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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Use Value, Exchange Value, and the Need for Public Land-Use Planning


Why should the government be in the business of influencing how our society uses urban and rural land? The answer to this question is important to professional city and regional planners wishing to justify their programs, and to land-use theorists seeking to understand the forces behind land-use patterns.

The allocation of land can be conducted by either public planning or by the private market. Both methods have their drawbacks and advantages. While it is necessary to understand both systems, as they work alone and together, this essay will focus on the market approach. Many would like to see the market used as the primary system for allocating land. In response to this position, this essay will present a critique of the land market and a justification for land-use planning by examining the nature of land as a commodity in market economies.

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