The Regulatory Nature of Urban Ports: The Case of Houston
Elliott, James R.; Shelton, Kyle; King, Lester O.
Classic urban ecology argues that cities grow by connecting economically with other places. As they do, local zones of similar land use emerge, producing natural areas. While still valuable, this paradigm and recent efforts to rehabilitate one of its core concepts –succession – fails to adequately explain how certain urban zones, born relatively free of government regulation, come to be increasingly defined by it over time. The present study engages this lacuna and its relevance to urbanization generally. Using the case of Houston’s Ship Channel, it investigates how a locally important zone develops politically through successive regulation intended to contain risks associated with its own development. In this way we extend insights of urban ecology to consider how government not only leverages infrastructure that gives rise to certain urban zones but also comes to wrap them in regulation that promotes and insulates their continued development, at significant risk to local residents.