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Montgomery County to Introduce Bill Requiring Racial Equity in Planning

by Nena Perry-Brown

DC is not the only local jurisdiction exploring legislation to incorporate racial equity into its policymaking.

The Montgomery County Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee is holding a hearing Monday morning on land use and racial equity. The county's Planning Department has been working on an Equity Agenda for Planning over the past 18 months and will be introducing a draft agenda at today's hearing.

"This work recognizes and builds on a long history of land use decisions in Montgomery County that have - in the days of de jure racial discrimination in zoning - created exclusionary neighborhoods and - in more recent years - have attempted to provide a greater number of housing opportunities for a diverse group of residents," the introduction explains.

Here are some of the strategies the planning department has already begun implementing:

  • Increasing outreach to underrepresented communities during planning processes, using bilingual presentation materials and outreaches via public transit and places of worship;
  • Increasing focus on affordable housing, as seen with the county's Rental Housing Study and the recent bill to encourage production of accessory dwelling units;
  • Bolstering the Historic Preservation team's efforts to catalogue and commemorate communities and sites important to Black history;
  • Preparing for a study of how to preserve shopping centers which cater to various ethnic groups; and
  • Requiring the Parks Department to take an equitable approach to capital improvements.

Today's hearing comes a day before the Racial Equity and Social Justice Act (Bill 27-19) is expected to be introduced in the County Council. Among other things, this bill would establish both an Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice and a Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee, while requiring all departments to develop a plan for racial equity and social justice, and the Planning Board to consider those factors when developing any Master Plan. The Council will hold a hearing on this bill on October 22nd.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/montgomery-county-to-introduce-bill-requiring-racial-equity-in-planning/15885

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