Zoning promotes racism and sprawl

Zoning, as proposed for Buncombe [County on] April 10, is still exclusionary and racist and thus consistent with Asheville’s history of overtly racial zoning. The understanding that racism is inherent to zoning is demonstrated by the opposition of African-American communities and other communities of color in both unzoned Houston and Asheville.

The Houston opposition is documented by Bernard Siegan in Property and Freedom, page 181. In Asheville, online election records from 1999 show that the four most heavily African-American precincts opposed zoning by a weighted average of 55.94 percent, while the adjacent all-white, majority-Republican and hugely environmentally destructive suburb of Biltmore Forest supported zoning by 79.64 percent, and the three whitest Asheville precincts supported zoning by 66.34 percent. So zoning clearly remains a race issue. More on exclusionary racial zoning can also be found on Wikipedia. …

It is ironic that the best defense against racist zoning now lies with Leicester’s [proposed] incorporation. Despite lacking a reputation for racial sensitivity, Leicester was and is still more diverse than zoned Biltmore Forest, and far more welcoming to diversity—especially on an economic basis. Incorporation can and should soon demote zoned Asheville to an elitist and bland suburb of an unzoned, free and relatively diverse Leicester.

A further irony lies in the fact that overpopulation was cited as a knee-jerk motivator in the proposal for Beaverdam zoning, despite the fact that zoning aggravates overpopulation by causing larger housing units, which then have room for more children per family. This, in addition to causing absurd diversions from fertility issues that actually do cause overpopulation. So remember, the Buncombe proposal is not “Smart Growth”—it is conventional zoning, the opposite of “Smart Growth” and a major cause of racial injustice, sprawl and environmental destruction.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.