The False Narrative that Eugene Zoning is “Racially Exclusionary”

True or False?

  • Eugene’s current zoning code has housing criteria that exclude non-white households from single-family neighborhoods based on race or ethnicity.
  • Are there any “Middle Housing” code amendments that would eliminate, reduce or mitigate the exclusion of non-white households from single-family neighborhoods based on race or ethnicity.

When Eugene’s Planning Division staff were asked these questions directly, they declined to answer.

Poignantly, the city staff who have been pushing the “Racially Exclusionary Zoning” narrative could not produce a single example of a zoning criterion that was based on race or ethnicity.

The staff pushing this blatantly false rationale for zoning deregulation also could not identify a single potential code amendment that would have any impact on the the purportes exclusion of households base on race or ethnicity

The answers to the two questions above are inarguably “No” and “No,” despite the strong insinuation otherwise in the propaganda being posted and distributed by the proponents of eliminating single-family zoning and single-family neighborhoods. 

The fact is that racial bias exists in housing, but it is because of racial inequities in income and wealth. The result is inequitable housing opportunity between white and non-white households, but the zoning criteria are not the cause; and market-driven deregulation of zoning code isn’t a solution.

In fact, upzoning and leaving it entirely to private investors to decide what housing gets built, where, and at what cost is a sure-fire reciped for gentrification and displacement of lower-income households, particularly non-white households. See “Understanding Displacement” for a full explanation.

In the discussions and documents below, you can find deep and credible discussion of housing economics. David Imbroscio, a Professor at University of Louisville, has published authoritative examinations of housing and race, including both the history of explicit racial discrimination (e.g., “redlining”) and an analysis of contemporary bias in the financial underpinnings of home ownership.

  • Click here for a critical, evidence-based review of Richard Rothstein’s (2017) book, The Color or Law.
  • Click here for a compelling “take-down” of the “Anti-Exclusionary Zoning” (Anti-EZ) movement.
  • Click here for a strong argument that, from a social justice perspective, the attacks on “Exclusionary Zoning” are “imprudent.”
  • Click here for a rebuttal to critics of Imbroscio’s argument against the Anti-EZ movement