Open Communities Alliance, a housing advocacy group, is calling on the affluent suburb of Woodbridge to amend its zoning code to allow for multifamily housing in most every residential district in town. The request for a zoning amendment accompanies the group’s application to build a four-unit residential building on 1.5 acres in a single-family zone; two of the units would be reserved for low-income renters.
“We’re here today to open Woodbridge,” declared Erin Boggs, the alliance’s executive director, at the first public hearing last November on the application before the planning and zoning commission.
The heightened calls for zoning reform in Connecticut align with momentum behind the issue nationally, particularly in the states of Oregon, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey, said Noah Kazis, a legal fellow at New York University’s Furman Center. Lagging housing production has exacerbated the affordability crisis in the Northeast, while an abundance of scholarship has shed increasing light on the impacts of “a century of evermore restrictive zoning at the local level,” he said.
Add to that the national focus on law enforcement abuse following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, and the racial inequities brought into stark relief by the pandemic, and you have a “window of opportunity” for meaningful reform, Ms. Boggs said.
“This is a moment that we need to seize,” she said. “But it’s really only the beginning of a concerted effort to make some changes that, hopefully, will have some wider support.”
A Push for Zoning Reform in Connecticut, Lisa Prevost, New York Times, Feb. 26th, 2021, available here