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Montgomery County Bill Would Require Racial Impact Statements for Zoning Amendments

by Nena Perry-Brown

As Montgomery County continues efforts to implement a racial equity lens in its planning process, a new bill now sharpens the focus on zoning.

On Tuesday, County Councilmember Nancy Navarro introduced a bill that would require that any zoning text amendments include a statement from the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) on how the amendment would impact racial equity and social justice. With last year's passage of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Act, OLO is already required to submit racial and equity impact statements for bills. 

Over the past few years, discussion has increased around how zoning and land use policy further entrenches de facto housing segregation. Councilmember Navarro elaborated in a memo to the council:

"ZTAs have an impact on the community, of this there can be no doubt. They are also a large element of local governance and are an aspect of government which has historically been used to benefit certain groups of people while explicitly disadvantaging others. If we are to truly reform our structures and uplift historically underserved communities, then we must subject ZTAs to the same racial equity analysis that all other legislation will be undergoing."

The bill would also add two more public members to the Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee and enable the County Executive to form task forces to study these factors in specific cases and make recommendations.

All of the councilmembers co-sponsored the bill. A public hearing is scheduled for October 20th.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/montgomery-county-bill-would-require-racial-impact-statements-for-zoning-am/17350

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