How To Beat US Urban Zoning – Tell ‘Em It’s All Racist

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It’s always difficult to know what comes higher up the totem pole of oppression. Especially these days when it appears that groups or conditions are actually invented in order to top said poll. Which beats which? Gender? Sexuality? Race? Given all the intersectionality going on who the heck can know?

Fortunately, sometimes we do get at least a bit of a guide. The basic problem we’ve got in the expensive cities is that housing problem – housing is expensive, as we’d expect in an expensive city. But the question is, well, why the expense? The answer being that no one’s ever allowed to build anything. That in turn stems from the zoning laws. If you want more housing but don’t appear to have the land then you either build smaller or you build up. Exactly what zoning doesn’t allow with its minimum size lots and maximum heights.

So, how do we beat this? Minneapolis is showing us how:

Minneapolis will become the first major U.S. city to end single-family home zoning, a policy that has done as much as any to entrench segregation, high housing costs, and sprawl as the American urban paradigm over the past century. On Friday, the City Council passed Minneapolis 2040, a comprehensive plan to permit three-family homes in the city’s residential neighborhoods, abolish parking minimums for all new construction, and allow high-density buildings along transit corridors. “Large swaths of our city are exclusively zoned for single-family homes, so unless you have the ability to build a very large home on a very large lot, you can’t live in the neighborhood,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told me this week. Single-family home zoning was devised as a legal way to keep black Americans and other minorities from moving into certain neighborhoods, and it still functions as an effective barrier today.

Now interesting. Being anti-racist beats being anti-development. We need more of this, more clarification of the exact hierarchy, so that we know which card to play to beat off which stupidity on offer.

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Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

..Being anti-racist beats being anti-development. We need more of this, more clarification of the exact hierarchy, … Er…no, it doesn’t. You do not understand activist politics, or, indeed, politics at all. In politics, you have to maintain your supporters. That means giving them what they want. If they are rich developers, you give them less regulation and more land to build on. Now the problem is that, for every political action you take, there is another group opposing it.You will have done your sums, and decided that the benefits from bribing the developers are greater than the detriment you will… Read more »

timworstall
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timworstall

“That doesn’t mean that Development is better than racism, or, indeed, that anyone is being racist at all. It just means that it’s a convenient excuse.

See how it’s done?”

Yes, that’s my point. Which argument wins?

TD
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TD

“Single-family home zoning was devised as a legal way to keep black Americans and other minorities from moving into certain neighborhoods, and it still functions as an effective barrier today.” You have to smile at this. As construction of single family housing has been curtailed in many areas it hasn’t stopped it from being desirable, so prices have increased, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of dollars in some areas, enriching the disproportionately white owners. Meanwhile, the planning community emphasizes deed restricted high density affordable housing for younger people (disproportionately minority) that are mostly rentals so their residences will never garner… Read more »