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A video recording of CURS Faculty Fellow Andrew Whittemore’s talk on “Opposition to Housing in a Suburban County: Causes, Characteristics and Consequences” from October 16, 2019. Whittemore is introduced by CURS Interim Director Nichola Lowe. (Please note that Lowe is off microphone and sound quality improves when Whittemore begins his presentation at the 1:30 mark.)

A 15-minute talk followed by Q&A with CURS Faculty Fellow
Andrew Whittemore, AICP, assistant professor of city and regional planning at UNC-Chapel Hill

Opposition to Housing in a Suburban County: Causes, Characteristics and Consequences

Andrew Whittemore
Andrew Whittemore

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
12:30 to 1:15 p.m. in New East 211 on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Free! Bring your lunch. Drinks and dessert will be provided.


Public participation helps local officials understand the extent of impacts on residents and property owners adjacent to new developments. It is therefore problematic that, in the NIMBY literature and elsewhere, public participation in development processes has become associated with exclusionary zoning practices and their inequitable outcomes in the US.

This presentation will review a thirty-year survey of public comments and zoning outcomes in suburban Henrico County, Virginia. Whittemore found that public input regarding rezoning processes for new residential development, at least in suburban jurisdictions, focuses on potential negative impacts and largely ignores any positive contributions of new development. Increasing racial diversity had an especially strong relationship with the volume of opposition to rezonings for residential development. Zoning outcomes do focus on reduction of harm to property owners, but more often serve as vehicles for the preservation and even elevation of homeowners’ wealth by charging developers with producing the highest quality product that they can market. Thus, public participation can contribute to a zoning practice resembling wealth management more than necessary protection from harm, producing anything but the equitable outcomes many planners expect from a transparent and inclusive process.

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