UC Berkeley study: CA residential landscape potentially resorts to racial, economic inequality

(KRON) — According to researchers at the University of California Berkeley, 95.8% of all residential land in California is reserved for single-family housing, potentially creating an obstacle to racial and economic equality in the state, the six-year investigation released on Wednesday said.

That 95.8% figure includes both incorporated and unincorporated regions in the state. When excluding unincorporated regions, the figure drops to 82%. Despite the decrease, that is still over 20% more than the US average of 63%, according to Statista.

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So what exactly does this mean? As single-family homes are generally more expensive than multi-family homes, such as apartments and condominiums, researchers fear that California’s residential landscape could be one of the reasons behind the state’s housing shortage or, worse, could contribute to economic and racial inequality.

According to the study, California’s population is roughly 35% white, 39% Latino, 15% Asian, 5% black, and 0.74% Native American. Yet, the percentage of white residents rises above 55% when single-family house rates increase to 99%.

Single-Family Zoning and Racial Composition
Photo Courtesy: UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institue

Not only do white residents disproportionately take up the majority of single-family homes, but as the percentage of single-family homes increases, the percentage of Latinos dramatically decreases, too. According to the study, Los Angeles is also facing very similar percentages.

Researchers say this not only highlights rates of racial inequality but could potentially highlight rates of racial segregation as well. “Specifically, it indicates that cities with a low to moderate or very high percentage of single-family-only zoning diverge more from the region as a whole in terms of their racial proportions, suggesting a higher degree of inter-municipal racial residential segregation in these communities,” the study said.

This is the first study to analyze single-family zoning in California as a whole. It maps the zoning of every jurisdiction in the state, covering 473 municipalities and 46 unincorporated jurisdictions across California’s 58 counties.

The report identifies 45 cities across the state as strong candidates for zoning reform. The study named Danville one of the candidates in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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