Deseg Group Releases Zoning Atlas To Address Housing Inequities

News release from DesegregateCT:

Earlier today, DesegregateCT released its groundbreaking “Zoning Atlas,” which allows the general public to explore land use regulations governing housing in each of Connecticut’s 2,616 zoning districts and in the 2 towns with subdivision regulations. This ambitious and extensive project–completed in just 4 months–is the first of its kind nationwide.

“Zoning affects our lives, our economy, and even the structure of our society in important and often overlooked ways,” said Professor Sara Bronin, founder of DesegregateCT and lead researcher on this project. “With the Zoning Atlas, we can now visualize how zoning reform can boost our economy, protect our environment, and make Connecticut more equitable.”

“The Zoning Atlas will be a tool for planners, policymakers, advocates, and neighbors alike,” stated Rebecca Augur, President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association.  “We are looking forward to using it to help the people we serve make informed decisions about housing options in their communities.”

“We were pleased to support the creation of the interface that is bringing the data collected by the DesegregateCT team to the public,” said Maryam Elahi, President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. “This project will help people understand the impacts of zoning on their communities.”

Key findings from the Zoning Atlas include:

— Housing allowed by right (as % of state land): 90.6% 1-family; 28.5% 2-family; 2.3% 3-family; 2.0% 4+ family

— Housing allowed by right (as % of “Primarily Residential Zones”): 99.4% 1-family; 67.4% of land allows 1-family only

— 8 towns allow only 1-family housing

— 5 towns allow 2/3/4+-family housing on 2.2% or less of land in the town

— Small towns (<7,500 people) have 40% of land on average zoned for 2-family housing, but only 0.21% and 0.68% of land zoned for 3-family and 4-family housing by right

— Larger cities (>40,000 people) have 15.84% of land on average zoned for 2-family housing, 12.6% zoned for 3-family housing, and 9.16% zoned for 4-family housing by right

— Accessory dwelling units (smaller units of land located on the same parcel as a single-family dwelling):
— 101 towns allow accessory dwelling units by right
— 65% of land allows accessory units by right
— However, they often have stringent zoning regulations that make them difficult to be approved.

The Zoning Atlas was made from:

— Information from 178 zoning jurisdictions and 2 subdivision jurisdictions in all 169 CT municipalities

— Analysis of 32,378 pages of zoning code

— GIS layers of 2,403 districts

— 3,099,091 zoned acres

DesegregateCT has offered legislative proposals aimed at increasing and diversifying Connecticut’s housing stock. These proposals include allowing accessory dwelling units, reducing parking mandates, requiring training for local commissioners, and promoting housing near main streets and public transit.

The research team collected extensive data on a variety of other measures, including minimum lot sizes, parking requirements, and maximum density, which will be released in future reports.  Additional research that is not featured in the public interface of the Zoning Atlas will be produced by Professor Bronin in the coming weeks.

The full Zoning Atlas can be found at:


One comment

  1. This is absolutely amazing work. I stumbled across Desegregate CT during my State Rep run, as tackling exclusionary zoning was a focus of mine. As a planner and economic development advisor, I think it’s only recently people understand the power of zoning and how it shapes neighborhoods. I’m looking forward to taking a deeper dive into their work.

    The problem is the governor’s office does not want to tackle this and left to their own vices, these towns especially in Fairfield County are not going to do us any favors. The burden and costs of providing housing for all is hurting big cities. What people in exclusionary towns don’t get is “affordable housing” is based on the market.

    For example, in Darien, an affordable apartment could be $1800/mo. Doesn’t sound affordable, but for someone doing ok in BPT and wanting a better quallity of life, they will leave a $1400/mo apt in Bridgdeport for the Darien option. The apartment they vacated allows someone new to come into that housing. That could be someone that was paying $1100 in a lower priced neighborhood. Now that rental frees up and people with lower incomes end up in the lower priced rental unit where they originally could not find a space.

    That cycle described above is what creates housing options for all. To not have the option of the higher end $1800/mo apartment is the problem. Having options is the definition of social equity. We need our neighborhing towns to contribute to the solution.


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