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Have zoning laws 'broken' Kansas City? This author thinks so

A view of the Kansas City, Missouri skyline, looking north from Liberty Memorial.
Libby Hanssen
KCUR 89.3
Nolan Gray, a city planner based in California, says it is time for cities to scrap zoning, a position that has gained traction among urban planners in recent years.

Author and city planner Nolan Gray argues that places like Kansas City need to abolish zoning laws, which he blames for housing segregation and the lack of walkable neighborhoods. Gray is speaking Wednesday at the Kansas City Public Library's Plaza branch.

City planner Nolan Gray believes that zoning laws should be abolished outright.

Gray is the author of the book "Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It." He says that zoning laws in the U.S. have prevented housing affordability, caused segregation to persist and damaged the environment.

He also says zoning laws have contributed to cities developing car-dependent layouts instead of building walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.

"In many cases, that's explicitly written into law. Most jurisdictions to this day still have parking requirements, so, they say you're not allowed to build housing unless you have so many parking spaces," Gray told KCUR's Up To Date. "If you're driving on your typical corridors in any given suburb, right? You see these huge parking lots, in many cases, parking lots that aren't even full on Black Friday — the day you would expect demand to be highest."

Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It, 5:30 p.m. reception, 6 p.m. program, Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the Truman Auditorium at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64112.

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