Monday, February 27, 2012

Map of the Week 2-27-2012:Map of Exclusionary Techniques

“Inspired by Pieter Bruegel’s Netherlandish Proverbs, this illustration depicts 101 weapons of exclusion and inclusion operating in an imaginary urban landscape.  Interboro Partners created this mural with illustrator Lesser Gonzalez for the forthcoming book The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion.”  From

“Recent books like Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City celebrate the capacity of cities to bring people together to hook up, swap ideas, and influence and inspire each-other, but it’s important to remember that our cities are pretty good at keeping people apart, too.  More than forty years have passed since the Fair Housing Act outlawed discrimination in the sale, rental, and marketing of homes, in mortgage lending, and in zoning, and still most Americans live in communities that are racially, economically, generationally, and even politically and religiously segregated.   How can we explain this? What produces segregation? Is racial segregation merely the legacy of policies and practices—like racial zoning or racial and religious covenants—that the Fair Housing Act illegalized?  Or are there newer, subtler things that continue to produce racially homogeneous communities?
This map—and the forthcoming book that it appears in—is meant to support that latter claim. Hidden in the map are forty commonly-used, contemporary “weapons” in what we call the “Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion,” a collection of policies and practices that are used by architects, planners, policy-makers, developers, real estate brokers, community activists, neighborhood associations, and individuals to wage the ongoing war between integration and segregation, between NIMBY (not in my back yard), and WIMBY (welcome in my back yard).”  From

One of the (few!) techniques missing from this comprehensive inventory of exclusionary methods is the idea that I have researched extensively of "expulsive zoning" a different take on exclusionary zoning.  Rather than restricting who can live in a place by setting expensive-to-adhere-to regulations about lot sizes, construction materials and costs, etc., this is in a way the reverse.  Expulsive zoning has two basic manifestations: in one, public planning policy, in collusion with private developers, take an area where poor and/or minority people live, and in the interests of gentrification, facilitate it becoming too expensive for the poor/minority people to live there anymore.  This is sometimes accomplished by reducing existing manufacturing or industrial zones so that new residential or commercial development then has the space to come into the neighborhood.  This increases the attractiveness of the place to the more wealthy outsiders, who come into the new developments, thereby resulting in increasing rents in the existing housing and commercial, and forcing out poorer residents and mom and pop stores, etc. who can no longer afford the rents which have been driven higher by the spill-over effect of the new development. 
The other manifestation of expulsive zoning is that by increasing manufacturing zones or intensifying the allowable industrial uses in them, poor people and minority populations will be forced out of the neighborhood by making the place virtually unlivable, due to increasing levels of pollution, noise, traffic congestion, and other quality-of-life issues.  Both of these techniques have been used by city planning agencies (and their developer henchmen) as weapons against the poor and communities of color in the name of “neighborhood improvements.”

Here are some of the methods of exclusion, as detailed by Interboro Partners, who are, by the way, located in Brooklyn, NYC. 

Racial Steering
“Racial steering refers to the illegal practice whereby real estate brokers guide prospective homebuyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race. Racial steering is not a thing of the past: in 2006, Corcoran, one of New York City's biggest real estate brokerage companies, made headlines when a sting operation by the National Fair Housing Alliance revealed that Corcoran brokers were drawing maps of Brooklyn that outlined neighborhoods that were ‘changing.’  The maps — whose source was a Census map showing percent change in numbers of African-Americans — were used to show white families where they should consider living.  The map was not shown to black families with similar financial qualifications.”

One-Way Street
“Greenmount Avenue between 33rd Street and Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore is a wall.  On the east side, 85% of residents are black, 16% have a Bachelor degree, and the median income is $40,000.  On the west side, 96% of residents are white, 75% have a Bachelor degree, and the median income is $75,000.  Such rapid shifts in demographics are common in Baltimore, but this stretch of Greenmount Avenue is interesting for the physical devices that one side deploys to maintain a disconnect from the other.  For example, of the eight streets that intersect Greenmount Avenue between 33rd Street and Cold Spring Lane, only one (39th Street) allows travel from east to west.  Six of the streets are one-way pointing east (i.e., out of the wealthy, white side), and one of the streets (34th Street) thwarts westward movement with bollards.”

Minimum Lot Size
“Minimum Lot Size regulations, typically found in municipal zoning codes, define the smallest lot size that a building can be built on.  Minimum Lot Size is in the Arsenal of Exclusion because suburban municipalities use them to exclude affordable housing, public housing, and the poor, for whom building on large lots is not possible.  An early exclusionary use of Minimum Lot Size regulations can be found in New Caanan, CT, which in 1932 zoned 4,000 undeveloped acres “two-acre residential.”

“Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are rules governing land use in private communities.  Typically drafted by a Homeowners' Association, or HOA, CC&Rs attempt to guard the property value of homes in the community by regulating everything from paint colors to landscape materials to lawn ornaments.  CC&Rs are in the Arsenal of Exclusion because they are often classist (CC&Rs have restricted aluminum siding, barbecue grills, lawn ornaments, basketball hoops, and even American flags).  In his book Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government, Evan McKenzie writes of a family in a private development outside Philadelphia that was forced to remove a swing set because it was made of metal and not, as the CC&Rs stipulated, wood.”

“While some cities in the southwest still annex territory, most of the American cities of the midwest and northeast have not expanded much further beyond their 1900s limits (New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis haven't added territory since the nineteenth century).  As Kenneth Jackson illustrates in Crabgrass Frontier, a combination of new laws that made incorporation easy and annexation unworkable, improved suburban services, a rising anti-urbanism that came to see the cities like New York as too big, foreign, and ungovernable, and an ensuing desire for home-rule effectively boxed big cities in.  Without tax-revenue sharing, small municipalities — who still relied on the big cities for working, shopping, transportation, and entertainment — depleted the cities' tax bases, and created the city / suburb divide that still plagues cities today.”

For the rest of the definitions and explanations of exclusionary techniques, see
For more thought-provoking urbanism projects by Interboro Partners, see 

1 comment:

  1. Charles Murray's new book "Coming Apart" deals with the creation of what he calls "Super Zips", areas around the U.S. that contain the 1% of the population we've heard so much about lately. The books' written content is very thought provoking but the maps leave much to be desired. Perhaps someone could redo them to be a little more "visually" thought provoking. He states that he used census data to create them and invites readers to check the data with the "American fact finder" tool on the census website.