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.

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