Anika Singh Lemar Warns of “Zoning Creep” by Owner-Occupancy Requirements

Anika Singh Lemar (’05), Yale Law School Clinical Professor of Law and Nonresident Senior Fellow - Brookings Metro, authored an article for the Brookings Institution’s The Avenue citing owner-occupancy requirements as one example of “zoning creep” (applying zoning outside its designated purview), pointing to their impact on housing supply and affordability (“How Owner-Occupancy Regulations Are Contributing to the Housing Crisis,” Oct. 27). “In case law, most courts acknowledge that zoning governs use, not ownership. Nevertheless, courts defer to towns’ allegations that owner-occupants are better stewards of property. So long as courts refuse to interrogate the nexus between a zoning ordinance’s claimed purpose and its actual effect, there will be no judicial remedy for zoning creep. Thankfully, courts in New Jersey and North Carolina have shown a way forward—one that courts in other states ought to emulate.”