Thursday, August 20, 2015
The use of land use planning, regulation, and law to discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities and low- and moderate-income people has a long history and many manifestations in the U.S. Among them are race-based zoning, exclusionary zoning, expulsive zoning, gentrification and displacement of residents through redevelopment, unequal provision of infrastructure, and inequities resulting from sprawl.
A significant body of literature on environmental justice is helpful to understanding the underlying issues of distributive, procedural, remedial, and social justice in land use. Environmental justice is about the fair treatment of all races, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic groups in environmental, natural resources, and land use policies and practices. Land use decisions in the United States have placed toxic chemicals, polluting facilities, and industrial land uses near and among low-income people and people of color. They have also produced inequitable patterns of – and access to – environmental goods and community infrastructure, such as parks, transit options, trees, well-functioning water and sewer systems, clean and vibrant riverfront areas and restored streams, affordable housing opportunities, recreational and civic facilities, and the like. At one time, low-income neighborhoods of color were the only places in some metropolitan areas that lacked paved roads and water and sewer services, a pattern that led some courts to find discriminatory intent by municipal officials just on the face of the disparate conditions (e.g., a Yick Wo type of analysis).
There are many environmental-justice books in other disciplines that are well worth reading. Some of my favorites are (alphabetical by author last name):
Spencer Banzhaf, The Political Economy of Environmental Justice (Stanford University Press 2012).
Ana Isabel Baptista, Just Policies? A Multiple Case Study of State Environmental Justice Policies (Proquest 2008).
Bunyan Bryant, ed. Environmental Justice: Issues, Policies, and Solutions (Island Press 1995).
Robert D. Bullard, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality (Westview Press 1990).
Robert D. Bullard, ed., Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots (South End Press 1993).
Robert D. Bullard, ed., Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color (Sierra Club Books 1994).
Robert D. Bullard, ed., The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution (Sierra Club Books 2005).
Robert D. Bullard, ed., Growing Smarter: Achieving Livable Communities, Environmental Justice, and Regional Equity (MIT Press 2007).
Robert D. Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson, and Angel O. Torres, Sprawl City: Race, Politics, and Planning in Atlanta (Island Press 2000).
Susan L. Cutter, Hazards, Vulnerabilities and Environmental Justice (Routledge 2012).
Daniel Faber, ed., The Struggle for Ecological Democracy: Environmental Justice Movements in the United States (Guilford Press 1998).
Susan S. Fainstein, The Just City (Cornell University Press 2010).
Howard Gillette, Jr., Between Justice and Beauty: Race, Planning, and the Failure of Urban Policy in Washington, D.C. (Johns Hopkins University Press 1995).
Ryan Holifield, Michael Porter, and Gordon Walker, Spaces of Environmental Justice (John Wiley & Sons 2011).
Kathryn M. Mutz, Garcy C. Bryner, and Douglas S. Kenney, Justice and Natural Resources: Concepts, Strategies, and Applications (Island Press 2002).
Laura Pulido, Environmentalism and Economic Justice: Two Chicano Struggles in the Southwest (University of Arizona Press 1996).
Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Environmental Justice : Creating Equity, Reclaiming Democracy: Creating Equity, Reclaiming Democracy (Oxford University Press 2002).
Thomas Sikor, The Justices and Injustices of Ecosystem Services (Routledge/Earthscan 2013).
Gerald R. Visgilio and Diana M. Whitelaw, Our Backyard: A Quest for Environmental Justice (Rowman & Littlefield 2003).
Gordon Walker, Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics (Routledge 2012).
Laura Westra and Bill E. Lawson, eds., Faces of Environmental Racism: Confronting Issues of Global Justice (Rowman & Littlefield 2001).
In addition to the above listed books, there are two books by legal scholars that take broadly interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental justice and would be excellent resources to begin exploring the concept of environmental justice, particularly as it relates to land use. One is by the late Luke W. Cole and Sheila R. Foster, who is co-directs the Urban Law Center at Fordham Law School: From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (NYU Press 2001). It is a classic in the field.
The other is a book that I wrote for the American Planning Association and its Planning Advisory Service Report series: Fair and Healthy Land Use: Environmental Justice and Planning (APA 2007 – it’s PAS Report No. 549/550). My Fair and Healthy Land Use book explores: what is environmental justice (ch. 1), environmental justice and land use (ch. 2), comprehensive planning and environmental justice, including key environmental justice planning principles (ch. 3), regulatory tools (ch. 4), community participation (ch. 5), the environmental impact assessment as a tool for implementing environmental justice (ch. 6), community infrastructure, housing, redevelopment, and brownfields (ch. 7), and constraints to incorporating environmental justice principles in land-use plans and controls (ch. 8). The book builds on my 1998 article “Planning Milagros: Environmental Justice and Land Use Regulation” in the Denver University Law Review, which included an extensive empirical study of zoning patterns, comparing low-income high-minority census tracts with high-income low-minority census tracts in 7 cities nationwide.
Coming Next: Ecosystem Services