I am a historian of this, and I can double-dog triple-cat assure you that single-family zoning is racist
the concept of land uses being “incompatible” with each other is all rooted in the idea that some people are “incompatible” with other groups of people
zoning was designed to protect “high value” land uses (white, single family owner-occupied neighborhoods, high end commercial districts, etc) from “low value” ones (Black/POC neighborhoods, apartments and multifamily housing, industrial uses, commercial strips, etc)
many early zoning laws were explicitly racist, prohibiting Blacks, Asians or others from operating businesses or living in certain parts of specific cities

the Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional in 1917 in Buchanan v. Warley
Urban planners still valued zoning since it gave them a way to describe, rank, and control land use, and lenders/homeowners loved how zoning might keep property values high and neighborhoods stable
Post-Buchanan, zoning codes used the language of stability, value, order, and public health and safety to describe what could do where - but in the 1910s and 1920s (as well as now) those words were embedded with racial connotations
by 1926, when SCOTUS ruled comprehensive single-use zoning is constitutional in Euclid v Ambler, most cities had zoning codes that put detached single-family homes at the top of the residential hierarchy - nearly every other residential land use was less valuable and desirable
The “family” in single-family meant everyone living in the house had to be related by blood, marriage or adoption, except for domestic servants

Some cities later specified which relationships were allowed - spouses and children yes; cousins, grandparents, etc maybe not
There were usually also clauses in the zoning code prohibiting running home businesses from single family homes, having tenants, or using property in commercial ways.
Black/POC residents often ran businesses, took in lodgers, housed extended family and more in their residences, both to make money to offset higher housing costs due to racism because of more expansive ideas of family and community than middle class white homeowners had
So single-family zoning, starting in the 1920s with earlier roots, was a way to keep specific ways of living in houses and making households out of white residential neighborhoods

It’s another tool in the urban white supremacist toolbox
since this is getting attention, I wish I had an article to point you all to for more in-depth information

I have this thing, though: digitalrepository.unm.edu/hist_etds/14/

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh
 

Keep Current with B. Erin Cole

B. Erin Cole Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

PDF

Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!

:(