Conversations on Urban Planning, Pandemic, and Race
In June 2020, the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute launched a discussion series to address issues of land use, race, and equity. Beginning with the history of redlining and the role of zoning and land use to perpetuate segregation and discrimination in our society, the Ideas RoundUP convened approximately one hundred people every two weeks to consider a variety of issues through a racial equity lens: community engagement, transportation, housing, access to greenspace, and health. These discussions featured experts chosen to provide a factual context for each of the topics, followed by facilitated breakout sessions that allowed participants to focus in on policy suggestions or ideas that might help address existing inequities. A group of DU students analyzed the breakout notes and content from the series to identify themes and suggestions that deserve further research or development.
Below, you will find videos, presentations, and resources for each episode in the series.
Race, Equity & Land Use
The first Ideas RoundUP on Race, Equity, and Land Use provides background on the history of racism in our land development system with presentations by. Tom Romero, Professor of Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law; Erin Clark, Vice President at Urban Land Conservancy; and Dwight Merriam, Attorney at Law.
Romero, Tom: Colorful Colorblind Denver
Civic Engagement & Public Participation
Civic Engagement & Public Participation we looked at making public forums more inclusive and our land use decisions more equitable. Presentations were provided by Stephen Miller, Professor of Law at the University of Idaho and Jamila Jefferson-Jones, Professor of Law at the University of Missouri.
Zoning & Racial Bias
In this discussion, we looked at our land development codes (zoning) and how they can be improved to promote equity and to overcome the racial bias that is baked into local zoning laws. The presentation was provided by Anika Singh Lemar, Associate Professor at Yale Law School.
Singh Lemar, Anika: Racial Bias & Zoning
Housing, Part One
After several weeks of discussion about racial bias in our land use system, it became clear that housing policy is where racism is most embedded. Because this topic is important and complex, we have devoted two sessions to it.
Part one of our conversation on housing covered the basics about affordable housing: how we define it, why we need it, why there isn’t enough of it, and why it’s so expensive. Heidi Aggeler of Root Policy Research and Brian Connolly of Otten Johnson Robinson Neff + Ragonetti presented on these basics and also covered the Fair Housing Act and how government has tried to address bias in our housing system.
Housing Access & Racial Equity, Part Two
In Part Two of our discussion on housing, the focus was on government interventions that are intended to overcome the market’s failure to provide enough affordable housing. Heidi Aggeler of Root Policy Research and Brian Connolly of Otten Johnson Robinson Neff + Ragonetti reprised their roles as presenters and gave some background on the Fair Housing Act and on the role of government in addressing housing needs in their communities.
Mobility is important for people to be able to access opportunities and necessities like jobs, education, food, and housing. In this session, we will discuss the regulatory framework and observed biases in transportation, then share issues, perspectives, and potential policies and practices to address them. Christof Spieler, Vice President and Director of Planning at Huitt-Zollars, and Bakeyah Nelson, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston, will present.
Open Space, Race, and Equity
Public spaces are important for promoting physical activity, mental well-being, and creating a sense of community. However, while parks and other public spaces are meant to be open to all, not all feel welcome. This session explored the racial and social constructs that influence how these spaces are created and used.
Urban planning is strongly rooted in public health. We know that the decisions we make about how we use our land impacts the health and welfare of those who live there. We also know that the placement of certain uses (like industry and freeways) or the lack of certain items (sidewalks and parks) is more likely to happen in and near minority communities. This session will examine the implications of these decisions and consider ways we can make more equitable choices in the future.
Roundup of the RoundUP
In our final episode, we recap our conversations throughout the series and share some of the key takeaways from our discussions, as well as discuss what's next.
Read the final report on the Ideas RoundUP series, compiled by University of Denver graduate students.