2018 National Planning Conference

BETTMAN SESSION: Equity in Zoning: More Than Words

Monday, April 15, 2019 from 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. PDT

CM | 1.50
L | 1.50

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198231

Location: 3020

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  • How the U.S. legal system constrains local government ability to focus equitable planning outcomes, and instead focuses on equitable planning procedures.
  • How some forms of inequity are supported by traditional zoning controls, and how removing or modifying those tools can produce more equitable land use outcomes.
  • How city and county governments are working around legal barriers to encourage greater income, job, and neighborhood equity through zoning and land use regulations and incentives.


The long and sustained recovery from the Great Recession has produced both economic growth but increasing income, job, and housing disparities across the United States. In many communities, this has resulted in calls for increased equity in planning and zoning, and for more stronger tools to ensure that the impacts of local land use decisions on poor and disadvantaged populations are minimized or mitigated. To date, much of the conversation has focused on the need for more inclusive participation in planning procedures, but that will not be enough. History shows that even when people of color, the less able, and the poor are included, their needs are often not addressed. This panel of attorneys, planners, and lawyers will discuss how different U.S. states and cities have adopted zoning or land use regulations or incentives that try to embed greater concern for equity into everyday land use governance. In addition, the panel will discuss legal principles and cases that make it so difficult for American communities to change from a focus on equitable procedures to a focus on equitable outcomes.


This session qualifies for 1.5 Law CM.

This course is approved for 1.50 Illinois MCLE general credit hours.

Pre-session materials for attendees to review:

Additional Written Materials - Equity in Zoning Panel

Session Speakers

Donald L. Elliott, FAICP
Clarion Associates of Colorado
Denver, CO

Elizabeth A. Garvin, AICP
Community ReCode
Denver, CO

Andrea Ruiz-Esquide
San Francisco City Attorney's Office
Piedmont, CA

Deborah M. Rosenthal, FAICP
FitzGerald, Yap, & Kreditor
Irvine, CA