A Brief History of Setbacks

Kenneth Jackson states: "In actuality zoning was a device to keep poor people and obnoxious industries out of affluent areas. And in time, it also became a cudgel used by suburban areas to whack the central city. Advocates of land-use restrictions in overwhelming proportion were residents of the fringe. They sought through minimum lot and set-back requirements to insure that only members of acceptable social classes could settle in their privileged sanctuaries. Southern cities even used zoning to enforce racial segregation. And in suburbs everywhere, North and South, zoning was used by the people who already lived within the arbitrary boundaries of a community as a method of keeping everyone else out. Apartments, factories and “blight,” euphemisms for black and people of limited means, were rigidly excluded.

This is why SANE supports getting rid of single family (SF) zoning requirements, minimum lot sizes, and reduce restrictions on setbacks. We support allowing anyone on a single family lot to build or convert up to four units. SF zoning, minimum lot sizes, and setbacks were originally implemented to exclude and discriminate and there isn’t any use for them now.

A Brief History of Setbacks

Previously, I've talked about how setbacks encourage land consolidation. Today I want to take a moment to look into the history of where setbacks came from. Before technology allowed the working person to affordably and comfortably travel long distances every day, commuting took place on foot, and the rich and poor were forced to live among one another.