Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Zoning Laws (Part 2) Segregation by Class

Read entire series here.

One of my blogging friends recently wrote that he lived in a well-to-do community and that the churches in communities like his needed to be creative in carrying out God's commands to help the poor. Wealthy communities have very few or no visible poor at all. Another blogging friend wrote that he grew up in a very poor community and that the poverty he experienced gave him some reservations about capitalism as an economic system.

One thing these two had in common, and this is true in news stories of every nature, is that entire communities have a class status. They are wealthy, or poor, or lower-middle class, or the 'hood, or upper-middle class or blue collar, etc. We live in communities with a fairly consistent level of wealth of those who live there. We simply accept this as part of the landscape of life and never give it a second thought, or even a first one.

Starting with residential housing, zoning laws establish minimum lot sizes on which a house can be built. The simple law of supply and demand establishes "market value" for that community. Because there is a minimum lot size, and a corresponding market value for that size lot, zoning laws effectively establish the minimum level of wealth required to live in that community. Communities that are more desirable to live in have higher wealth thresholds. This effectively eliminates the ability of the poor to live in those communities.

In part 1, I mentioned that I've never been able to live in a community where I worked. If I were allowed to buy smaller lots, even to build a smaller house, than what zoning laws currently allow, I could live close to work. But I'm not allowed to do that, so I can't live in the community where I work.

Part 1
. . . . . . . . Part 3


  1. Real estate and school taxes are another way of pricing the riff raff out of the community.

  2. I was thinking about this today also - how cities seem to be a united whole - all the while they are scattered with divisions - so much so - the idea of communities working together isn't a real thing anymore. I think the society has become overly individualistic.