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robertogreco : denisty   1

The Problem with "Preserving" Single-Family Zoning in San Diego — SD YIMBY
"So, here is what we know: our government-created housing system, across the nation, was expressly racist for decades. Not only were different races segregated, the money could flow only to the white neighborhoods. As a result, certain areas gained nicer houses and better infrastructure and schools. The racist system is gone, but the effects remain. Our current single-family zones tend to be in these nicer areas. No one can question that a single family home generally costs more than an apartment or condo. In direct relation to that, single-family zoning takes up more land and crowds out more inhabitants. Thus, by maintaining our zoning, we are continuing the exclusion of minorities and citizens with low income from our nicest neighborhoods with the best schools and safest streets.

I am not suggesting that any supporter of single-family zoning or residents of single-family homes in general are racist or intend to exclude people; they are merely trying to preserve the wonderful neighborhoods that they already have and I don't blame them for this. But the effect of this preservation is exclusion. If we could increase the density in the nice, single-family zones, we could allow more people to enjoy the 80-year head start given to these neighborhoods. Although a current owner can be expected to fight to maintain the status quo, this position is less defensible when trying to consider the welfare of the city as a whole.

Of course, most would argue that changing the zoning would "ruin" the neighborhood. The thinking is that if our single-family neighborhoods are nice and our denser areas are less nice, this must be a result of the density. But as this history shows, although the correlation between density and "niceness" may be clear, causation is not. Go visit the Upper East Side in Manhattan and argue that density and wealth can't coexist. Given the history described above, it seems the more logical answer is that the nice areas are nice because the government poured resources into them and the less-nice areas suffered from the absence of funding and care. You can't blame a whole class or race for failing to maintain nice single-family houses when they were essentially prohibited by law from doing so. The density is only a byproduct. In fact, density done right can have many benefits. Even if La Jolla is not interested in high rises, allowing accessory-dwelling units, smaller lots, and duplexes could double the population easily without changing the entire culture of the neighborhood. We don't need to put skyscrapers on Mount Soledad, but we can relax some zoning standards.

This is why I have a problem with arguments that we must preserve single-family housing in our urban areas. Not because I am inherently against single family homes, but rather because I believe the most people possible should be able to enjoy these beautiful neighborhoods created by our unfortunate history. As Coates states in another piece, "Housing determines access to transportation, green spaces, decent schools, decent food, decent jobs, and decent services. Housing affects your chances of being robbed and shot as well as your chances of being stopped and frisked." Shouldn't we want our best neighborhoods to be available to as many people as possible? If we don't change our housing policy that has resulted in inequality for at least 80 years, why should we expect anything to change in the next 80 years? It seems more drastic measures are warranted. The best place to start is revisiting our zoning."
zoning  denisty  sandiego  history  2015  policy  redlining  urbanplanning 
december 2015 by robertogreco

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