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Brief urges Court to affirm lower court ruling exempting legislatively authorized exactions from “essential nexus” and “rough proportionality” requirements

Washington, DC – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, arguing that inclusionary zoning and affordable housing fees authorized by legislation illustrate why legislatively imposed fees and requirements, in general, should not be subjected to the Court’s “essential nexus” and “rough proportionality” tests. The brief outlines how such inclusionary zoning and affordable housing fees are critical in the efforts to address the nationwide affordable housing crisis, which has greatly impacted Black households and other people of color who have experienced the negative consequences of unaffordable housing at disproportionate rates. 

“With well-designed inclusionary zoning and affordable housing fee policies, we can see an increase in the availability of affordable housing,” said Thomas Silverstein, associate director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee. “Inclusionary zoning and fees promote the development of affordable housing in areas with high demand for market-rate development, which, in turn, tend to be areas where residents are disproportionately white and/or affluent. Increasing affordable housing in these areas fosters residential racial integration in places that were segregated through state policy and will improve health outcomes, educational achievement, and economic mobility.”

The question before the Court concerns whether fees required of property owners to mitigate the impact of development on traffic are subjected to standards of “essential nexus” and “rough proportionality” between the fees and the impact of the property owner’s development even when such fees are authorized by legislation. 

Many metropolitan areas in the U.S. were intentionally racially segregated both through state action and through private discrimination, some of which remain segregated today with Black households residing in areas that are disproportionately low income. With inclusionary zoning and an increase in affordable housing, we can improve the outcomes for low-income residents across a range of opportunity dimensions, such as education, health and employment.


About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit