Segregationist Zoning 

Segregationist, whether intentional or not, describes local zoning/land use regulations in Eugene and the impact those regulations have had on Eugene’s supply of affordable and middle-market housing.

According to The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, local zoning was put in place “to prevent lower-income African Americans from living in neighborhoods where middle-class whites resided, local and federal officials began in the 1910s to promote zoning ordinances to reserve middle-class neighborhoods for single-family homes that lower-income families of all races could not afford.”

While Eugene politicians and leaders talk about creating a more diverse city, in practice the city’s local zoning policies and prohibitive SDCs (System Development Charges) have segregated the city’s supply of housing from minority and “working class” populations by reducing the supply of middle-market housing.

In contrast, Springfield has already begun to lay the groundwork for an increase in property investments to accommodate an increasingly diverse and dynamic population.

I hope that the compassionate citizens of Eugene will be honest with themselves about the segregationist roots of the city’s local zoning and SDC policies. While there is a vocal minority spreading fear about the impacts of HB 2001, I am confident that the majority of Eugene homeowners believe in progressive policies that encourage fairness, justice, and that will lead to greater diversity. I am confident that this diversity will lead to more real estate investment opportunities and housing wealth in Eugene, not less.

The citizens of Eugene have an opportunity here to challenge our nation’s segregationist land-use policies and catch up to the diversity found in Springfield and other cities with less restrictive zoning and SDC policies.

Luke Walsh 

Co-founder of Cabral & Walsh LLC