Critics: NYC Zoning Promotes Segregation, Inequality
"If were going to be a sanctuary city—that has to include being a place where people can afford to live." So argues Sylvia Morse, a NYC housing advocate and co-editor of Zoned Out! alongside planning professor Tom Angotti. In an interview, the two draw harsh conclusions about the city's housing and zoning policy.
Their argument: modern forms of inequality have systemic roots and need to be dealt with as such. "Zoning is a systemic policy to protect neighborhoods that are predominantly white and homeowner neighborhoods—the whiteness is more important than home ownership, actually. [...] If policies are not explicitly anti-racist, then they are perpetuating racism."
Moore and Angotti argue that many of today's urbanist buzzwords like "underutilized" land, transit-oriented development, mixed-use, and even "density" can mask profit- or even race-related displacement. Lacking a comprehensive plan, NYC's zoning remains a hyper-local affair, perpetuating these problems.
Says Morse, "We see a lot of that happening now, where if people are living in poverty, and if those people are people of color, their neighborhoods are immediately labeled as needing a certain kind of investment. Rather than that investment in social programs, that investment comes in the form of subsidies for developers that are going to make a ton of private profit."