Recap: ZONED OUT @ VAGHC 2022

Experts discussed zoning and housing affordability at the 2022 Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference.

This year’s Governor’s Housing Conference in Arlington was filled with interesting sessions and insightful speakers. As a kick-off to the conference, HousingForward Virginia hosted a panel to introduce our new statewide zoning initiative that will begin early next year. The panel, titled “ZONED OUT,” was hosted by HousingForward Board member Shernita Bethea of the Hampton Roads PDC and included a range of speakers who each discussed the impacts of zoning on their jobs and communities. All panelists’ slides and a recording of the event are available on our website.

Eleanor Vincent, Pathway Homes

Eleanor discussed the impact zoning and NIMBYism has upon her work to house and support our most vulnerable populations– “Zoning acts as a new form of redlining.” 

Maritza Pechin, City of Richmond

Maritza discussed her work with the Richmond 300 Master Plan and how ongoing zoning changes will help the City address the needs of a growing population, including allowing ADU’s by right.

Hannah Sabo, City of Virginia Beach

Hannah helped us get into the nitty gritty of zoning, and how small tweaks to zoning ordinances can help create more gentle density in existing single-family neighborhoods.

Jim Russell, Rust Belt Analytica

Jim offered a unique perspective as a geographer, explaining how a short-sighted lens on population changes and regional impacts on housing demand visible through zoning has failed to react to our modern realities. 

Jodi Dubyoski, FORM Coalition

As an architect and designer, Jodi shared how she has creatively tackled zoning challenges for new developments in her work across the country. –“People find a way to expand homes for renters and kids, even if zoning doesn’t.”

Zoning has dictated the fabric of our communities for nearly 100 years. Unfortunately for us, many of these regulations were written without affordability or opportunity in mind. In fact, our zoning rules were often written explicitly to exclude Black and lower-income households from better housing opportunities. 

We’ve been happy to see and be part of the growing recognition of this history and its continuing impacts. Today, local ordinances still determine the type, amount, and location of the homes we build. As a result, zoning can limit—or expand—our ability to create diverse housing opportunities to meet the needs of all Virginians. ZONED OUT was a great kick-off to the work we will begin next year, and we look forward to continuing the conversation about zoning reform and zoning education in your locality.

Support this ambitious work today by donating to HousingForward Virginia.

Next year, let’s get ZONED IN.

Questions about ZONED IN? Interested in sponsoring the initiative? Want to volunteer for the Virginia Zoning Atlas? Let us know.

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