The Social and Economic Impacts of Exclusionary Zoning

A new book by Richard D. Kahlenberg, Excluded: How Snob Zoning, NIMBYism, and Class Bias Build the Walls We Don’t See, highlights the social and economic effects of exclusionary zoning.

Joan Mooney outlines the book’s main points in Smart Cities Dive, writing that “The book lays out the problem starkly: In most U.S. cities, zoning laws bar multifamily units on three-quarters of the land. Minimum lot sizes for single-family homes can drive up prices even further.”

Kahlenberg points out the racially restrictive housing covenants that kept many families of color out of certain neighborhoods prior to the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. After that law made such explicitly racist covenants illegal, “other restrictive housing covenants replaced them and later were codified by zoning laws. Those zoning laws mean that today, suburbs are more likely to be racially integrated but are still segregated by class.”

The book reminds readers that “Exclusionary zoning policies are not immutable,” and that many cities and states are eliminating or reforming single-family zoning. In the spirit of the Fair Housing Act, Kahlenberg suggests an “Economic Fair Housing Act” that would outlaw income discrimination in housing.

Read More

Leave a Comment