The relation between health and indoor life has long been recognized. Laws and ordinances covering the size and ventilation of sleeping rooms, drainage, dark hallways, cellars, windows, refuse disposal, and many other items are common. Detailed building and plumbing codes, housing laws, tenement-house laws, and the like are in force in most cities. It is well recognized by the courts that insanitary indoor conditions are prejudicial to the health of the people. It is coming to be recognized that, in important ways, indoor conditions are dependent on and controlled by outdoor environment. The light that enters a room through a window depends on the light that falls on the outer wall of the building, and this is affected by the position, height, and bulk of neighboring buildings. The quantity of air that enters a building is influenced, sometimes very greatly, by neighboring buildings, and the quality of the air is affected by what is going on in the neighborhood. In fact, nearly all the physiological and sensatory factors related to health may be used to illustrate the close connection between indoors and outdoors.
Placing restrictions on the height and bulk of buildings is virtually public control of the space outside the buildings. It prevents private owners from monopolizing light and air to which all people should have a common right. In some respects time-honored conceptions in regard to property rights are faulty. It is assumed that lots of land privately owned are bounded by vertical planes which extend upward and downward without limit, unmindful of the fact that, in this latitude at least, the sun's rays fall slantingly on the earth and the winds blow horizontally. Building without limit on one's land, therefore, may interfere with a neighbor's use of his land and the enjoyment of certain bounties of nature, thereby doing injury to his health and comfort. From this point of view restrictions on height and bulk appear to be justifiable.
Conversely, the indoor use of property may affect outdoor conditions. Buildings of great height and bulk lead to such indoor massings of people that not only are the means of ingress and egress provided with difficulty, but means of conveyance and the streets themselves become so congested that safety, health, and morals are jeopardized. Congestion may extend even to the substructures of the streets - the water mains, sewers, gas pipes, and electric-light and telephone wires. Municipal governments, responsible for the streets and their use, cannot adequately perform their duties in the face of excessive developments of private property abutting on the streets. The indoor use of property, whether for residential, business, or industrial purposes, controls the character of the vehicular traffic and the character of the pavements required for it; it affects the cleanliness of the streets, as well as dust, odors, sights, and noises. The abutters and the public have common interests in the streets and public lands, which can be protected only by placing restrictions on the use of private property.