Democratic lawmakers in Virginia want to override local zoning laws and abolish single-family housing, which they say is racist and bad for the environment.
According to the Daily Caller's Luke Rosiak, "The measure could quickly transform the suburban lifestyle enjoyed by millions, permitting duplexes to be built on suburban lots in neighborhoods previously consisting of quiet streets and open green spaces. Proponents of “upzoning” say the changes are necessary because suburbs are bastions of segregation and elitism, as well as bad for the environment."
The proposed changes were introduced on Dec. 19 by VA House Delegate Ibraheem Samirah (D) as part of six housing measures.
"Single-family housing zones would become two-zoned," Samirah told the Caller. "Areas that would be impacted most would be the suburbs that have not done their part in helping out."
"The real issues are the areas in between very dense areas which are single-family zoned. Those are the areas that the state is having significant trouble dealing with. They’re living in a bubble," he added.
He said suburbs were “mostly white and wealthy” and that their local officials — who have historically been in charge of zoning — were ignoring the desires of poor people, who did not have time to lobby them to increase suburban density.
In response to a question about whether people who bought homes in spacious suburbs have valid reasons, not based on discrimination, for preferring to live that way — including a love for nature and desire to preserve woods and streams — he said: “Caring about nature is very important, but the more dense a neighborhood is, the more energy efficient it is.”
He said if local officials seek to change requirements like setbacks to make it impossible to build dense housing in areas zoned to preserve a nature feel, “if they make setbacks to block duplexes, there’d have to be a lawsuit to resolve whether those zoning provisions were necessary.” -Daily Caller
"Because middle housing is what’s most affordable for low-income people and people of color, banning that housing in well-off neighborhoods chalks up to modern-day redlining, locking folks out of areas with better access to schools, jobs, transit, and other services and amenities," Samirah wrote on Facebook, adding "I will certainly get pushback for this. Some will call it ‘state overreach.’ Some will express anxiety about neighborhood change. Some may even say that the supply issue doesn’t exist. But the research is clear: zoning is a barrier to more housing and integrated communities."
Important Q about new social/public housing programs: where are we going to put the units?— Delegate Ibraheem Samirah (@IbraheemSamirah) December 22, 2019
Under current zoning, new low-income housing is relegated to underinvested neighborhoods, concentrating poverty more.
Ending exclusionary zoning has to be part of broader housing reform. https://t.co/XZZSM7nM8e
Fairfax County Republican Committee Chairman Tim Hannigan told the Caller that urban Democrats are waging war on the suburbs.
"This could completely change the character of suburban residential life, because of the urbanization that would develop," said Hannigan. "So much of the American dream is built upon this idea of finding a nice quiet place to raise your family, and that is under assault."
"This is a power-grab to take away the ability of local communities to establish their own zoning practices … literally trying to change the character of our communities."
Read the rest of the report here.