Suburban, self-proclaimed climate advocates agree with Trump on single-family zoning

Facade of an apartment building

O Palsson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Self-proclaimed environmentalists in California have found common cause with President Trump over their opposition to eliminating single-family zoning, NPR reports.

The resistance of wealthy residents living outside, but near, desirable cities to allowing duplexes and quadplexes causes sprawl and forces less-wealthy and working-class residents to drive even further, according to Ethan Elkind, director of the UC Berkeley law school’s climate program. “Knowing that any of the neighbors could [build denser housing], there’s a sense of the kind of incredible impact of that kind of change in this community,” Susan Kirsch, who lives about half an hour north of San Francisco, and drives a plug-in Prius powered by solar panels, told NPR. Single-family zoning has roots in racial covenants and in some cities was adopted explicitly for racial segregation.

“I think that there’s undertones of, ‘Well, we don’t want our neighborhood to change.’ And to me, I’m left with a question mark,” Alvaro Sanchez of the Greenlining Institute told NPR. “What’s the expectation that, if you densify a certain kind of demographic, is going to come to your neighborhood?”

“I think climate change is one of the real serious issues that we have to deal with,” Kirsch told NPR. “But I don’t think we need to be forcing draconian measures, taking away local control and local preferences to be able to solve that problem.”

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