Because of growing white supremacy, concentrated land ownership, and the pandemic, it’s becoming increasingly clear that land use and zoning laws have been used as weapons of cultural genocide and violence against communities of color. Humans interact with land in so many ways: for home, livelihood, gathering, food, ceremony. In residential neighborhoods of Oakland, for example, people have always had home-based community gatherings, enterprises, and other activities that are not allowed by zoning laws. The pandemic has made this even more common. Community-gathering and economic activities of BIPOC and low-income communities are particularly forced to the margins due to lack of access to affordable land. The policing of land uses – and targeting of particular communities – has resulted in acts of violent enforcement.
In this lunch discussion, we’ll hear from former Oakland Councilperson, Wilson Riles, land use attorney, Christopher Chou, and Law Center staff Dorian Payan and Janelle Orsi about problems and possibilities related to land use. Then we’ll invite discussion on questions like: What would it look like to liberate land use? How might we restore and support more natural relationships between people and land? What are the risks of changing zoning laws? What are other problems we must consider? How do we address predatory enforcement practices? What are promising models that we’ve seen?
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