A group of McGuireWoods real estate and zoning lawyers, land use planners and
government relations consultants released part one of a new
paper documenting the history of zoning and segregation in Virginia and the
legacy of systemic racism preserved by zoning.
According to the paper’s executive summary, many Virginia neighborhoods “are
more racially segregated today than they were 50 years ago.” Elected officials
and lawmakers used zoning through most of the 20th century as a governmental
tool to segregate African Americans. “Zoning continues to reinforce patterns of
segregation today despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibiting racial
discrimination in housing,” the authors noted. Housing segregation, in turn,
affects education, job opportunities, family income, health and access to a
The McGuireWoods team — led by Tysons real estate and land use partner
Jonathan Rak and McGuireWoods Consulting senior advisor James Dyke — also
offered a call to action: Revise Virginia zoning and planning laws to increase
housing opportunities for all people throughout the state’s localities.
Appropriate reform, the team said, can occur without diminishing local
governments’ power to plan and zone.
For details, read “Zoning
and Segregation in Virginia: Part 1 – Why Virginia Needs a Study of Zoning Laws
and Their Connection to Segregation.”