Connecticut’s Planning and Development Committee — a joint standing committee of the Connecticut General Assembly, which contains members of the senate and house — held a public hearing to discuss Senate Bill 1024, a sweeping statewide zoning bill aimed at lowering housing costs, increasing supply, and reducing sprawl.
The bill is thanks to one organization: Desegregate CT, a coalition of nonprofits and community members that formed in the wake of this summer’s protest movement to desegregate the state. The founder is Sara Bronin, a Hartford-based architect, attorney, professor and policymaker who saw, throughout her work, how zoning upheld segregated land use, with one-family lots making up wealthy, white neighborhoods and denser housing concentrated in lower-income urban areas. “We started public conversations about what zoning could do for our state,” she notes. “One of the questions we constantly got asked is, what is zoning like in our town?”
The result, which contributed to organizing around Senate Bill 1024 and will remain a crucial tool for Desegregate CT, is the team’s Zoning Atlas. It’s a first-in-the-nation interactive map showing how all 2,620 zoning districts and two subdivision districts in Connecticut treat housing — a massive undertaking that required a collaborative team to read, analyze and map 32,378 pages of regulations. “The Zoning Atlas is intended to be a resource for people to understand how their community is zoned and how it compares with other communities,” Bronin says, “and use that information to help promote change both within their communities and across the state.”