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Zoning is a necessary planning tool and has traditionally been used to allocate land uses. Though non-residential zoning serves an important purpose, residential zoning such as single family and multi-family only zoning has historically been wielded to discriminate on the basis of race and class. Research has shown that single-family only zoning has been used to hoard resources and restrict people of color and low-income folks by banning multi-family and affordable housing in the garb of retaining “neighborhood quality.” This creates uneven distribution of resources and promotes racial and income segregation within a region. Residential zoning, especially, single-family (only) zoning has long been the focus of researchers and policymakers. The harms of single-family only zoning have been well documented, and many jurisdictions have been trying to ban single-family zoning with some successful examples across the nation such as Minneapolis, MN and Charlottesville, VA.  

Comprehensive zoning reform requires good data collection on zoning restrictions and related building standards. Sara Bronin@Cornell has been an important contributor to zoning reform, and has initiated a nationwide project to collect and map zoning data and related building standards for all states in the nation. Many states are participating, and researchers are collecting and sharing data with the National Zoning Atlas, an entity which provides a template for data collection with state leaders, and displays zoning data on a national map

In California, OBI is leading the data collection for the California Zoning Atlas in collaboration with UC Davis’ Center for Regional Change. With a team of researchers, students, and volunteers, we have been collecting zoning data for the state, some of which is displayed on the National Zoning Atlas. We continue to collect this data for all ~500 municipalities and 58 counties in the state, which is a massive undertaking. We are committed to leading the statewide data collection and hope to complete data collection with the help of collaborators, researchers, students and volunteers.