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Should Cincinnati Have Less Single-Family Zoning? Some Advocates Think So

Courtesy of Nick Swartsell
People participate in a neighborhood planning exercise in Over-the-Rhine.

While it sounds arcane, zoning code is something akin to a city's DNA. The rules about what can be built and where someone can build it determine how a city looks and feels, and sometimes, who can live in its various neighborhoods.

The history of modern zoning practices has its roots in the early parts of the last century, when municipalities across the country used them to attempt to preserve segregation in the face of U.S. Supreme Court rulings striking down more overtly discriminatory laws. 

Today, zoning has useful purposes — like making sure no one can build a toxic waste dump next to your house. But some advocates have called for reconsidering some cities' reliance on zoning rules that forbid anything other than single family housing in many neighborhoods. Minneapolis recently relaxed many of its rules around single-family only zoning, and now, advocates like those running an Instagram account called Legalize Housing want Cincinnati to do the same.

Joining Cincinnati Edition to talk zoning are Richard Rothstein, best-selling author of the nonfiction book The Color of Law; Legalize Housing founders Mark Samaan and Nick Keeling; City of Cincinnati Planning DirectorKatherine Keough-Jurs; and Cincinnati City Council Member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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Michael Monks brings a broad range of experience to WVXU-FM as the host of Cincinnati Edition, Cincinnati Public Radio's weekday news and information talk show.