Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Should land use law work to preserve the “character” of a community because of the special characteristics of its residents? This new AP story discusses the phenomenon of city neighborhoods that were formerly gay and lesbian enclaves, but which today are being infiltrated by more and more straight people. The result, from one perspective, is the loss of an identifiable and special “place,” such as San Francisco’s famous Castro district.
For decades, gay people have been at the forefront of rebuilding many urban neighborhoods, including many sectors from which middle-class families had decamped to the suburbs. Unencumbered by children and supportive of the urban lifestyle of patronizing city stops such as coffee shops, art galleries, and theaters, gays and lesbians made great urban “pioneers.” But with city-living back “in” among more straight people, some traditionally gay neighborhoods are losing their special character.
Here’s a tough question: Just as some jurisdictions limit the number of bedrooms in apartment units so as to limit the number of school-demanding children, should a government consider the request of gay leaders to limit the number of family-friendly housing units, as a means of trying to preserve the gay character of a community?