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 quality life.
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.