The Law: No for No-Growth

When a severe water shortage started in Marin County outside San Francisco four years ago, more and more families began to consider moving deeper into the exurbs. Many of them chose Petaluma, a pleasant town of 30,000 just up High way 101.

People already living in Petaluma were frightened rather than flattered. Applications for housing-construction permits doubled, then doubled again until they reached 2,000 a year. The smalltown character of the onetime egg capital of California was clearly in jeopardy, as were the low local property taxes. Rapid population growth would require a sharp...

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