal authority, lawmakers should consider that more than 86 percent of Texans now live in urban areas.
That’s more than 20 million people living and working in close quarters. It follows that cities (the level of government closest to the people) should retain their authority to enact thoughtful and reasonable land use and other regulations to protect property values and the health and safety of their residents.