Someone just posted a video on Youtube using Houston, Texas as an argument in favor of zoning. The logic of the video is: Houston is horrible; Houston has no zoning; therefore every city should have conventional zoning.
This video and its logic are impressively wrong, for several reasons.
First, I’ve been to Houston and most of what I saw looks nothing like the video – there are plenty of blocks dominated by houses and the occasional condo.
Second, most of the photos in the video could have easily happened in a zoned city, because one block in a neighborhood could be residential and the next block could be commercial, so the commercial or industrial activities can be easily viewable from the residential areas (not that anything is wrong with that).
Third, most other automobile-dependent cities aren’t any prettier than Houston; a strip mall in Houston doesn’t look any worse than a strip mall in Atlanta.
Fourth, it completely overlooks the negative side effects of zoning as it is practiced in most of the United States (many of which have been addressed more than once on this site). Typically, residential zones are so enormous that most of their residents cannot walk to a store or office. Moreover, density limits everywhere limit the supply of modest housing, thus creating housing shortages and homelessness.
Finally, Houston’s negative characteristics are partially a result of government spending and regulation; as I have written elsewhere, that city has historically had a wide variety of anti-walkability policies, so it is far more regulated than the video suggests.