Zoning, Land Use, and Local Policies for Environmental Justice

Zoning Practice — March 2021

By Ana Baptista


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Zoning codes and land-use planning practices have historically had the effect of hardening disparities and expressing forms of racism sedimented in the built environment. These codes and practices are often at the center of fierce land-use conflicts that pit neighborhoods with higher percentages of residents of color and low-income households against polluting industries and the cities and counties that permit them.

This issue of Zoning Practice reviews the relationships among zoning, land use, and environmental justice. It highlights local strategies that illustrate the diversity of approaches cities and counties across the country are using to protect traditionally overburdened areas from noxious land uses.


Page Count
Date Published
March 1, 2021
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Ana Baptista
Ana is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and the Chair of the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management program in the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at the New School university. Ana also serves as the Associate Director for the Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School. She was most previously the Director of the Energy and Environment Program at the Regional Plan Association. Prior to RPA, Ana was the Director of Environmental Justice and Planning programs for the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) for over seven years. At ICC she oversaw a wide range of environmental justice, community development and community based planning and research projects in her native Ironbound community in Newark, New Jersey. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for ICC. Ana completed her Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey where she studied state level environmental justice policy implementation across the country. She received her MA degree from Brown University in Environmental Studies and has an undergraduate degree in Environmental & Evolutionary Biology as well as Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College. Ana was a 2013 Gustav Heningburg Civic Fellow and a 2005 National Environmental Leadership Fellow. She is a member of the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance and a Steering Committee member of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance and the Coalition for Healthy Ports.