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Industrial Zoning Changes in New York City: A Case Study of "Expulsive" Zoning



Using New York City as a case study, this paper examines how zoning and the legal mechanism of zoning changes can con-tribute toward environmental injustice, and offers recommenda-tions for achieving justice through planning. Noxious uses tend to concentrate in poor and minority industrial neighborhoods due to re-zoning more affluent and less minority industrial areas to other uses, and expanding industrial zones in poorer neigh-borhoods and communities of color. This set of practices has been termed "expulsive" zoning, and is characterized by dis-placement of poor and minority people (and industry) from gen-trifying industrial zones, the intrusion of additional noxious land uses into predominantly poor and minority industrial areas, and the concomitant reduction of environmental quality there. Zoning policy, it will be argued, can have adverse impacts on public health and equity, by disproportionately burdening poorer and more minority populations with noxious or environmentally risky land uses.
Using New York City as a case study, this paper examines how
zoning and the legal mechanism of zoning changes can con-
tribute toward environmental injustice, and offers recommenda-
tions for achieving justice through planning. Noxious uses tend
to concentrate in poor and minority industrial neighborhoods
due to re-zoning more affluent and less minority industrial areas
to other uses, and expanding industrial zones in poorer neigh-
borhoods and communities of color. This set of practices has
been termed "expulsive" zoning, and is characterized by dis-
placement of poor and minority people (and industry) from gen-
trifying industrial zones, the intrusion of additional noxious land
uses into predominantly poor and minority industrial areas, and
the concomitant reduction of environmental quality there.
Zoning policy, it will be argued, can have adverse impacts on
public health and equity, by disproportionately burdening poorer
and more minority populations with noxious or environmentally
risky land uses.
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City University of New York, Lehman College, Department of Geology + Geography
That land use regulations directly influence environmental justice out-
comes is an idea that is not considered sufficiently in environmental jus-
tice or planning research (Arnold, 1998; Rabin, 1989). The major focus of
environmental justice research to date has been the uneven spatial dis-
tribution of noxious uses, or specific LULUs (locally undesirable land
uses), and their potential adverse effects on proximate populations (Been
& Gupta, 1996; Boer, Pastor, Sadd, & Synder, 1997; Bowen, Salling, Haynes, & Cyran, 1995;
Burke, 1993; Centner, Kriesle, & Keeler, 1996; Glickman & Hersh, 1995; Greenberg, 1993;
Maantay, 2002a; Maantay, Timander, Graziosi, & Meyer, 1997; Mohai & Bryant, 1992;
Neumann, Forman, & Rothlein, 1998; Perlin, Setzer, Creason, & Sexton, 1995; Pollock &
Vittas, 1995; Stretesky & Lynch, 1999; Wernette & Nieves, 1992).
Environmental justice has been defined as "the provision of adequate
protection from environmental toxicants for all people, regardless of age,
ethnicity, gender, health status, social class, or race" (Nordenstam, 1995, p.
), and the proximity of noxious land uses to populated areas is believed
to jeopardize environmental health and justice. Although many
researchers have focused on the disproportionate environmental bur-
dens borne by the poor and communities of color, others have expanded
the definition of environmental justice to include other vulnerable
populations, such as the very young, the elderly, the infirm and immune-
compromised, pregnant women, immigrants, and future generations
(Greenberg, 1993). The definitions of environmental justice can also include
the words "equity" and/or "equality" (
Bryant, 1995). These words are often
used interchangeably, but have generally come to denote quite different
aspects of justice. Equity and equality often are equated with "process"
and "outcome" types of justice, respectively. Equity is said to pertain to
fairness in administrative and regulatory procedures, and equal opportu-
nity to participate in decision-making process, while equality connotes
evenness of results (or the real potential for equality of results) (Renn,
Webler, & Wiedmann, 1995; Glickman & Hersh, 1995
). In this paper, I use the word
equity in its broadest sense, to encompass both procedural equity and
outcome equality, meaning not only "fairness," but also the potential for
actually achieving equality of outcomes.
Much of environmental justice research deals with the presence of nox-
ious uses within communities, and the resulting disproportionate burden
on such communities, which are generally poor neighborhoods and/or
communities of color (
Bryant, 1995; Bullard, 1994; Camacho, 1998; Goldman, 1993;
Johnston, 1994; United Church of Christ's Commission for Racial Justice, 1987
). The
underlying zoning designations and subsequent zoning changes are
rarely factored into the analysis. While zoning tends to act as the "gate-
keeper" in terms of where noxious uses can be legally sited within a
municipality (
Maantay, 2000), the ramifications of zoning for environmental
health and equity have been somewhat hidden. Zoning is often over-
looked as a root enabling cause of disproportionate environmental
Projections 3
Vittas, 1995; Stretesky & Lynch, 1999; Wernette & Nieves, 1992).
burdens. Based on criteria of "appropriateness,"
zoning seemingly
reflects the natural order of things.
This study makes use of Geographic Information Systems
(GIS) to ana-
lyze the distribution of the areas zoned for industrial uses in New York
City (the Manufacturing, or "M," zones), in relation to the demographic
and socio-economic characteristics of their proximate populations. The
zoning changes that altered the geographical extent or land use inten-
siveness of M zones throughout the City were catalogued and codified so
that they could be mapped and analyzed in light of the characteristics of
affected populations and how those populations changed over four
decades of time. The case study will first be placed in the broader con-
text of zoning's purposes, and of the discriminatory subtext of many zon-
ing ordinances, as captured by both exclusionary and expulsive zoning
plans. After a brief description of New York City's industrial zones and
zoning, I will discuss the objectives, methodology, and findings of the New
York City industrial zone case study, including a detailed examination of
the changes within two industrial districts. The New York City planning
response to environmental justice concerns is described and evaluated,
and other possible planning mechanisms intended to correct and prevent
environmental injustice are outlined.
The Racial Aspects of Zoning
The ostensible purpose of zoning is the protection of the public's health,
safety, welfare, and morals. (Babcock, 1966; Bassett, 1936; Bressi, 1993; Freund,
1904; Haar & Wolf, 1989; Platt, 1991; Toll, 1969
). One of the means of achieving
this goal through zoning has been the segregation of land uses, in par-
ticular, the separation of residential from industrial. Segregating land
uses that are deemed incompatible is an accepted function of zoning.
Many zoning ordinances have also resulted in the segregation of "incom-
patible" people. Zoning's origins as a means to exclude "undesirable"
racial groups are well known, and include the prohibition of laundries
from residentially zoned areas in San Francisco intended to keep Chinese
people out of white neighborhoods (Toll, 1969, p. 29). New York City's first
zoning ordinance was designed to keep immigrant factory workers away
from elite commercial and residential areas by "protecting" those areas
(through zoning) from manufacturing uses (
Willis, 1993; Makielski, 1966).
Racial segregation through the use of zoning policy has also occurred in
cities such as Richmond, Norfolk, Roanoke, and Portsmouth, Virginia;
Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia;
Louisville, Kentucky; St. Louis, Missouri; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;
Indianapolis, Indiana; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Dallas, Texas (Rabin,
1989, p. 106
In many municipalities, residential racial segregation occurred as an indi-
rect result of the segregation of land uses types, use intensities, and
housing densities, and as a result of the assumptions that were made
about what were appropriate uses to commingle. For instance, using poor
or minority neighborhoods as buffer zones between industrial uses and
single-family home white neighborhoods was common practice in many
cities' zoning plans (Rabin, 1989). This was based on the planning principle
that multi-family dwellings were more appropriate to site near industry
than were single-family homes. Poor and minority people often had little
choice (economically and due to other forms of discrimination) but to live
in multi-family dwelling units and therefore closer to industrial zones.
Additionally, in some cities, industrial areas themselves were used as
buffers to separate white and black neighborhoods.
In other places, zoned racial segregation occurred overtly, by design.
Early zoning plans, especially in southern U.S. cities, often included
zones for "White" neighborhoods and "Negro" districts (Silver, 1997, p. 28).
Within these zones, property owners were often prohibited from selling
their property to a person of another race, but in practice this mainly pre-
vented blacks from owning property in a "White" neighborhood, and did
not prevent whites from owning houses (as absentee landlords) in a
"Negro" neighborhood (Silver, 1997).
Baltimore enacted the first comprehensive racial zoning ordinance in the
U.S. in 1910, designating residential zones that were majority white,
majority black, and mixed. The city's mayor at the time said that "blacks
should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incidence
of civil disturbance, to prevent the spread of communicable disease into
the nearby White neighborhoods, and to protect property values among
the White majority" (
Power, 1983, p. 301). These seemed like reasonable
goals to many in local governments (and a reasonable use of zoning), and
other cities followed suit.
Although racial zoning per se was struck down by a 1917 U.S. Supreme
Court decision finding Louisville, Kentucky's racial zoning regulations
invalid, this did not stop other municipalities from enacting racial zoning,
including Miami, Florida, and Birmingham, Alabama, where it remained in
effect until 1951. The State of Texas racial district law remained on the
books until 1969, and a Dade City, Florida, ordinance that prohibited
racial intermingling remained in effect until 1975 (Dubin, 1993).
Additionally, other cities found ways to ensure residential segregation by
race, without resorting to the blatant imposition of "White" and "Negro"
designated zones. Restricting the location of black people to certain dis-
tricts was surprisingly easy to accomplish, even without racial zoning. The
incorporation of historic landmark districts into zoning ordinances was
done in Charleston, South Carolina, and New Orleans, Louisiana, in the
1920s and 30s, and these were designed to (among other things) stop
the growth of black neighborhoods from encroaching on white neighbor-
hoods, or to expel blacks from a given neighborhood. "The testimony of
local preservationists indicates that displacement of Blacks from the
Projections 3
Historic area was one of the implicit goals of the plan and a desired out-
come of neighborhood revitalization" (Silver, 1997, p. 35). Racially restrictive
covenants and deeds were widely used by white homeowners, and con-
tinued to be enforced in many areas until the 1960s (Abrams, 1971; Massey
& Denton, 1993; Vose, 1959
After World War II, planning policies in many U.S. cities were dictated by
urban renewal schemes, often involving slum clearance, public housing
construction, and street and highway projects. As has been amply report-
ed elsewhere, these projects had a deleterious impact on lower-income
and minority communities, forcing relocation, overcrowding, and often
worse housing conditions and higher levels of segregation onto the
displaced populations, in addition to (in many cases) the destruction of
community life and social networks (Anderson, 1964; Caro, 1971; Jacobs, 1961;
O'Connor, 1993; Schwartz, 1993
). These urban renewal projects were usually
preceded by zoning changes to facilitate the project, which also had the
effect of increasing racial segregation and the concentration of poor and
minority people in or near industrial zones (Maantay, 2000).
Other land use planning mechanisms, such as exclusionary zoning, rein-
forced the pattern of racial segregation, and the concomitant environ-
mental burdens were disproportionately borne by minorities and poor
people. The history and effects of exclusionary zoning are well
documented: by requiring minimum lot sizes, housing types, house sizes,
minimum square foot construction costs, or costly construction materi-
als, many zoning ordinances have managed to keep lower-income and
minority people out of certain communities, and have successfully main-
tained community homogeneity (
Haar & Wolf, 1989; Branfman, Cohen, & Trubek,
1974; Elias, 1974; Lauber, 1974; Levy, 1974; National Committee Against Discrimination in
Housing, 1974; Williams & Norman, 1974
). Although exclusionary zoning ordi-
nances have been successfully challenged in the courts as discriminato-
ry (most notably in the Mount Laurel case), they have for many years
effectively limited the choices of where poor and minority people can live,
often relegating them to the least desirable locations (Southern Burlington
County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel
67 N.J. 151, 336 A2d 713 (1975)).
Expulsive Zoning
In addition to zoning's historic role as an exclusionary device, zoning also
can contribute directly to the undesirable nature of the very places where
poor and minority people are often restricted (by zoning) to living. Zoning
or re-zoning an area to permit heavier (potentially more polluting) or more
concentrated industrial uses can adversely impact the people who live
there, creating a different and perhaps more pernicious type of inequity
than exclusionary zoning alone.
This type of zoning has been called "expulsive" zoning, because it tends
to "permit - even promote - the intrusion into black neighborhoods of dis-
ruptive incompatible uses that have diminished the quality and under-
mined the stability of those neighborhoods" (Rabin, 1989, p. 101).
Although zoning was first advocated in this country by social reformers as
a well-meaning and rational method to improve poor living conditions, it
was rapidly transformed by real estate and commercial interests and indi-
vidual property owners as a way of protecting property values and exclud-
ing undesirables (Makielski, 1966; Toll, 1969). Expulsive zoning is yet another
example of how zoning can be appropriated to serve private interests
rather than the public good, negating zoning's promise of "protecting res-
idential communities from the negative by-products of industrialization
and commercial development" (Dubin, 1993, p. 798). In other words, zoning's
promise of equal protection from noxious land uses has often proven a
lie for poor people and communities of color.
Yale Rabin, in his "Expulsive Zoning: The Inequitable Legacy of Euclid,"
examines the zoning plans of 12 U.S. cities, and finds that
[t]he adverse impacts evident in these 12 cases of expulsive zoning
vary widely. They include environmentally blighting nuisances, dis-
placement, and life-threatening hazards… The blighting and disrup-
tive effects of expulsive zoning grow, rather than diminish, with the
passage of time… Expulsive zoning is not merely an historical
remnant of a racially unenlightened past, but a current practice that
continues to threaten, degrade, and destabilize black and other
minority neighborhoods (
Rabin, 1989, p. 118).
Rabin's study found that expulsive zoning generally takes one of two
forms: by higher-grade zoning, it serves to gentrify an area so that the
poorer inhabitants are priced out, or by lower-grade zoning, it imposes
burdensome uses on areas where poor or minority people live, resulting
in either direct displacement of residents by noxious land uses, or an
undermining of environmental quality, safety, and stability of the neigh-
The type of expulsive zoning occurring in New York City takes both forms,
and also differs in some important respects from Rabin's case study
cities, as will be discussed below. One of the underlying purposes of New
York City's original 1916 zoning plan was the preservation of property
values in the more affluent commercial and residential parts of the city,
and the protection of these lands and people from the encroachment of
industry, immigrants, and blacks (Makielski, 1966; Toll, 1969). Although New
York City never participated in outright racial zoning, the city's residential
populations are strongly segregated by race and ethnicity -- perhaps as
much in 2000 as in 1960, especially considering that New York City's
population is now more than 60 percent minority (see Figure 1). The
city's zoning policies and practices and the related urban renewal efforts
Projections 3
and transportation projects, as well as the exclusionary zoning practices
of many of the city's surrounding suburbs, have concentrated poor and
minority people and noxious land uses together in certain areas of the
city. Many view racial segregation as the root of the problem:
"Segregation in both the residential and labor markets is what enables
environmental burdens to be inequitably distributed in the first place"
(Higgins, 1993, p. 287).
Industrial Zones in New York City
New York City has 59 major manufacturing districts, according to the New
York City Department of City Planning's "Citywide Industry Study:
Geographical Atlas of Industrial Areas" (1993). As befits a city greatly
expanded and industrialized in the seaport-centric 19th century, most of
New York's manufacturing districts are located along its many water-
fronts. The rest of the major manufacturing zones are located near more
recent forms of transportation infrastructure, such as railroads, airports,
and highway interchanges (see Figure 2).
Many of New York City's existing industrial areas were in place by the late
19th century, well before New York's first zoning ordinance in 1916. To a
large degree, the 1916 zoning plan reflected the locations of existing
industrial areas. However, there was no separate category for "industri-
al" zones in the 1916 zoning plan. Industrial uses could be sited in an
"unrestricted" zone, which was a zone virtually without restriction as to
land use (New York City Board of Estimate and Apportionment, 1916). Residential
uses could also be sited in an unrestricted zone, and, in fact, it was con-
sidered good planning practice, at that time and until relatively recently,
to have working-class residences within or nearby manufacturing dis-
tricts, in support of the "walk-to-work" principle. According to the "Master
Plan of Adoption of City-Wide Map Showing Sections Containing Areas for
Clearance, Replanning, and Low-Rent Housing," prepared by the Division
of Master Plan of the City Planning Commission in 1940, one of the six
siting criteria for the proposed low-rent housing was "opportunity to walk
to work without detriment to housing project because of too close prox-
imity to nuisance industries." This criterion was waived in areas that were
particularly "favorable" as judged by all other listed criteria. At this time
it was thought that industrial zones and working-class/poor residential
communities could and should co-exist, and that housing designed as
"low-rent" to replace housing defined as "substandard" should be in
close proximity ("walking distance") to the industrial zones, or "areas of
employment opportunity."
The Low-Rent Housing report quoted from an earlier Commission report
on the Queensbridge Houses:
In the opinion of this Commission, the building of low-rent housing in
new areas in this City has gone as far as it should now be permitted
to go. The time has now come for replacing appropriately located
obsolescent areas with modern housing for low income groups, par-
ticularly where this can be accomplished within walking distance of
opportunities for employment (New York City Planning Commission, Division of
Master Plan, 1940, p. 3
In other words, the "new areas" of the city that hadn't been developed
yet would be reserved for middle-class housing, while any new "low-rent"
housing would be located in existing older areas of the city. In discussing
the selection of potential areas for the proposed low-rent housing, the
report outlines three density categories, with the highest density housing
to be located in Manhattan, the Bronx, and downtown Brooklyn.
This type of housing [the highest density] is also indicated in Red
Hook, Greenpoint, and Long Island City, where permanent industrial
belts provide especially advantageous opportunities for walking to
work. As many people should be able to live nearby such opportuni-
ties as can be housed without violating good standards of density
and design (New York City Planning Commission, Division of Master Plan, 1940, p.
The city's original designation in 1916 of areas as residential, commer-
cial, or unrestricted zones was carried out by a lengthy political process,
and involved public hearings. Most affluent and middle-class residential
areas were zoned residential, and many of those neighborhoods that
were not zoned residential in the draft plans had the opportunity to peti-
tion their elected representatives to revise the zoning before the plan was
finalized (
Makielski, 1965). Many working-class and lower-income residential
neighborhoods were zoned unrestricted, and many of these neighbor-
hoods were already located in or near industrial districts (Maantay, 2000).
These residential areas located in or near industrial districts had decid-
edly less protection from noxious land uses than their more affluent
neighbors who lived in areas zoned residential.
In 1961, New York undertook the first major overhaul of its zoning regu-
lations since 1916, although thousands of individual zoning text amend-
ments and map changes had taken place in the intervening years
(Makielski, 1965; New York City Department of City Planning, 1985). The 1961 plan
resulted from years of study by the city and its consultants (Harrison, Ballard,
& Allen, 1950; Voorhees, Walker, Smith, & Smith, 1958
) and a series of public hear-
ings. The new zoning separated land into three major categories:
Residential (R), Commercial (C), and Manufacturing (M), requiring the
land in the "unrestricted" zones to be designated as one of the three cat-
egories. Since many of the old unrestricted districts had residential uses
interspersed with industrial, it was not straightforward which zone to
assign. The planners generally designated residential areas near indus-
try as "R," residential, if the neighborhood seemed demographically
Projections 3
stable or gentrifying (Maantay, 2000). They generally designated residential
areas near industry as "M," manufacturing, if the neighborhood seemed
"blighted," or had experienced "white flight," high rates of vacancy, aban-
donment, tax delinquency, and subsequent influx of minority residents
(Maantay, 2000). The residential uses within the newly designated M zones
were allowed to remain as non-conforming uses, but were severely limit-
ed by law as to expansion, rebuilding, renovation, and even repair. Many
were located in areas that were "redlined" by banks and insurance com-
panies, and so residential property owners could not usually get home
improvement loans, mortgages, or home insurance (Maantay, 2000).
A number of zoning experts were consulted for this study (see
methodology section below). As noted by one of the zoning experts:
There was a blanket policy [in the 1961 Zoning Resolution zone
delineation] that anything low-income would become zoned for man-
ufacturing. What they really did, I believe, in 1961, they re-zoned all
areas that were manufacturing and all areas that were suitable for
demolition, areas with derelict or substandard housing, areas that
could be subject to urban renewal, and they re-zoned them manu-
facturing. So you had a lot of working class communities that were
solid residential that were all zoned M from one end to the next. The
idea was that the residential uses would just go away - they needed
to build industrial parks requiring more and more land (
Z.I. #9).
Another zoning expert said:
Assumptions were made that these places [the formerly unrestrict-
ed districts] would go one way or the other, manufacturing or resi-
dential. How did they decide? They might have seen a neighborhood
as poor, not quite as important, and think it won't last. If the resi-
dential portion of the neighborhood was on the upswing, then zone
it residential and the industrial uses will atrophy; and if the neigh-
borhood is not on the upswing, zone it industrial and the residential
uses will atrophy. Of course, this didn't often happen as planned and
it was a kind of naïve assumption in retrospect - it also represents
a class bias (Z.I. #8).
Another zoning expert pointed out some of the underlying assumptions
of the zone designation process:
Mapping was not only governed by existing uses in 1961, but by larg-
er assumptions. There was a feeling that this would be a growth area
for manufacturing. So huge stretches of residential communities
were zoned M. Now these were nice private houses - smaller, older
houses reflecting the standards of the teens and twenties. The peo-
ple were expected to eventually move out into better housing, but
there was no better housing for that income bracket. There were
entire blocks of non-conforming residential uses (Z.I. #5).
As I will discuss in the sections below, the initial designation of some res-
idential areas as industrial zones, the expansion of certain industrial
areas, and the contraction of other industrial areas, all served to produce
expulsive zoning outcomes.
The inhabitants of industrial zones are subject to adverse impacts above
and beyond the negative effects of segregation. Industrial zones gener-
ally carry a higher environmental burden than do purely residential neigh-
borhoods in terms of pollution impacts and risks (Miller & de Roo, 1996).
These impacts stem directly from industrial processes as well as from
associated heavy truck traffic. For instance, just one solid waste transfer
station may require 1,000 truck trips per day to access its facility through
a residential neighborhood, and some neighborhoods may have 20 or
more of these facilities, such as, for instance, the Hunts Point Peninsula
in the Bronx, and the Greenpoint-Williamsburg section of Brooklyn
(Maantay, 2001a). Adverse impacts from truck traffic include reduced pedes-
trian safety and increased air pollution, noise, vibration, and traffic con-
In addition to truck-related impacts, other impacts from industrial and
waste-related processes include emissions of toxic substances to air,
soil, and water, visual blight, illegal dumping of hazardous materials, and
safety and health risks from the use and storage of hazardous materials.
Many of these impacts have been suspected of being linked to diseases,
especially respiratory ailments and various types of cancers (
1996; Head, 1995; National Research Council, 1997; Novotny, 1998; Wright, Bryant, &
Bullard, 1996
). Parts of the city closest to the heaviest industrial zones, for
instance, have extremely elevated rates of asthma (Nossiter, 1995).
With the loss of many port-related activities and associated transporta-
tion, warehouse, and manufacturing uses since the 1960s, the remain-
ing industrially zoned areas in many parts of New York City have instead
become repositories of noxious waste-related facilities. As manufacturing
activities diminished in industrial areas in recent decades, both private
and public waste-related facilities proliferated there (New York City Planning
Commission [CPC] & The Sanborn Company, 1956, 1980, 1990
). These include private
solid waste transfer stations, marine transfer stations, waste water treat-
ment plants, combined sewer overflow outfalls, sludge treatment facili-
ties, recycled materials handling facilities, junkyards, auto salvage yards,
scrap metal and construction debris processing facilities, and medical
Projections 3
waste disposal plants (Bronx Borough President's Solid Waste Management Task Force,
). The substitution of waste facilities for viable manufacturing fur-
thers the impression that these communities are being disproportion-
ately "dumped on" (Maantay, 2001a).
New York City Industrial Zone Case Study - Analytical Methodology
and Findings
The scope of the impacts of industrial zones is not trivial: approximately
22 percent of New York City's 1990 census population lives in census
tracts that are within these major M zones (Maantay, 2000; Maantay, 2001b).
People living in or adjacent to the major M zones are more likely to be
poorer than the average New Yorker, and more likely to be a member of
a "minority" group (see Figure 2 and Tables 1 and 2).
This statement
holds true for census data from 1960, 1970, 1980, and 1990 (Maantay,
). Although this study was conducted before the 2000 census data
were available, subsequent analysis of Bronx 2000 census data reveals
that the M zones still contain a higher percentage of minorities than bor-
ough- or city-wide averages, despite the fact that the population of the
Bronx is greater than 85% minority overall (Maantay, 2002b).
Additionally, although the general locations of industrial districts have
remained roughly the same over the past century, the geographic extents
and boundaries of M zones have not remained static over time, with
some M zones being increased and others decreased in area. Individual
M zones are reduced or enlarged in extent via the legal mechanism of the
zoning change. In order to examine the pattern of industrial zones and
zoning changes and to characterize the proximate populations, major M
zones and all re-zoning actions occurring between the years 1961-1998
were mapped using GIS. The 1961-1998 time frame was selected for the
study because December 1961 marks the date of the last major overhaul
By Borough, Per Decade, As Compared with New York City and Borough Averages
Table 1.
Projections 3
of the New York City Zoning Resolution. Data for actions prior to 1961
would not be directly comparable to data regarding later actions, due to
significant changes in zoning categories, procedures, and record-keeping.
October 1998 marks the time the archival data were researched and
By Borough, Per Decade, As Compared with New York City and Borough Averages ($)
Table 2.
compiled for this study, and thus represents the end point of the time
The "Major M Zones" as used in this study were those defined by the
New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) in their "Citywide
Industry Study: Geographical Atlas of Industrial Areas," January, 1993.
DCP's determination of what constitutes "major" industrial zones was
based on an assessment of several factors: the amount of land zoned
for industry, the number of people employed in industry for that area, and
transportation access. The boundaries for these major industrial districts
were based on neighborhood boundaries, major geographic or physical
features, historic and present day functions, and census tract bound-
aries, where feasible.
The determination of where M zone changes had occurred was based on
comparison of archival zoning change maps, Map Sections 1-35, New
York City DCP, 1961-1998. By comparing thousands of archival zoning
change maps, by extracting the changes affecting M zones, and by spa-
tially plotting the changes in industrial zones over time, the pattern of
zoning changes affecting industrial zones between 1961-1998 can be
The locations of major M zones and M zone changes were overlain with
a spatial database of census tracts, linked to attribute data of population
characteristics. Digital data sources were used so that census data could
be mapped and analyzed through Geographical Information Systems
(GIS) on the computer (
Adams, 1980; United States Department of Commerce, Bureau
of the Census, 1990; United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1980
New York City was divided into 2,218 census tracts for the 1990 census.
Population characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and income were
obtained from census attribute data from 1960, 1970, 1980, and 1990,
and these were mapped and compared using a standard deviation clas-
sification method in order to allow longitudinal comparison of deviation
from the average, since absolute numbers for income and percent minor-
ity changed drastically over the four decade period. Population informa-
tion was aggregated from census tract data for each of the four census
periods, at the following geographic levels: city-wide, borough-wide, cen-
sus tracts within major M zones, census tracts within 1/2 mile of "large"
and "very large" M zone increases (see zoning change definitions above),
and census tracts within 1/2 mile of "large" and "very large" M zone
The re-zonings were classified by type and magnitude, and were aggre-
gated both by decade and by borough. Size categories used were: minor
boundary adjustments (very small zoning change measured in feet);
small (one block or less); medium (more than one block, up to four
Projections 3
blocks); large (more than four blocks, up to ten blocks); and very large
(more than ten blocks). New York City's square block size is not consis-
tent, and typically varies between 1 and 3 acres. Parts of the analysis
focused on "large" and "very large" changes since, based on a review of
City Planning Commission (CPC) reports and Public Hearing records
available for the study time period, it was seen that many of the minor,
small, and medium zoning changes appeared to be tied to the needs of
specific property owners, and would seem to be an application of "spot
zoning," having little to do with comprehensive planning objectives. Also,
the large and very large zoning changes can be thought of as having a
larger impact on the surrounding communities as well as on the city as
a whole, although the incremental effect of many small changes cannot
be discounted.
The re-zoning action categories created reflected combinations of the
size classification and either of two types of changes: "increases" or
"decreases." "Increases" are M zones that were re-zoned either to
expand the boundaries of the M zone in areal extent, or to change the
zone designation to allow "heavier" (potentially more polluting) industrial
uses within the zone. These latter types have been termed "switches to
a heavier M zone." "Decreases" are M zones that were re-zoned either to
reduce the boundaries of the M zone in areal extent, or to change the
zone designation to allow "lighter" industrial uses, and prohibit "heavier"
industrial uses within the zone. These latter types have been termed
By Borough, Per Decade
Table 3.
"switches to a lighter M zone."
New York has reduced the overall amount of land zoned for industry by
re-zoning a substantial amount of its Manufacturing zones to other uses.
There were approximately 409 re-zoning actions (map changes) affecting
M zones between 1961 and the present. The city re-zoned land from M
to residential (R) or commercial (C) about 50 percent more often than it
re-zoned land from other uses to M. Eighty-two of these changes were
large or very large in scope, affecting from more than four blocks up to
ten blocks, and more than ten blocks, respectively. Not only was there a
disparity between the number of M zone decreases versus increases, but
there was also a disparity in where these changes occurred. Some bor-
oughs have had virtually no large or very large increases, and some bor-
oughs have had virtually no large or very large decreases (see Table 3).
Industrial areas re-zoned to increase the size or intensity of M zones
tended to have populations at the time of the re-zoning that were more
heavily minority and poorer than borough and/or city averages, and often
more so than the borough M zone average. Areas re-zoned to decrease
the size or intensity of M zones tended to have populations at the time
of the re-zoning that were not as poor or as heavily minority as the M zone
average and/or borough and city averages (see Figure 3).
The analysis also indicates that the areas that are re-zoned to increase
M zones are not only more likely to have a higher than average percent-
age of minority people with lower than average incomes, but that after re-
zoning to increase M districts these areas increasingly diverge from the
borough and city averages -- they become poorer and more heavily minor-
Compared with Borough + Major M Zone Averages
Table 4.
Projections 3
ity relative to the rest of the borough and city. Conversely, areas re-zoned
to decrease M districts tend to become more similar to (or even surpass)
the borough or city averages with regard to mean income, and more sim-
ilar to (or lower than) borough and city averages with regard to percent
minority population, after re-zoning (see Tables 4 and 5).
Official documents outline the planning rationales behind the re-zoning
actions. For instance, "marginal" or "deteriorated" residential neighbor-
hoods are considered more appropriate for re-zoning to industrial than
"stable" communities that have been "maintained." Sometimes "market
forces" or "market pressures" are cited as reasons for re-zoning districts
from M to other uses. The rationales for zoning changes were obtained
from archival documentation such as Zoning Amendment Applications,
City Planning Commission Calendars, Uniform Land Use Review
Procedure (ULURP) applications, Urban Renewal Plans, Environmental
Impact Assessments, Planning Studies, and letters and other documents
obtained through the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)
for the years 1961-1999. Documents from 1916-1961 were also con-
sulted, as available, for context and background of later policy develop-
ments. A complete list of archival documents used is given in Maantay
(2000), Appendix C.
Several previous studies have focused on whether the noxious land use
or the minority population came first (Been, 1994; Been & Gupta, 1996). In other
words, was the noxious facility sited before the nearby population
Compared with Borough + Major M Zone Averages
Table 5.
became predominantly minority and/or poor, or was the neighborhood
predominantly minority and/or poor when the facility was sited? I was
able to consider this issue, not in terms of particular noxious uses, but
in terms of the zoning changes that facilitate the siting of noxious uses.
Thus, my research poses a different question: Which came first, the zon-
ing changes or the people? I found that, in many instances, neighbor-
hoods were zoned to increase industrial uses after they had already
become poorer and more minority than the city and borough average, and
they diverged further from city and borough averages after re-zoning. The
issue of "which came first" may be important in establishing intent or
racial animus in a legal context, but whether active discrimination or a
series of thoughtless decisions and assumptions were behind the zoning
changes, the end result remains the same: poor and minority people are
disproportionately burdened by industrial zoning changes.
Five Industrially-Zoned Communities
In addition to the city- and borough-wide analyses of demographic and
zoning changes, I also looked in detail at five smaller case study
industrial areas. The intent of the case studies was to furnish more
information about the complexity of the issues involved in the zoning
change process than can be obtained by simply looking at the city- or
borough-wide patterns and trends of industrial zoning changes. The case
study areas were selected to represent a range of industrial areas, and
each needed to contain substantial industrial zones as well as contain a
residential population. In order to be illustrative of the different types of
industrial zoning changes that had taken place, it was desirable to have
at least one of each of the following areas represented in the analysis:
an area where M zones had been increased; an area where M zones had
been decreased; an area where M zones had remained basically the
same; and an area where the M zones had been changed to a different
kind of M zone. The zoning changes could then be correlated with policy
trends, changing demographics, and land use conditions over the four
decade study period.
The five case study areas selected were Red Hook, Brooklyn (M zones vir-
tually unchanged); Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn (M zones decreased); Hunts
Point, Bronx (M zones "switched" to a heavier M zone); Bathgate, Bronx
(large increases in M zones); and the Lower West Side of Manhattan
(large decreases in M zones). The last two case study areas will be the
focus of this section, and they offer the starkest contrast: the Bathgate
area received several large M zone increases, and the Lower West Side
received several large and very large M zone decreases.
The data used in the case study area analysis included the census tract
population data and the zoning change data used in the city- and bor-
ough-wide analysis, as discussed above. In addition, the case study area
analysis used land use data obtained from archival land use maps, plan-
ning reports, zoning amendment applications, and other zoning change
documentation specific to each area. Where applicable, information
gleaned from interviews with zoning experts was also incorporated into
the case study area analysis. The zoning experts were all people who had
been active in New York City zoning issues at some time during the last
40 years, and they included past City Planning Commissioners, former
and current DCP staff, planners from community, advocacy, and non-prof-
it planning organizations, and urban planning academics. Because many
still work in the New York City planning realm, their comments are pre-
sented without attribution.
My examination of land use changes in the five case study neighbor-
hoods gives a more detailed picture of how land uses changed in the four
decades, essentially before and after the zoning changes examined in
this study. This land use change "snapshot" was based on a series of
land use maps produced by the Sanborn Map Company for the City
Planning Commission in 1956 and updated in 1980 and 1990. These
maps designate each property lot as belonging to one of about 20 main
land use categories, with more detailed sub-categories. Because the land
use maps were not in digital format, they could not be utilized within the
GIS, and therefore, it was not possible to achieve an accurate quantita-
tive analysis of land use categories and amounts by computer. Since tax
lot size varies considerably within a typical New York City block, it would
be insufficient and misleading simply to manually count lots, and any
other type of manual measurement on such small-scale maps was unlike-
ly to provide accurate results. The land use analysis of the various years
was accomplished by a visual block-by-block comparison, noting for each
block general differences in land use over the years. This yielded a rea-
sonably accurate qualitative description of land use change, although
actual acres of change from one land use to another would be difficult to
determine with any degree of precision. The five industrial case study
areas vary in size, ranging from 100 to 200 square blocks. Land uses
were color-coded on the maps for the five case study areas, for all the
time series of maps available for those map sections.
In general, the areas where M zones had been expanded in areal extent
or had their zoning designation changed ("switched") to accommodate
heavier (more polluting) industrial uses show an intensification of indus-
trial uses. These uses are often not manufacturing, but waste-related
industries. Non-conforming homes within the M zones in 1956 were
largely gone by 1990, replaced by industrial uses, auto-related uses, junk-
yards, and vacant lots. On the other hand, in the areas where M zones
were reduced in areal extent, or had their zoning designation switched to
accommodate lighter (less polluting) industrial uses or mixed uses, the
industrial land uses diminished over time, and there were more vacant
lots in the pockets that remained industrially-zoned. Vacant land in the
newly created residentially-zoned areas was rare, and many formerly
Projections 3
industrial use lots now within R zones had been converted to residential
Bathgate, Bronx
Bathgate was chosen for the purposes of this study to represent a com-
munity that had experienced a major increase in its M zones. About 45
acres of residentially-zoned blocks were re-zoned as M zones, including
the de-mapping of an "abandoned" playground, according to the Mid-
Bronx Industrial Urban Renewal Plan (
New York City Department of City Planning,
). During the study time period, Bathgate was transformed from a
neighborhood of mainly white, lower middle-class and working-class resi-
dents to an overwhelmingly minority and poor neighborhood. The 1969
Data Source: US Census Bureau, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990
Figure 1.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
NYC Mean 22.9%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
2 - 3 Std. Dev.
No Data
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
NYC Mean 36.1%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
No Data
-2 - -1 Std. Dev.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
NYC Mean 44.2%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
No Data
-2 - -1 Std. Dev.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
NYC Mean 56.6%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
Projections 3
Data Sources: US Census Bureau, 1990; New York City Department of City Planning, Citywide
Industry Study: Geographical Atlas of Industrial Areas, January, 1993
Figure 2.
Major M Zones
Parks + Public Spaces
-2 - -1 Std. Dev.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
NYC Mean 56.6%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
Figure 3.
Data Sources: US Census Bureau, 1990; New York City Department of City Planning, Map
Sections 1-35, Archival Record of Zoning Map Amendments, 1961-1998
-3 - -2 Std. Dev.
-2 - -1 Std. Dev.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
Bronx Mean $29,200
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
2 - 3 Std. Dev.
> 3 Std. Dev.
No Data
Large Increase
Large Switch to “Heavier” M Zone
Very Large Switch to “Heavier” M Zone
Large Decrease
Very Large Decrease
Large Switch to “Lighter” M Zone
Bronx Parks and Public Spaces
Projections 3
Data Source: US Census Bureau, 1960, 1990
Figure 4.
Case Study Area
Bronx Parks
100 people
No Data (In 1960 Only)
Figure 5.
Case Study Area
Major M Zones 1993
Bronx Parks + Public
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
Bronx Mean 25.4%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
2 - 3 Std. Dev.
> 3 Std. Dev.
No Data
-2 - -1 Std. Dev.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
Bronx Mean 49.2%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
No Data
-2 - -1 Std. Dev.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
Bronx Mean 63.7%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
No Data
Minor Increase
Small Increase
Small Decrease
Medium Increase
Medium Decrease
Large Increase
POPULATION, 1960 - 1980
Data Sources: US Census Bureau, 1960, 1970, 1980; New York City Department of City
Planning, Map Sections 1-35, Archival Record of Zoning Map Amendments, 1961-1998
Projections 3
Data Sources: US Census Bureau, 1960, 1970, 1980; New York City Department of City
Planning, Map Sections 1-35, Archival Record of Zoning Map Amendments, 1961-1998
Figure 6.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
Manhattan Mean 39.1%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
No Data
Case Study Area
Major M Zones 1993
Manhattan Parks +
Public Spaces
Small Decrease
Medium Decrease
Large Decrease
Large Switch to
“lighter” M Zone
Very Large Decrease
Very Large Switch to
“lighter” M Zone
-2 - -1 Std. Dev.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
Manhattan Mean 45.3%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
No Data
-2 - -1 Std. Dev.
-1 - 0 Std. Dev.
Manhattan Mean 43.6%
0 - 1 Std. Dev.
1 - 2 Std. Dev.
No Data
New York City Master Plan describes the area as "economically and
socially depressed and physically blighted" (New York City Planning Commission,
1969, p. 36
). This did not happen overnight, nor was there any one cause,
but the changes were propelled, in large measure, by the construction of
the Cross-Bronx Expressway, which tore the neighborhood in two and
destroyed the physical fabric of Bathgate, as well as its community cohe-
siveness (Caro, 1979; New York City Department of City Planning, 1993). As these
demographic and socio-economic changes occurred, other broader
trends and far-reaching circumstances led to severe private disinvest-
ment in neighborhoods like Bathgate. Wholesale landlord abandonment
of its housing stock took place, leading to widespread destruction of
property and city take-over of buildings. Although the city inherited much
of the property in the community, becoming in effect its biggest landlord,
it also declined to invest in the area, and the housing stock deteriorated
Many residential buildings [in Bathgate] were vacant and derelict,
and we didn't have a housing program [funding opportunities for new
housing construction or renovation] at that time [the 1970s-1980s],
and the philosophy was to create jobs for people. The only way to
create jobs, it was thought, was to create sites with large floor plates
so that you could build new manufacturing plants that could accom-
modate the single story production flow… (Z.I. #7).
Using the land use maps, one can trace the dramatically increasing num-
bers of vacant lots, the increase in public housing projects, the reduction
in the number of private homes and, often, the change in use of the hous-
ing over the study time period. Some of the remaining private houses
which previously had been designated as #3, #4, or #5 on the land use
map, meaning they had been single-family detached, single-family
attached, or two-family homes, were now given a designation such as
"#4-12" on the map, indicating that although it was considered a single-
family attached structure, it was now being used for (public) social serv-
ices purposes. The over-saturation of "community facilities," such as
drug rehabilitation centers and homeless shelters, also may have con-
tributed to the downward spiral of Bathgate. It obviously had become a
convenient dumping ground for the city's most locally undesirable land
uses. There had been a building boom in large-scale public housing proj-
ects in the Bathgate vicinity starting in the 1960s. Several thousand new
dwelling units had been built in the area during the study time period, but
despite the large and almost permanent "captive" population in the new
public housing, substantial overall depopulation occurred in the area
from 1960 to 1990, with a two-thirds reduction of the population from
1970 to 1980 alone. The population of the case study area went from
about 144,000 to about 52,000 in that 10-year period (see Figure 4).
Bathgate was one of the poorest and most heavily minority neighbor-
Projections 3
hoods in the Bronx, and possibly in the entire city, at the time that three
of its large residential areas were proposed for re-zoning to industrial dis-
tricts, as part of an urban renewal plan to establish several industrial
parks (see Figure 5).
Bathgate had been burned out - it had been one of the first victims
of the South Bronx syndrome. It was thought to be an appropriate
area to symbolize the phoenix that rises up out of the ashes. [The
Bathgate Industrial Park] was meant to be a showcase -- to address
the lack of suitable jobs and the high unemployment at the time
among this population. The idea was that the people living in the
neighborhood would be the ones benefiting from the jobs. One of the
great myths of city planning is the walk-to-work myth … Bathgate had
so many low-income housing projects that you almost had to do a
Bathgate [Industrial Park] to justify the concentration of low-income
housing if you were redeveloping the area (Z.I. #5).
The neighborhood was viewed by the DCP staff and Commissioners as a
"marginal residential neighborhood" and as "attractive for re-zoning to
Compared with New York City + the Bronx, 1960 - 1990 (Percent)
Table 6.
Compared with New York City + the Bronx, 1970 - 1990 ($)
Table 7.
industrial uses." Following are some excerpts from three different re-zon-
ing documents that outline the planning rationale behind the proposed
changes from residential to industrial:
The objectives of the Mid-Bronx Industrial Urban Renewal Plan remove blight, unsanitary, and hazardous conditions present-
ly within the urban renewal area, to demolish and clear existing sub-
standard and unsanitary structures...[and to establish] land use pat-
terns consistent with modern planning concepts and conducive to
the creation of a superior living and working environment... (A-1358 /
820721ZMX, 1/1981, from the Mid-Bronx Industrial Urban Renewal Plan
The proposed action is the re-zoning of all or portions of seven
blocks of the Bathgate area from residential with commercial overlay
to manufacturing. The goals of the proposed actions are to encour-
age industrial/commercial development in the area, enhance the
market potential of unproductive real estate (private and public) and
provide employment opportunities for area residents (A-1453 /
860696ZMX, 2/25/86, from ULURP Application form
Over the past decade, Bathgate North has become a marginal resi-
dential neighborhood. The Community experienced the same
decline, deterioration, obsolescence and abandonment of residential
real property which spread through much of the South Bronx during
the 1970s. The area was originally considered a desirable residen-
tial neighborhood, adjacent to the Crotona Park extension...However,
the deteriorating character of many of these buildings, together with
the demographic changes of the past two decades, resulted in a
declining demand for the housing stock of the area...The project
area has abandoned residential buildings, an increase in property
reverting to city ownership, and a considerable amount of ongoing
demolition. Manufacturing uses have replaced residential uses as
the predominant land use in the area. Housing conditions suggest
that residential use will not recover in the foreseeable future...The
area proposed for re-zoning is attractive for industrial uses...The
commission has therefore concluded that the proposed re-zoning is
appropriate... (
A-2453 / 860696ZMX, 8/6/86, From City Planning Commission
Report, Calendar No. 80
These statements were made at a time when the city was losing large
amounts of its manufacturing-zoned areas in Manhattan due to "market
pressures" and conversion to residential or mixed-use zones, as dis-
cussed below. The Bathgate industrial parks were intended to make a
profitable use of the blighted area, in lieu of repairing or replacing hous-
ing and promoting community-based development schemes.
The community was opposed to the Bathgate Industrial Park. The
community would have preferred residential development. The
Chairman of the Board in [Community] District 3 was also head of a
community association in Bathgate, and he was opposed to the re-
zoning and the whole industrial park strategy. His argument was that
this was an area in between two parks, and that it could have been
and should have been redeveloped as a low-rise residential area (Z.I.
The re-zoning of R districts to M1-4 in Bathgate has not had an uplifting
impact on the surrounding residential community, which is now even poor-
er in comparison with the 1990 New York City mean household income
than it was in 1970 and 1980, before the re-zonings. It is also more heav-
ily minority than most neighborhoods in New York City, being virtually 99
percent minority (see Tables 6 and 7).
With all the public money poured into those industrial parks, so
much more could have been done to help the people in those com-
munities. Instead the money went to subsidize businesses. The
industrial parks were not big successes even in terms of what they
were designed to do, they were minimally successful in attracting
industry, and from the community's standpoint, they didn't help revi-
talize the area at all (Z.I. #6).
The Lower West Side, Manhattan
The Lower West Side was selected for this study to represent an area
that had experienced a substantial decrease in the extent of its M zones,
and large switches from M districts zoned for heavier industrial uses to
lighter M zones. The Lower West Side, roughly the areas known today as
Tribeca, SoHo, and the Far West Village, was for over a century an indus-
trial waterfront neighborhood, with some mixture of working-class resi-
dents, especially north of Houston Street in the Far West Village. In the
1960s and 70s, with the dislocation of many of the port activities and
the technological changes in manufacturing processes and transporta-
tion, many industrial firms left the area. In the early to mid-1970s, the
city experienced a severe financial crisis, accompanied by an increased
exodus of industry from the city. Shortly after, the city decided to re-zone
the area to allow housing in the manufacturing lofts, a process that had
started illegally some time earlier.
During the study time period, the Lower West Side area had received only
reductions in M zones, some of them quite vast relative to Manhattan
land availability. The case study area had been re-zoned a number of
times to facilitate specific projects, which consisted mainly of re-zoning
M districts as R or C, in order to permit urban renewal schemes and hous-
ing development, including the more than 90-acre Battery Park City
re-zoning, the 40-acre Washington Street Urban Renewal Area (URA) re-
zoning, the SoHo loft conversion re-zoning, and Tribeca's Lower
Projections 3
Manhattan Mixed-Use District re-zoning.
The New York City 1969 Master Plan described the area now known as
the South Houston Industrial Area (SoHo) as follows:
The largest concentration of industry in the district occupies a 40-
block area between Canal, West Houston, and West Broadway. This
area of industrial loft buildings is sometimes referred to as the "Cast
Iron District" because of its many ornate cast iron facades. More
than 1,100 firms provide some 25,000 unskilled and semiskilled
jobs in such industries as textiles and apparel, printing and graphic
arts, plastic goods and hardware. Increasing numbers of artists are
beginning to occupy the smaller loft spaces vacated by industries
moving from the area, particularly in the South Houston Industrial
Area (SoHo). This is now illegal, but we are considering legalizing use
by the artists of the narrow lofts that would otherwise be left vacant.
Even though employment is declining, the area remains a prime
source of employment for unskilled and semiskilled workers, partic-
ularly black and Puerto Rican. The firms in the section perform a nec-
essary function and should be encouraged to remain at this time
(New York City Planning Commission, 1969).
Although long an industrial area, SoHo became increasingly seen as a
blighted and inefficient use of the land. Various new uses were proposed
for it, including that the area be razed in order to become part of the
Lower Manhattan Expressway, and failing that, that the area be razed to
form a continuation of the Washington Square South Urban Renewal Area
(moderate-income housing). In 1963, an extensive survey of the South
Houston Industrial Area was conducted under the aegis of the DCP. The
Rapkin Report, as it came to be known, surveyed the historical develop-
ment and contemporary land use of SoHo, and provided a detailed
account of the types of firms that were located in the area, as well as
advantages and drawbacks of the area for industry. The report found that
although the area was no longer a large-scale manufacturing center, it
still contained many smaller industrial firms (
New York City Planning Commission,
). Although none of the firms were critical to the city's economy, in
total they formed an efficient system for fostering small wholesale trades
and start-up type industries, functioning as what are today called "incu-
bators." These incubators, the report claimed, were vital to the continued
presence of industry in New York, as well as to the many thousands of
jobs dependent on them. These jobs, in turn, employed unskilled and
semiskilled workers, who were typically less well-educated, less affluent,
and usually minorities. The Rapkin Report was influential in turning the
tide of opinion away from razing SoHo for any large-scale development
schemes, but it did not prevent the eventual re-zoning of SoHo less than
10 years later. The loft conversion re-zonings created, in effect, an exclu-
sive residential neighborhood that proved incompatible with the continu-
Projections 3
ation of SoHo as an industrial area.
In the 1960s, this [the SoHo manufacturing district] was considered
a blighted area, ripe for urban renewal. SoHo didn't fit into City
Planning's vision of modern industrial use. That is why they were
considering it for the Lower Manhattan Expressway and then for
urban renewal [mainly housing]. The first set of loft conversion
changes came in the 70s, and they came largely in response to
increasing reports of vacancies in loft buildings - primarily in
SoHo…What Rapkin wrote about was the importance of space like
that - incubator space for industry. By the time of the first [Zoning
Resolution] text changes in the early 70s that allowed joint living-
work space, in typical city planning fashion, they did not list the new
use in the residential use categories -- it was listed under manufac-
turing, with the emphasis being on the "work," with the "living" part
Compared with New York City + Manhattan, 1960 - 1990 (Percent)
Table 8.
Compared with New York City + Manhattan, 1970 - 1990 ($)
Table 9.
incidental. And the image everyone had was of these enormous
sculptures that were metal, so it was like a factory. That was the
image, and rather naïve of the planners…Ironically, of course, the
zoning that legitimized the loft living drove the prices up so that nei-
ther the intended artist residents nor the industrial tenants found
the lofts affordable anymore (Z.I. #5).
Many of the urban renewal plan documents express "the provision of
housing" as a primary objective of their proposals. In practice, this
amounted to a certain type of housing, one designed to meet the hous-
ing needs of people who already had abundant choices for housing out-
side the city, but seemingly not so many choices for housing inside the
city. A letter from the Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) to the Chair of the City Planning Commission reiterated some of
the reasons for their proposed Washington Street URA: "To provide a
powerful new magnet for housing in the City's core area; to broaden its
share of that part of the region's new housing market composed largely
of younger households amenable to central city living…" (October 26, 1970
The application for the re-zoning of the Battery Park City (BPC) area, for
example, stated that one of the main purposes of the BPC was "to broad-
en the regional choice of residence by introducing new housing in the
vicinity of the major employment center of Lower Manhattan; to provide a
range of housing choice…" The regional choice that was ultimately broad-
ened was that which was offered to the affluent. Although the original
plans called for a mix of housing types and rental rates, with subsidies
available to promote a mix of income levels and affordable housing in the
complex, in fact the low-income housing was never built at BPC. The
requirement for the project to contain a certain percentage of low-income
housing was waived, and credit was given for the Battery Park City
Authority (a New York State quasi-governmental agency, with broad pow-
ers and the ability to circumvent New York City regulations) to build low-
income housing in another part of the city as a substitute for that
required at BPC. This new low-income housing was never built, neither at
BPC nor anywhere else in the city (
Lipton, 2001).
The series of re-zonings covering non-project-specific loft conversions as
well as the urban renewal projects contributed to the area's burgeoning
population and extreme upward shift of the average residents' economic
status. Although population increased significantly during the study time
period, the percentage of minority population did not increase at the rate
of New York City as a whole. In 1960, the population of the Lower West
Side was 9.3 percent minority, when Manhattan's was 39.1 percent and
New York City's was 22.9 percent. By 1990, the case study area's minor-
ity population comprised 15.1 percent of the total, while Manhattan's
was 51 percent, and New York City's was 56.1 percent (see Table 8). In
1960, residents' average family income was approximately 87 percent of
that of Manhattan. By 1990, the average income was 145 percent of
Manhattan's, making it one of the most affluent enclaves in Manhattan
(see Table 9).
Land use also changed significantly over the course of the study time
period. Industrial uses in the areas re-zoned from manufacturing to dis-
tricts permitting housing had diminished visibly between 1956 and 1990,
but industrial uses also diminished in areas adjacent to those re-zoned,
but which remained officially M zones. Formerly industrial buildings were
now shown on the Sanborn maps as residential uses for many of the
older loft buildings.
The general land use policy trend in effect for virtually the entire study
time period seemed to favor the development of housing and shopping
amenities for the affluent, commercial office towers, and waterfront recre-
ational uses, designed to appeal primarily to the resident and work-day
office populations. The policies were intended to "liberate" the valuable
land on the Lower West Side, away from New York City's downward slid-
ing industrial base and towards what was seen as the future: the ascen-
dancy of the consumer society. The underlying subtext of these policies
stated the forecast and hope that this strategy would serve to jump start
New York's failing economy, and reverse the distressing socio-economic
changes that had taken place and continued to take place.
The case study area today is one of the most affluent parts of the city.
As of the 1990 census, there was a very low percentage of minorities, as
compared with Manhattan as a whole and with all of New York City. M
zones have been severely curtailed, and an examination of land use
maps revealed that there has been a dramatic increase in residential
uses. Few vacant lots remain, and the area's population has more than
doubled in the study time period. Entire industry centers have disap-
peared from the case study area: electrical supplies, wholesale produce,
dairy and eggs market, paper packing, recycling and other waste-related
businesses, most of the import/export firms, distribution and trucking
firms, and some of the printing and graphic arts industries. Many of these
industries have relocated to the Bronx and other remaining industrial
New York City has developed two principal means of addressing distribu-
tional inequity and other land use planning challenges: an increase in the
mandated public participation opportunities in the planning process, and
the formulation and use of the Fair Share Criteria.
Projections 3
Community-based, or participatory, planning has been seen as a neces-
sary, but not sufficient, means of achieving environmental justice.
Although some view community-based planning as a way to empower the
"underdogs" and alter the balance of power (Renn, Webler, & Wiedemann, 1995),
community-based planning has also been thought of as promoting
NIMBY-ism rather than promoting environmental justice. If each commu-
nity has the right to make its own land use decisions, the result may be
each community's plan rejecting the siting of all perceived LULUs within
their community, based on the Not In My Back Yard philosophy, and in
keeping with exclusionary zoning principles. The right to determine the
direction of development in their community may translate into an unwill-
ingness to accommodate any objectionable land use, even if it is a land
use required to address the community's share of the burdens, such as
the solid waste produced by the community. Additionally, a comprehen-
sive plan for a city that is comprised solely of a collection of individual
community plans ends up being piecemeal planning, by not addressing
regional needs or larger city-wide land use issues.
New York City's 1990 revised Charter, Section 197(a), gave each
Community District the opportunity to devise its own comprehensive com-
munity-scale plan. But this process is unlikely to result in enhanced envi-
ronmental justice. The plans are difficult to develop, and are a lengthy
and potentially contentious procedure. Therefore, few community districts
have opted to make a community plan as yet, and many may never do so.
The few community district plans that have been developed so far have
been somewhat controversial, with no clear assurance at the end of the
process that the plan actually reflects the community's visions. Added to
this is the fact that the plans are strictly advisory, imparting no require-
ment for the Planning Commission or the City Council to abide by or
implement them.
The potential for each community to implement its plan falls within the
political realm, and thus depends on the political power of each commu-
nity. Thus, community district plans may end up as just another way for
the already empowered communities to retain power, and for the other
communities to see their plans ignored.
We have this 197-a process, same as we have the institutionaliza-
tion of the Community Boards. I think these formal procedures end
up empowering the already empowered communities and not having
a major impact in the disempowered communities… In the lower
income communities, the opinions of the Community Board are real-
ly, nine times out of ten, irrelevant to the decisions that are going to
be made (
Z.I. #6).
However, at least ostensibly, the new public participation provisions have
produced some potential avenues for achieving environmental justice.
There are mandated opportunities for the public to comment on proposed
actions, although, again, there is no requirement for the decision-makers
to abide by the public's wishes. Nevertheless, they are supposed to take
the community's viewpoint into consideration, and are often persuaded
to do so by the negative political ramifications of going against the com-
munity. This is dependent on the visibility of the community, their politi-
cal voice, and the media attention given to the issue. Planning decisions
are also, however, subject to the shifting allegiances and alliances of the
decision-makers in the Planning Commission and City Council, and often
party or borough obligations and loyalties override other considerations
in the vote.
Fair Share Criteria
The other major mechanism the city has developed to promote equity in
the distribution of the benefits and burdens of city facilities is the Fair
Share Criteria. The Fair Share Criteria (NYC DCP, 1991) are new procedures
and standards for agencies to follow in the siting of city facilities. The
new City Charter, Section 203(a), called for the mayor to promulgate rules
for such procedures and standards. The Charter revisions were approved
by the voters in 1989, and the Fair Share Criteria were created and
became effective in 1991. The Criteria were developed in response to an
on-going crisis encountered in the City's attempts to site locally-undesir-
able social service facilities and other types of city-owned or -operated
When the Fair Share Guidelines were first established, they were much
touted in the planning field as being a positive step in the direction of
environmental equity and locational conflict resolution. The American
Planning Association gave New York City an award for the Fair Share
guidelines because they were the best example of how "planning effec-
tively addresses specific community needs" (Rose, 1993, p. 97). How well
have the Fair Share Criteria addressed environmental justice issues in
New York City?
There are some limitations inherent in the Fair Share Criteria that reduce
their effectiveness in producing environmental justice outcomes. First,
they only apply to city-owned, -operated, or -contracted facilities and pro-
grams, and as the city continues to privatize an increasing number of its
functions, Fair Share becomes less of a protection for many communities
against over-saturation of objectionable facilities. Many objectionable
facilities are not even covered under the Criteria because of this limita-
tion (e.g., solid waste transfer stations, which are predominantly private).
Secondly, the Criteria only require that decision-makers take the criteria
"into account" in their deliberations on whether or not to approve a given
siting action. There are no formulas, quotas, or prohibitions for siting city-
owned facilities, and thus no clear-cut ways of ascertaining what the fair
Projections 3
share for a community actually should be or when a community is "over-
saturated." "The criteria do not prohibit the siting of facilities in the 'high
concentration' districts, but do require closer scrutiny of the effect of
facility clustering on neighborhood character" (Weisberg, 1993, p. 95).
Therefore, interpretation of the Fair Share Criteria is fairly subjective. How
thoroughly Fair Share considerations are evaluated and taken into
account in siting decisions varies considerably from agency to agency.
DCP subsequently issued guidelines to help agencies interpret the
Criteria when proposing sites for their facilities (New York City Department of City
Planning, 1998
), but each agency adheres to the Criteria in its own way,
some more diligently and rigorously than others.
[F]or some agencies, the Criteria fulfill their intended function as a
tool for careful analysis and disclosure of the potential impacts of a
new facility on a neighborhood. For other agencies, the absence of a
prescribed "roadmap" can allow for sloppy analysis and perfunctory
consideration of difficult issues (Karnovsky, 2002, p. 43).
Ultimately, the major factor in evaluating the effectiveness of the Fair
Share Criteria is what the purpose of Fair Share is perceived to be.
Should the Criteria produce equitable outcomes, or merely provide an
equitable process? Clearly, some planners and legal experts view the
Criteria's purpose as being the provision of an equitable process, and
view the Criteria as a success since they fulfill that objective.
The intent of Fair Share is to regularize the process, make it more
open, and bring into it previously disenfranchised participants. It
rests on the hope that by making more people responsible parties
in the deal-making, the public perception of illegitimacy will be less-
ened. Further, by setting up the process in which participation is to
be ensured, parties who fail or refuse to make use of the prescribed
administrative channels will lose their legitimacy and, hopefully, their
legal standing to bring subsequent challenge against siting deci-
sions (
Valletta, 1993, p. 20).
Regardless of how fair the process is, legitimacy will not be conferred if
people believe that the outcome is a foregone conclusion and their par-
ticipation has no impact on the decision. In fact, this may be counter-
productive, because people will feel that they are being allowed to par-
ticipate just to add a veneer of legitimacy to the proceedings, with no
hope of influencing the outcome, and they will eventually stop participat-
ing (and lending their legitimizing influence). In other words, the goal
ought not to be that the public perception of illegitimacy be lessened, but
that we strive to lessen actual illegitimacy as well.
According to the City Planning Department's own evaluation of the Fair
Share Criteria, (New York City Department of City Planning, 1995), the Criteria have
not resulted in a more equitable distribution of LULUs; the most suc-
cessful part of Fair Share has been the "advance warning" system
embodied in the Annual Statement of Needs, whereby the public is noti-
fied of and has the opportunity to comment on agencies' proposals for
facility sitings at an early stage in the site selection process. However
valuable this turns out to be in achieving equitable siting solutions, it is
reasonable to believe that most people view the purpose of Fair Share as
preventing over-saturation of noxious uses in any given community, and
not just providing public participation opportunities.
Perhaps including more specific guidelines in the Criteria would lead to
greater distributional equity. Some would say that equitable distribution
of noxious facilities is beside the point - the goal of environmental justice
is not to spread pollution and health risks around so that everyone is
impacted equally, but to address the root of the problem: by lessening
pollution and health risks for everyone, by questioning the need for many
of the environmental burdens being generated, and by challenging
assumptions about the modes of production and consumption in capi-
talist societies (Lake, 1993).
Still, the most salient problem with the Fair Share Criteria, especially in
light of the discussion on zoning and zoning changes above, is the fact
that the location and uneven distribution of M zones precludes many
communities in New York City from
ever bearing their share of the burden.
The underlying zoning for industry is taken as a given in siting analyses.
Many types of facilities covered by the Fair Share Criteria can only be
sited in an M zone. For those communities and people living in close
proximity to an M zone, then, Fair Share does little to alleviate the con-
centration of noxious facilities.
[T]he zoning map changed in the other boroughs, and the city never
related the zoning map changes in the other boroughs to the impact
that it would create in Hunts Point [in the Bronx]. If you eliminate
manufacturing zoning in Manhattan, how then could that borough
take its fair share of the burden? The DCP and the planning com-
mission looked at M zones strictly as areas for manufacturing, rather
than also acknowledging that they're the only areas that noxious
uses of any sort can locate in. The idea of Fair Share becomes
meaningless if a borough has little or no remaining M zones. They
will try to stick anything they don't know what else to do with in an
M zone. It is very inappropriate and ill-considered planning (Z.I. #7).
In his critique of the Fair Share Criteria, Joe Rose says: "a fundamental
goal of zoning has always been to isolate noxious uses from the general
population. This usually entails concentrating noxious facilities in partic-
ular areas, precisely the opposite of what New York's Fair Share guide-
lines prescribe" (Rose, 1993, p. 100). Unfortunately, siting noxious uses in M
Projections 3
zones does NOT isolate them from the general population -- or not, at
least, from the 22% of New Yorkers, predominantly poor and minority, who
live in a census tract within a major M zone.
In fact, the key difference between Rabin's definition of expulsive zoning
and the New York experience is that in New York, poor and minority peo-
ple have not, by and large, necessarily been expelled by expansions of M
zones, but continue to live in or near M zones having high concentrations
of noxious uses. There is often no other place for them to move to with-
in the city, especially given the amount of public housing that has been
constructed in industrial areas. In this case, the zoning changes that
increase noxious uses in a community would be more accurately termed
"intensive" zoning rather than expulsive zoning (Arnold, 2000), although
expulsive zoning still accurately describes what happens in New York
when industrial areas are re-zoned to other uses, and poor and minority
residents are forced out by gentrification.
Rose's primary complaint about the Fair Share Criteria is not their lack of
specificity in determining "fairness," but the futility of trying to legislate
fairness and of attempting to interject ethics into what is a difficult, polit-
ical, and subjective balancing act of conflicting interests. However, based
on my conversations with planners and policy-makers, many generally
believe it is possible (and desirable) to legislate fairness (Maantay, 2000).
In a way, that is what planning is all about: ensuring a high quality of life
for all through the regulatory framework of zoning, environmental impact
assessment, and other legal and policy approaches. In "Planning the
Equitable City," R. Susan Motley contends that "[A]n equitable city can
emerge only through a process that is equitable itself" (
Motley, 1993, p. 208).
For now, the equitable process must, to a large degree, be legislated.
Some states have woven environmental justice criteria into their environ-
mental laws (Gross, Shafsky, & Brown, 2000), but these typically have to do with
creating a more inclusive approval process for permit applications for
noxious uses, assisting community members to participate in the regu-
latory process, or encouraging the equitable clean-up of already contam-
inated land. They do not get at the heart of the matter -- the zoning des-
ignations and zoning changes that permit a concentration of noxious
uses near certain groups of people. Although increased opportunities for
public participation, community-based planning, and (to a much lesser
degree) the Fair Share Criteria have brought additional political pressure
and media attention to bear on the issue of environmental injustice in
New York City, other effective ways of dealing with land use inequities are
available, and have been used elsewhere.
Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold discusses some of these methods in
"Planning Milagros: Environmental Justice and Land Use Regulation," as
well as in this volume's "Land Use Justice." Other cities have tried dif-
ferent planning and zoning techniques, such as comprehensive re-zoning
to include overlays with "conditional uses" for certain use groups (East
Austin, Texas); buffer requirements separating industry and residences,
and a permitting process for noxious uses where approvals can be
denied based solely on a community's over-saturation with hazardous
material storage, use, or manufacture (Denver, CO); and zoning text
amendments barring certain land uses from the city altogether, such as
metal shredders in St. Paul, Minnesota (Arnold, 1998; Arnold, 2000). Arnold
advocates changing zoning texts rather than zoning maps, since courts
tend to uphold text changes more often than map changes as evidence
of comprehensive zoning, and text changes could be used to alter use
groups within a type of zone without altering property lot designation or
zone boundaries.
These flexible zoning techniques recognize that we must make industrial
zones safer. By creating regulations that force industrial neighborhoods
to pursue a higher standard of environmental quality and by introducing
flexible zoning techniques, improved performance standards for industry,
and sensible mixed-use zoning designations, expulsive zoning problems
can be addressed through: 1) stemming the tide of extreme racial seg-
regation in industrial zones, which affects industrial areas that have been
targeted to be dumping grounds for noxious uses; and 2) discouraging
expulsion of minorities and industries from industrial areas that have
been targeted by planners and private investors for gentrification.
Zoning as practiced in New York City is not a benign or neutral process.
Decisions about the best locations for noxious uses have racial and
class implications, since M zones are the only places in New York where
noxious uses can be sited, and the people living in and near M zones
have a much higher than average likelihood of being poor and minority.
Areas where M zones are increased in extent are more likely to have a
higher than average proportion of minorities and lower-income people,
while areas where M zones are decreased often have a lower proportion
of minority and lower-income people. As the city has re-zoned many areas
from M to other uses, industrial uses have become intensified in the
remaining M zones. The re-zoning of vast areas of the Lower West Side
from M to other uses is not unrelated to the city's need to re-zone areas
of the Bronx from residential to manufacturing.
We cannot say that the city purposely selected poor and minority com-
munities as "appropriate" places to increase industry and noxious uses.
Nor can we say that the city purposely selected more affluent and
"whiter" industrial areas as "appropriate" places to discourage industry
and begin gentrification. But, issues of intentionality aside, we must
acknowledge the role of city planning in reducing some people's quality
Projections 3
of life and improving others', while ostensibly promoting equal protection
under the law of zoning.
I spoke with many people about my study, both planning professionals
and laypeople from a wide variety of backgrounds, and the response,
almost invariably, was something along the lines of: "So, what else is
new? Poor people live in lousy places. That's the way the world is. There
has to be some land allocated for industry and unpleasant things, and
those things are definitely not going to be put near rich people!"
Unfortunately, expulsive zoning has become so naturalized in our society
(even among some of the planners with whom I spoke) that few people
think it noteworthy that planning policy and the law of zoning differential-
ly protect communities behind a mask of scientific objectivity and the
ideals of justice implied in an equal application of the law.
No question that zoning protects some people better than others.
Zoning is responsive to wealth, property, political power, and those
areas or communities that are more politically empowered or con-
nected clearly will be able to get done the zoning changes that they
desire and to prevent the zoning changes they don't desire. Less
politically or economically empowered communities, even though you
have a formal structure [for public participation], will be less able to
impact on changes that are taking place to them or around them (Z.I.
Of course zoning doesn't protect equally - but this is just part and
parcel of our negative attitudes towards both industry and poor peo-
ple...Zoning segregates not just land use, but also people. Zoning is
best at protecting areas of one- and two-family homes. Zoning pro-
tects areas of home ownership. It protects areas of higher land
values. These areas need to be protected because, reading between
the lines, these are presumably the people who need to be most pro-
tected (Z.I. #1).
Zoning is perceived as the law is: scientific-based and justice-orient-
ed. Zoning is supposed to be impartial, even-handed. We assume
that zoning, being part of our body of law, affords justice, but the pur-
pose of zoning is not to provide justice, but to protect some more
than others, based on the value of land, and by inference, the value
of people. Zoning as we have it perpetuates a stratified economy (Z.I.
Everyone does not get equal protection [from zoning]. It simply isn't
possible to provide that to everyone (Z.I. #2).
Zoning is the determinant in decisions about where the city continues to
site (or allows to be sited) noxious uses. Zoning tends to concentrate
noxious uses in poor and minority industrial neighborhoods due to re-zon-
ing of more affluent and less minority industrial neighborhoods to other
uses. As long as "market forces" govern zoning and, therefore, planning,
in New York, this concentration of noxious uses in poorer and more minor-
ity areas will result. When the main purpose of planning is viewed as the
facilitation of market trends, the concentration of noxious uses in poor
neighborhoods is inevitable. When planning tries to address quality-of-life
issues in low-income populations, this concentration is less inevitable.
Perhaps the first step in rectifying the inequitable city, and planning a liv-
able city for all, would be to acknowledge the role zoning can play in per-
petrating and perpetuating the disproportionate concentration of noxious
land uses and the resulting environmental burdens in some locations and
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1 The difference between process equity (or procedural fairness) and outcome equality is a
very important distinction to make in planning, since the way policy-makers have responded
to accusations of environmental injustice has primarily been to create additional public par-
ticipatory processes, Fair Share Guidelines, and other mechanisms to ensure "fairness" in
siting noxious facilities. However, recent history has shown that process equity has not nec-
essarily resulted in more equitable outcomes.
2 Appropriateness is a rather vague, catch-all term, implying conformance with currently
accepted planning standards and goals, compatibility with existing or desired land use pat-
terns, or the city's Master Plan, if there is one in effect. For example, changes to the zoning
resolution and zoning maps require the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) to find
that proposed re-zoning reflects "appropriate zoning" for the area in question. A substantial
amount of subjectivity creeps into this decision-making process regarding what constitutes
"appropriate" land use for a given part of the city. While the term "appropriate" is rarely
defined, it appears as a justification in virtually every re-zoning application and CPC deci-
sion, as well as many planning studies and policy documents (Maantay, 2000).
3 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) refer to the combination of computer hardware,
specialized software, spatial and non-spatial attribute databases, and "people power"
required to conduct spatial analyses and computerized mapping. By overlaying individual lay-
ers of spatial and attribute data (for instance, a layer showing the locations of manufactur-
ing zones and a layer of demographic data by census tracts), the GIS analyst can extract the
characteristics of the population within a given distance of the M zones. This analysis would
be extremely laborious, if not impossible, to accomplish manually, especially given the large
data sets involved and amount of areal and statistical calculations required. The GIS soft-
ware permits summaries of statistics for various levels of data aggregation, e.g. for the
entire city, by borough, by M zones, by census tracts, etc. Unions (the Boolean operator OR)
and Intersects (the Boolean operator AND) can be performed on multiple data layers to
examine possible spatial correspondence and association between variables, and to select
portions of data sets meeting certain criteria. These types of analyses are only practicable
with GIS.
4 The term "minority group" refers to the population that is not Non-Hispanic White. Many
people consider the term "minority" to be a misnomer, because in many US urban areas, as
in New York City, people classified as minorities actually constitute the majority. Based on
the census definitions, and the guidelines established in Federal Statistical Directive No. 15
issued by the Office of Management and Budget in 1992, which provides standards on eth-
nic and racial categories for statistical reporting to be used by all federal agencies, this
study used a derived variable of "Minority." This category (for 1990 census data) is a sum-
mation of Hispanic, Non-Hispanic Black, Non-Hispanic American Indian, Non-Hispanic Asian
or Pacific Islander, Eskimo or Aleut, and Non-Hispanic Other Race. Other federal agencies,
such as the US Environmental Protection Agency, construct a similar "Minority" category as
above for their research on environmental justice issues. Because this study required a lon-
gitudinal analysis, census data from 1960 through 1990 were used. One of the problems
with cross-census comparisons is the lack of consistency in many census attribute data cat-
egories over the years, especially with data on race and ethnicity. Variables, methods of
data aggregation, types of information collected, and census policies on issues such as con-
fidentiality, differ from one census to the next, potentially affecting the validity of cross-cen-
sus comparisons.
5 Quotations from the zoning experts used throughout this article are attributed to num-
bered Zoning Interviewees, abbreviated as Z.I. #1, Z.I. #2, etc., in order to preserve the
anonymity requested by some of the interviewees. The complete list of interviewees and
their affiliations is given in Appendix B, Maantay, 2000.
Projections 3
... Scholars argue that the degree to which zoning shields residential areas from the externalities of heavy commercial and industrial land use is often contingent on the race and class of those living in these areas (Arnold, 2007 ;Colquette & Henry Robertson, 1991;Connerly, 2005 ;Hanchett, 1998 ;Maantay, 2001Maantay, , 2002aMaantay, , 2002bRabin, 1989 ;Sidawi, 1997 ). Most early zoning schemes created exclusive residential districts but also allowed residential construction in industrial and commercial districts. ...
... This study is problematic, however, because it did not assess the racial or class characteristics of these tracts at the time they were zoned, leaving open the possibility that zoning in low-income, minority areas was not the result of targeting these populations. Nor do the selected tracts present a comprehensive picture of zoning in any of the seven cities. Maantay ( 2001Maantay ( , 2002aMaantay ( , 2002b examines the demographic characteristics of census tracts within New York City's manufacturing zones as well as those within a half-mile of parcels that the city rezoned to and from manufacturing use. She assesses the racial and class characteristics of the rezoned areas at the time that the rezonings happened over three decades and across the entire jurisdiction. ...
... To evaluate the existence of racial or class bias in rezonings to and from heavy commercial and industrial land use, I use a mixed-methods approach based on Maantay's (2001Maantay's ( , 2002aMaantay's ( , 2002b work. I assess the contemporary demographics of areas where Durham approved rezonings to and from heavy commercial and industrial zoning categories and perform an empirical analysis of materials informing these decisions. ...
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Problem, research strategy, and findings: In this study I investigate whether zoning has traditionally protected communities of color from the dangers of heavy commercial and industrial use to the extent that it has protected White communities. I evaluate whether upzonings—changes from less intensive uses to more intensive heavy commercial and industrial uses—disproportionately occurred in African-American and low-income neighborhoods in Durham (NC) from 1945 to 2014, and I evaluate the comparative impact of downzonings. I use the contemporary demographics of the census tracts where these rezonings occurred and qualitative evidence from public hearings, plans, and other relevant primary materials. I find that before 1985, the pattern of rezonings in Durham had negative implications for African-American areas in particular. Environmental justice efforts in the 1980s, followed by gentrification, caused the city’s planners and local elected officials to change course. Takeaway for practice: Planners have an ethical obligation to promote equity, and their ability to do so depends on understanding sources of social injustice. In Durham, race historically played a role in upzonings and downzonings involving heavy commercial and industrial uses. The city also demonstrates that planners and local elected officials can successfully intervene to end disparities in zoning practice across communities of different racial characteristics. Assessing past zoning practices in other cities may reveal similar records of bias and help planners to present cases for corrective action.
... Thus, people of color have had limits, beyond economic, in where they can purchase property, sometimes keeping them in the redlined areas that not only tend to have less tree canopy (Locke et al., 2021), but also have less vegetation overall (Namin et al., 2020), and are significantly hotter (Hoffman et al., 2020). Variation in conditions within a city can also be associated with zoning and land use (e.g., see Maantay, 2002Maantay, , 2007, and highlights the need for place-specific investigation of social and development histories that have shaped the current landscape. For example, in NYC, while there is lower tree canopy cover in redlined areas in four out of the five boroughs, there is no discernable trend in Manhattan, where lower tree canopy tends to be associated with higher incomes (Treglia et al., 2021a). ...
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Urban forests are critical infrastructure for mitigating environmental and social challenges cities face. Municipalities and non-governmental entities, among others, often set goals (e.g., tree planting or canopy targets) to support urban forests and their benefits. We focus on canopy goals and develop conceptual underpinnings for an analysis of where additional canopy, as one important dimension of the urban forest, can fit within the landscape, while considering factors that influence where trees can be planted and where canopy can grow-'practical canopy.' We apply this in New York City (NYC) to inform the setting of a canopy goal by the NYC Urban Forest Task Force (UFTF) for the NYC Urban Forest Agenda, which may trigger a virtuous cycle that supports the urban forest there. We further develop framing for a 'priority canopy' analysis to understand where urban forest expansion should be prioritized given more context (e.g., environmental hazards, local preferences), which can inform how expansion of the urban forest is achieved. We estimate an opportunity for 15,899 ha of new canopy in NYC given existing opportunities and constraints (practical canopy), which, if leveraged, could result in nearly doubling the canopy as of 2017 (17,253 ha). However, like existing canopy, practical canopy is not evenly distributed, in general, or across jurisdictions and land uses. Relying solely on areas identified as practical canopy to expand the urban forest would exacerbate inequities in its distribution. We discuss how the NYC UFTF established an aspirational but achievable goal of 30% canopy cover by 2035, which was informed by this analysis and guided by priorities of equity, health, and resilience. Achievement of this goal will ultimately require a combination of protecting and stewarding the existing resource, and leveraging opportunities for tree planting. Achieving a more equitable urban forest will also require identification of priority canopy, and, in cases, creation of new opportunities for tree planting and canopy expansion. Overall, the collaborative establishment of such goals based on local context can be instrumental in creating a virtuous cycle, moving conservation actors toward exercising influence and agency within the social ecological system.
... The impact of land use changes in urban planning has become a focal point of scientific interest since different land use types show different degrees of threats to the communities and ecosystems [1,2]. Industrial land use is known as the areas which are used for manufacturing or processing that can be zoned as light, medium or heavy industry [3]. According to the land surface characteristics, industrial areas can be divided into three major land use types as brownfields (abandoned or under-utilized industrial areas due to the presence of land contamination), existing industrial lands (areas that consists of considerably larger paved landscapes), and mixed land use of brownfields and are Kiwinana (Western Australia), Gladstone (Queensland) and Geelong (Victoria) [21]. ...
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In urbanized lands, industrial areas are generally located close to residential and commercial areas due to ease of access for material and human resources. These industrial areas annually discharge large volumes of contaminated stormwater to receiving waters. Green Infrastructure (GI) practices, which were initially introduced as a land conservation strategy to enhance green space in urban areas, can provide benefits in source control of runoff generated in industrial areas with higher percentage of impermeable surfaces. Even though industrial areas across the world are currently looking at the applications of GI to reduce the impacts of excessive runoff and mitigate flash floods, several debates exist in optimization of these practices for such areas. In the current practice, optimal selection of GI practices for such areas are generally conducted based on expert judgement, and there are no systematic methodologies currently available for this process. This paper presents a review on various issues, challenges, and opportunities in the optimum applications of GI practices for industrial areas. The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis conducted in this review by focusing on the applications of GI practices for industrial areas, helped to identify the existing research gaps for the optimization. Furthermore, the review showed the importance of engaging the multi-disciplinary stakeholders in the GI optimization process for industrial areas. In conclusion, the present review highlights the importance of introducing a systematic methodology for the optimum applications of GI practices for industrial areas to manage stormwater.
... 36 Nevertheless, the formation of a vibrant migrant civil society comprised of community organizations, workers' centers, churches and faith-based organizations, and hometown associations provides the critical "free spaces" necessary for forming collective identities and "shared analyses of sociopolitical problems" (Theodore and Martin 2007, 271). Sunset Park's Latino and Chinese community leadership recognized the potential strength of their coalition in refocusing the zoning debate on procedural equity and equality in outcomes (Maantay 2002). The shared experiences of marginalization in established political venues including the community board, high rates of working poverty and rentership, and the prospect of residential displacement formed the basis for a Latino-Asian coalition. ...
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New York City is the quintessential immigrant gateway, and its transformation to a majority "minority" city is evident in the complex demography of its numerous neighborhoods. Based on detailed case studies of two neighborhoods undergoing significant development pressures that pose a dramatic reshaping of community life, this article examines whether New York City community boards serve as a "pivotal" public arena to mitigate racial tensions and meaningfully engage diverse stakeholders including immigrants in neighborhood planning. The case studies of Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens demonstrate that community boards do not necessarily engage all stakeholders in meaningful or sustained ways and are limited in advancing race relations in a challenging socioeconomic context. This article substantiates how community-based nonprofit organizations are essential to the institutional landscape of immigrant neighborhoods by engaging multiple publics in community planning.
... 32 Nevertheless, the formation of a vibrant migrant civil society comprised of community organizations, workers centers, churches and faith-based organizations, and hometown associations provide the critical "free spaces" necessary for forming collective identities and "shared analyses of sociopolitical problems" (Theodore and Martin 2007, 271). Sunset Park's Latino and Chinese community leadership recognized the potential strength of their coalition in refocusing the zoning debate on procedural equity and equality in outcomes (Maantay 2002). The shared experiences of marginalization in established political venues including the community board, high rates of working poverty and rentership, and the prospect of residential displacement formed the basis for a Latino-Asian coalition. ...
Green Gentrification looks at the social consequences of urban "greening" from an environmental justice and sustainable development perspective. Through a comparative examination of five cases of urban greening in Brooklyn, New York, it demonstrates that such initiatives, while positive for the environment, tend to increase inequality and thus undermine the social pillar of sustainable development. Although greening is ostensibly intended to improve environmental conditions in neighborhoods, it generates green gentrification that pushes out the working-class, and people of color, and attracts white, wealthier in-migrants. Simply put, urban greening "richens and whitens," remaking the city for the sustainability class. Without equity-oriented public policy intervention, urban greening is negatively redistributive in global cities. This book argues that environmental injustice outcomes are not inevitable. Early public policy interventions aimed at neighborhood stabilization can create more just sustainability outcomes. It highlights the negative social consequences of green growth coalition efforts to green the global city, and suggests policy choices to address them. The book applies the lessons learned from green gentrification in Brooklyn to urban greening initiatives globally. It offers comparison with other greening global cities. This is a timely and original book for all those studying environmental justice, urban planning, environmental sociology, and sustainable development as well as urban environmental activists, city planners and policy makers interested in issues of urban greening and gentrification.
This essay uses an anthropological approach to explore persistent stumbling blocks to environmental justice and their consequences for community health. In particular, environmental risk assessment methodologies exclude the multiple exposures and vulnerabilities of poor people and people of color and obscure the links between toxic chemicals and local health problems. In turn, corporate polluters take advantage of risk uncertainty and use discourses of ?corporate responsibility? to offer local residents partial accommodations in exchange for community quiescence and acceptance. I argue that in a postindustrial era of job scarcity, these practices amount to a new form of ?job blackmail.? Drawing on my own research, I then extend these findings to include government entities, which use public programs to incentivize private investors to clean and redevelop contaminated properties. Such programs link remediation to redevelopment and private investment, and prioritize economic interests while glossing over issues of public health. Here, promises of neighborhood revitalization and economic mobility are offered in exchange for risk acceptance. Yet, my research shows that local residents challenged neoliberal ideas that redevelopment was a cure-all for urban ills and instead asserted their own environmental health and justice priorities.
This article examines the disproportionate impact of environmental pollution on racial minorities, analyzes competing explanations for it, and explores the effects of differing modes of power on the development of this issue in the policy process. Looking back over the last quarter century, the author traces the emergence of racial environmental equity as a public policy question and poses numerous issues yet to be resolved.
This book is a study in depth of the United States Supreme Court's decisionsin the Restrictive Covenant Cases. The decisions were of far-reaching legal. socialand political importance and fully deserve the extended consideration here undertaken.
The Dutch development of Integrated Environmental Zoning is an advanced effort to account cumulatively for several environmental spillovers from manufacturing, and to manage their impacts on surrounding residential areas. This national policy initiative involves mapping the spatial patterns of pollution within urban areas, information that informs the development of abatement programs and of land-use regulations to locate manufacturing activities and housing in a sustainable manner. In eleven pilot projects testing this system, it has met with enthusiasm but also aroused public concern over identified cases of acute pollution, and political controversy over the required mitigation measures.
A case study is presented of the use of GIS in environmental equity concerning the distribution of pollution according to race and income. The location is in Los Angeles County, California, US. Data sources are described and exploratory data analysis and bivariate mapping undertaken. Statistical analysis is used to develop a predictive model. -after Author
Objective. The "environmental justice" movement has suggested that demographic inequities characterize the location of hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs). While some researchers have found evidence that TSDFs are disproportionately located in minority areas, others attribute TSDF location to nonracial factors such as income and industrial employment. Methods. We used both univariate and multivariate techniques to analyze the location of TSDFs in Los Angeles County, California; the focus on one county allowed us to overcome the problem of "false" addresses for TSDF sites and to introduce specific land use/zoning variables that are not used in the other studies. Results. In our univariate results and the multivariate model, we find that (1) industrial land use and manufacturing employment do matter, as suggested by critics of environmental justice; (2) income has first a positive, then a negative effect on TSDF location, a pattern that likely reflects the fact that the poorest communities have little economic activity while wealthier communities have the economic and political power to resist negative environmental externalities; and (3) race and ethnicity are still significantly associated with TSDF location, even when percentage African American and percentage Latino are evaluated as separate groupings. Taken together, the results suggest that communities most affected by TSDFs in the Los Angeles area are working-class communities of color located near industrial areas.
At Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have been studying the relative potential for exposure of minority population groups to substandard outdoor air quality. The studies have focused on areas identified by EPA as failing to attain national ambient air quality standards. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA has established standards for ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, and particulate matter and annually identifies areas having excess levels of these pollutants. These so-called nonattainment areas generally consist of counties of many square miles, and residents' exposure to air pollution surely varies depending on where individuals live and work within an area. Nevertheless, the racial and socio-economic makeup of the population in these areas can imply differences in potential exposure to pollutants and may suggest directions for research and remedial action. So far, scientists have examined these differences for African Americans, Hispanics, and whites (non-Hispanic).