the labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joyned it to something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property.
In fact, zoning functions more like a "property rule" [a rule protecting an entitlement by injunctive relief], allowing neighborhood residents (or their governmental representatives) to enjoin a proposed development that does not conform to current zoning, while leaving room for the would-be developer to "buy" the entitlement to build through design concessions, campaign contributions, and the like.
Extensive academic literature critical of zoning has accumulated in the last twenty years, beginning with Bernard Siegan's landmark 1970 study lauding Houston's non-zoning approach, and followed shortly thereafter by Robert Ellickson's broader theoretical critique of zoning. Subsequent academic literature has been almost as uniformly critical of zoning as public policy has been uniformly in favor of it. Although few academic defenders of zoning have stepped forward, governmental decision-makers have proceeded with zoning apace, apparently untroubled by the academic onslaught.