Is Zoning Racist? Equity and Zoning

What You'll Learn

  • Understand key underlying historic race biases of zoning codes.
  • Assess the historical and contemporary impact of zoning on equity.
  • Formulate strategies to make zoning better at promoting equity.

More Course Details

Looking at how zoning began, evolved, and has been implemented in cities across the country, this course examines how zoning was influenced by explicit racist ideas and, in turn, perpetuates some of those ideas. Often it's implicit, particularly when the racist origins may be unknown to practitioners. In today's climate of racial tension and debate about equity, it is imperative to understand the role of zoning and what must change to advance racial equity.

This course looks at the origins of the first comprehensive zoning law in New York City; how zoning shaped the black-and-white divide in the growth of Kansas City, Missouri; the influence of zoning law on affordable housing in New Jersey and Connecticut; how zoning initially shaped communities such as Chinatown and Bayview in San Francisco; how zoning solidified that segregation; and what San Francisco is doing today to advance racial and social equity.

With perspectives from scholars, practitioners, and civil servants, probe the values embedded in zoning codes, and examine how zoning can be used or changed to promote equity.