Presidential Politics Enters the Des Moines Rezoning Debate

Julián Castro, Democratic candidate for president and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, chose a side regarding the controversial rezoning proposal making its way through the Des Moines City Council.

2 minute read

August 15, 2019, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

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Kim Norvell reports: "Julián Castro, a Democratic candidate for president, said cities like Des Moines should provide more opportunities for affordable housing when updating their zoning and building codes."

Advocates have been expressing concern about the potential for proposed changes to the city's 54-year-old zoning code to make housing more expensive to build in the city throughout the summer, as local news outlets have tracked the zoning changes.

Recently, however, national urbanism media has picked up on the talking points of housing advocates: Streetsblog USA call the proposed changes a "possibly racist" example of downzoning. CityLab also uses the word downzoning to describe the reformed zoning code and definitely implies that the zoning changes are specifically designed to keep growth in the city at bay. Capps also presents the thinking of Des Moines planners in suggesting the changes: the city wants to be able to compete with suburbs.  

Into that now national context, Castro the presidential candidate emerges. "Castro, speaking Tuesday at an affordable housing town hall on the east side, said he was made aware of Des Moines' efforts earlier in the day. He met with city officials to discuss the plan," according to Norvell.

"Castro said he would reserve judgment until he reads it in its entirety. But, based on what he'd heard, Castro said he would encourage the city to be more flexible in its approach to allow for more affordable housing."

Tuesday, August 13, 2019 in Des Moines Register

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