Current zoning restrictions hearken back to an America that long longer exists. It’s time to update codes and stop perpetuating housing segregation and inequality.
Sara C. Bronin argues that outdated elements of zoning codes limit the kind of housing that communities across the country truly need. She points out that the way zoning laws define family—as people related through blood, marriage, or adoption ties—is one of the biggest problems:
The definition of family matters because zoning codes typically have a "one family per housing unit" policy. These policies are most strictly enforced in the neighborhoods with single-unit detached homes — 64 percent of neighborhoods, according to the 2013 American Housing Survey. It’s in these communities where housing affordability tends to be low, and racial segregation high.
As a result, zoning codes prohibit groups of people who want to cohabitate for any of a multitude of social or financial reasons, says Bronin. "In other words, the communal living arrangement in 'The Golden Girls' would be a zoning violation. (Dorothy and Sophia were related, but Blanche and Rose were not.)"
While progress has been made in some cities and states to recognize "functional families," much more change needs to happen, says Bronin. She urges presidential candidates to more directly address the issue and propose solutions in their housing plans.
"Championing this issue would promote progressive ideals. And it could unite both sides of the political aisle. Conservatives may come to realize that limited definitions of family erode property rights and freedom of association in the home," adds Bronin.
Boston Transit Riders Report Safety Concerns
Almost three-quarters of current and former riders report feeling unsafe while using MBTA services.
The Unceremonious Death of a Freeway Expansion Project
The end of an Oregon freeway project didn't get much fanfare, but the victory is worth celebrating.
Houston Lot Size Reforms Yield Positive Results
New research shows that reducing lot size requirements helped create thousands of new homes.
Architecture and the Housing Crisis
A new book brings architects into the housing discussion.
New Los Angeles Rent Relief Program Targets Pandemic Debt
The program prioritizes the lowest-income tenants who accrued debt during the early part of the pandemic.
‘Agrihood:’ An Urban Farm With Affordable Housing
California’s largest urban farm also provides 165 units of affordable housing for seniors and veterans.
Knoxville-Knox County Planning
City of Stonecrest
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Mpact: Mobility, Community, Possibility
National Capital Planning Commission
City of Culver City
Salt Lake City Corporation
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.