This paper investigates the distribution of and motivations for zoning decisions that decreased allowed residential density or prevented denser residential development in urbanized portions of Durham, North Carolina, from 1945 through 2014. It presents quantitative evidence that prior to 1985, racial demographics offer a better explanation for the distribution of these potentially exclusionary decisions than median incomes or homeownership rates. This finding is substantiated by qualitative evidence from plans, records of public hearings, and other primary materials pertinent to zoning decisions affecting residential land use. The paper secondly presents evidence that since 1985, the city has made residential zoning decisions that have collectively entailed less dissimilar treatment of areas of different racial characteristics, and suggests reasons for this shift based on further research of primary materials. These findings inform us of the role of racial bias in zoning beyond the era of explicit racial zoning in the early 20th-century.
Economy and Planning A: Economy and Space
June 6, 2018