MReport August 2020

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60 | M R EP O RT O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T THE LATEST GOVERNMENT Renewed Call for Changing Single-Family Zoning Laws A Virginia delegate is reiterating the potential benefits of higher-density housing. I braheem Samirah, a state delegate from Virginia, is not backing down from his fight against single-family zoning laws in his state. As the nation continues to grapple with the issue of racism since the police killing of George Floyd, Samirah is reiterating his stance on single-family zoning laws through the lens of racism. Samirah introduced a zoning reform bill that would allow for two-family housing on lots across the state of Virginia. He has suggested that allowing duplexes, townhomes, and accessory dwell- ing units would alleviate afford- ability barriers and lead to several other benefits as well. "Not only does density promote affordability by increasing the supply of housing units, but it's also better for the environment, combats the legacy of neighbor- hood segregation, facilitates better public transit, and makes a more connected local and regional econ- omy," he wrote on his website. His bill was struck down, but he continues to argue for a change in zoning restrictions. In an op-ed piece for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Samirah wrote that so-called "exclusionary zoning" is one way "communi- ties continued to bake segrega- tion based on race and income into their neighborhood designs" even after racial zoning became outlawed. Today, according to Samirah, "experts are beginning to over- whelmingly agree that decades of zoning for only single-family homes in our metro areas has led to an affordable housing shortage, coupled with segregation, sprawl- ing development, longer com- mutes, higher carbon emissions, and missed economic growth." Samirah spoke to MReport for its July issue, saying he believes many Americans would be in favor of more relaxed zoning laws that would allow for more dense housing. "We underestimate how many people truly want to embrace the benefits of density, whether it be living within walking distance of a job, having robust public spaces, having access to different cultural experiences, or relying less on cars through a solid public transit system," he said. Zoning has been an issue in many states over the past few years with a few states passing laws strike down single-family exclusive zoning. Oregon passed statewide zon- ing laws that allow for duplexes, townhomes, and more to be built in areas previously zoned strictly for single-family housing.

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