Protecting Historically Disadvantaged and Vulnerable Neighborhoods and Business Districts

Zoning Practice — August 2023

By Darcie White, AICP


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Establishing protective measures for historically disadvantaged and vulnerable neighborhoods and business districts requires a proactive, community-based approach. APA's Equity in Zoning Policy Guide acknowledges that some of the most common zoning strategies used to increase access to attainable housing and services and support public investments in transit can help spur market pressure for redevelopment that, in turn, may result in displacement of long-time residents and businesses in historically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.

These strategies include amending base zoning districts or establishing new residential and mixed-use zoning districts to allow for higher densities, a broader range of residential types, and more diverse uses. Unfortunately, broad recognition of the need to "save" or establish protections for neighborhoods and businesses that serve historically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities often comes when they are threatened by demolition or — in the case of a neighborhood — have largely been lost.

This issue of Zoning Practice is the first in series exploring recommendations provided by the Equity in Zoning Policy Guide in more detail. It outlines clear steps those who write, administer, and enforce zoning regulations can take to proactively protect historically disadvantaged and vulnerable neighborhoods and business districts. Specifically, it reviews the defining characteristics of these areas, highlights documentation strategies, and explores regulatory tools.


Page Count
Date Published
Aug. 1, 2023
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Darcie White, AICP
Darcie White, AICP, is a Director with Clarion Associates, based in Denver, Colorado. She is a planner and landscape architect with over 20 years of professional experience. She has been involved in planning and plan implementation efforts for local, regional, and non-profit agencies across the country. Ms. White specializes in comprehensive planning for small and mid-sized communities, and has extensive experience developing plans and policies to support sustainable and resilient communities.