California Struggles To Fix Zoning That Promotes Racial Inequity And Climate Change
President trump is attacking Democrats in an area where he's trying to win votes the suburbs want to eliminate single family zoning. Bringing Hornos into your suburbs. Communities are grappling with how single family zoning can exacerbate racial inequity and climate change NPR's Lauren summer tells us how states like California are struggling to change housing laws for some climate activist. Susan Kirsch is one of their biggest obstacles which may seem strange because she cares about the environment. Yes. You're looking at my plug in Prius connected to my solar panels the plug in the energy back in February I went to Kirsch his home in. Mill. Valley California a city of mostly single family houses about half an hour north. Of San Francisco Median home price is around one point, five million. There is a great appreciation. If you just look at the view from here of bushes and trees and scenery curses house is exactly the kind in the middle of a huge housing debate she lives in a walkable neighborhood near a bus line grocery store and bank, but the zoning only allow single family homes here. So some California lawmakers have been trying to allow denser housing like duplexes or flexes knowing that any of the neighbors could do that same kind of. Thing, there's a sense of the kind of incredible impact of that kind of change in this community. So curse started organizing to defeat the up zoning bill in the state legislature, which I came up in two thousand eighteen that earned her the label Nimby not in my backyard. Actually I keep trying to change the label to be a bit of a badge of honor in terms of stewardship because for her environmentalism falls into the small is beautiful camp I think climate change is one of the real serious issues that we. Have to deal with. But I don't think we need to be forcing Conan measures, taking away local control and local preferences to be able to solve that problem in January. State lawmakers took on that debate senators. We are ready to begin for the third time in two years state Senator Scott Weiner trying to rally support for his housing bill. Restrictive zoning also leads to sprawl sprawl if you can't build where the jobs and the transit are you're just gonNA build further and further out and measure failed this summer California legislators are. Considering, new housing bills in another attempt, we simply cannot meet our near term and certainly our long-term clinicals unless we address land use question. Ethan. L. Kind is director of the climate program at UC Berkeley's law school. He says California's emissions from driving are still going up which shows a disconnect cities may consider themselves environmentally progressive but there's zoning bands, duplexes triplex and up to ninety eight percent of residential areas in some towns. Those people who have lived in that home are not just going to evaporate from. Earth they're just. Going to choose a different home and for all the electric miles you're putting on your Toyota Prius or whatever it is. You're now forcing those residents have to drive thirty, forty, fifty miles and a gas vehicle. But when California hasn't done, other places have last year Oregon passed a law to allow higher density housing and before that Minneapolis was the first major city tackle single family zoning a central reason racial inequity. The conditions that people are living with to play in communities of color those were locked in by a housing policy. And what it locked in usually is poverty and pollution Alvarado Sanchez with the Green Lining Institute, a racial and Economic Justice, Group in Oakland. California. He says, the history of racial discrimination has shaped the way cities look in the one, thousand, nine, hundred, some homes had racial covenants, which meant only white residents could own them in some cities. Single family zoning was adopted explicitly for racial segregation. These days Sanchez says the issue of race is still there, but it's not set out loud. You know I think that there's undertones of but. We don't want neighborhood to change and to me I'm left with a question mark. What's the kind of change? You don't want to come to your neighborhood what's the expectation that if you densify a certain kind of demographic is GonNa come to your neighborhood changing single family zoning alone won't solve inequity. He says, you need affordable housing policies to make sure it doesn't lead to gentrification and displacement that also means making sure neighborhoods are walkable with transit and greenspace things that are important for equity and the climate lauren summer NPR news.