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June 29, 2022  

State Preemption: A Means To Reform Zoning, or a Threat to Localism?

June 29, 2022

A recent Governing article, “The Bad Things That Happen When States Tell Cities What to Do,” features an interview with University of Virginia law professor Richard Schragger on his book, City Power: Urban Governance in a Global Age.

One of the major things Schragger’s book argues against is state preemption—ad in general, Schragger is interested in re-articulating the appropriate constitutional relationship between cities and states. He’s also expressed skepticism about regionalism as a viable strategy for equalizing the resources between cities and suburbs.

So, Schragger’s view is that state and federal land use interventions are typically disastrous—citing urban renewal and the Mount Laurel doctrine as examples. His concern is that state preemption will be used to override local opposition in a way that promotes market-rate developers at the expense of low-income urban neighborhoods, and that local reform to zoning needs to be driven by affordable housing coalitions and activists at the local level.

State preemption is a controversial issue in the planning world, and one can’t make a blanket statement on whether it’s good or bad. Nevertheless, on today’s episode of Upzoned, host Abby Kinney and co-host Chuck Marohn talk about whether or not there is a Strong Towns stance on the subject of state preemption.

Additional Show Notes