Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 25, 2021

City of Berkeley, CA Joins Others in Eliminating Single Family Zoning

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously this week to eliminating single family zoning, citing its historical use as a form of exclusionary zoning. See also, Berkeley to eliminate single-family zoning, cites racist ties (


  1. You aren’t going to find many more avid advocates of affordable housing and opponents of exclusionary zoning than I, but Berkeley is acting in haste, unaware of the unintended consequences of its decision and how effective (or ineffective) these actions have been to reduce housing segregation in Minneapolis. They would be prudent to wait a bit longer and see how similar zoning changes work out in Minneapolis. My strong suspicion is that it won’t reduce racial and economic segregation much, if at all, because (1) you’re going to get very expensive three flats built that are still beyond the means of nearly all households with modest incomes, and (2) allowing small multifamily buildings in single-family districts does not address the primary causes of housing segregation, namely continued racial steering, discrimination in mortgage lending, etc.
    In the Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice we’ve conducted, we’ve consistently found far fewer Black households living in well-off single-family neighborhoods in communities like Berkeley than you would expect in the absence of housing discrimination. In other words, even Black households that can afford housing in the single-family neighborhoods in these towns are not moving to them. Eliminating single-family zoning does not address those barriers. Sadly it sounds like once again Berkeley is acting on political philosophy rather than careful reasoning.

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