Document the Need. The first step in getting an IZ policy adopted is to make the case for affordable housing. It's important to look at the big picture. Identify the low- and moderate- income residents in need of affordable housing. Can workers who provide important civic services (e.g., teachers, police, fireman) afford to live in the community? Can young parents find the housing they need? In documenting the need for affordable housing, quantitative data that illustrates an affordable housing gap is important.
Gather Partners . Build a coalition that supports inclusionary zoning as a viable strategy to achieve affordable housing goals. Include affordable housing advocates, employers whose workers can't afford to live in the area, labor unions, environmentalists who want to preserve open space, faith-based groups, and others impacted by high housing costs.
Develop A Proposal. Develop a document that outlines what should be included in an IZ policy. This can range from a bulleted list of key points, to a model ordinance or legislation. For examples of inclusionary zoning/housing ordinances and legislation, see the Resources page of this tool.
Build support. Circulate the document to community organizations, residents, elected officials, and planning commissions/departments. Proposals for statewide IZ should be presented to the departments of planning, redevelopment, and housing, as well as to elected officials and their staff.
Elected and Appointed Officials. Ultimately, elected or appointed officials (city, county, or state) adopt IZ policies. Establish good working relationships with public officials and their key staffers by having clear community goals and providing an analysis of the economic and social impacts of a proposed IZ policy. Build relationships with the planning department to garner support and technical assistance.
Residents, Nonprofit Developers, Community Organizations, and Labor Unions. Building a base of support for an IZ policy is critical. In addition to organizations and individuals committed to affordable housing, there are other natural allies for mounting an inclusionary zoning campaign. Environmentalists and smart growth advocates have been strong advocates of inclusionary zoning, since higher density developments create less sprawl and help preserve open space. Labor unions whose members identify affordable housing as a key need can lend significant political clout to an IZ campaign.
Developers and the Real Estate Community. In developing an IZ campaign, it is important to identify developers who potentially can support the initiative. Most communities can anticipate opposition to inclusionary zoning from developers and the larger real estate community. The Home Builders' Association and related developer groups often form part of the organized opposition. An open dialogue about developer compensation may prove useful in addressing concerns. In some instances, however, developers may oppose all IZ ordinances and only a strong pro-IZ coalition may prove effective.
Not all developers oppose inclusionary zoning. In fact, some support IZ since such policies provide density bonuses, fast tracking of construction permits, and other mechanisms that streamline the development process. In Montgomery County , although the inclusionary zoning requirements apply to developments of 35 or more units, some builders with smaller developments voluntarily comply because of the flexibility that is allowed in clustering of units. During the 1980's recession, developers in Montgomery County built the affordable units within a development before the market rate units because they had a known buyer - the Public Housing Authority.
Other Influential Organizations. Other organizations play important roles in land use decisions and obtaining their support for an IZ policy can be helpful. These include city, county, and state agencies concerned with redevelopment, economic development, housing, community development, transportation, budget and finance divisions, and the offices of the Mayor, City Council and Tax Assessor.
An Organized Community . A strong, organized, and cohesive coalition can successfully advocate for a change in zoning and land use policies - whether on the city, county, or state level. Organizers should reach out to all parts of the community - those who live, work, study, do business, worship, provide essential services, and engage in cultural activities.
Sustained Commitment. The time frame for advancing an IZ policy to approval and implementation varies from several months to several years. Tracking the progress of proposed legislation and building relationships with key stakeholders require a long-term commitment. Community groups will need to assign key staff and/or volunteers to this task.
Assessment of the Current Market, Land Use, and Need for Affordable Housing. Advocates must develop assessment of the following:
Knowledge of the Political Climate. An understanding of different agencies, their missions and responsibilities, and relationships between different agencies is key. Recognizing the goals and ambitions of individuals in positions of power is also necessary. If the goal is to implement a city-focused IZ ordinance, then building support with a majority of planning commissioners and city council members is critical. Regional IZ can be approached through metropolitan councils or through state legislation. Pursuing state legislation for either regional or statewide IZ will require the support of many key sponsors as well as key legislators. A diverse coalition of community serving organizations, housing advocates, environmentalists, smart growth proponents, and developers is extremely helpful in building political will.
Legal and Technical Assistance . Legal counsel and technical assistance are necessary for drafting a sound zoning ordinance. Some law firms will provide pro-bono assistance to community campaigns. City, county and state planning departments and affordable housing agencies can provide technical assistance to groups proposing inclusionary zoning.