04.18.2016 1

Want to win in November? Save voters from Obamazoning.


By Dustin Howard

Whether you are a presidential candidate or someone seeking an office at the local level, there is an issue that resonates with people across the nation, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulatory overreach destroys local control of zoning laws.

President Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation conditions more than $3 billion of community development block grants on redrawing maps to override local zoning laws using the warped logic that lack of racial and income diversity is proof in itself of racial discrimination.

This is the great sleeper issue of 2016.

Suburban voters work very hard to maintain their standard of living, and choose to avoid the societal dysfunction that is pervasive in liberal-ran urban centers. To arbitrarily export inner city residents to newly constructed government housing built against those communities’ wills violates a sense of fair play, as residents worked hard to form communities without the crime and decay found in the city.

Once informed that these policies will devalue their property and make their community less safe, the issue becomes an existential threat to a suburban community’s way of life, and residents there will support policies and policymakers who will defend their interests.

Westchester County, where none other than Hillary Clinton resides, was the guinea pig for this federal zoning takeover and Republican County Executive Rob Astorino has been attacking it statewide in New York for more than half a decade.  Astorino has won twice in this heavily Democrat county due to his strong opposition to the HUD low-income housing zoning imposition.

Talk Radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have publically inveighed against the HUD rule since 2014, attacking the Obama Administration’s radical restructuring of local zoning laws to move heavily Democrat urban dwellers into suburban communities. Levin has done so as recently as last month, so the issue is ripe particularly for conservative voters who have already been familiarized via media gatekeepers they trust.

What’s more the issue is now percolating strongly in Baltimore County, Maryland where the county is being forced by HUD to build 1,000 low income units under HUD’s twisted legal theory.

But this issue constitutes a real threat to suburban voters beyond just New York and Maryland. About 1,200 counties and cities accept federal community development block grants every single year, all who will suddenly be forced by the feds who tell them where and who to house those who have been failed by liberal urban policies.

This issue is great for contrast, illustrates federal overreach and literally hits voters where they live. It is a motivating issue, and is an opportunity for the candidate or campaign that acts upon it.

The short term solution would be to reject the community block grants that impose this onerous requirement. This will cost lager communities far more than it will cost smaller ones, as the grants range from the thousands of dollars to millions. In the long term, local, state and federal candidates should cultivate voters and put this issue to constituents to achieve a mandate against Washington, D.C. bureaucrats micromanaging their neighborhoods.

No issue is more powerful at the local level than zoning.  All roads, schools and shopping centers are built around planning concepts that are the subject of intense local political debate.  Obama’s HUD rule overrides all those decisions because arrogant officials in Washington are looking at a census map and decide that non-racially and income diverse areas must be racist.

Right thinking candidates across the nation would be insane not to take up this issue. Suburban residents, some of who voted for the very administration that threatens their communities, will be forced to come to terms with the reality of their vote.

In an act of contrition for some and an act of preservation by all, voters should support candidates that will stand against this vile abuse of power by HUD. Candidates on the ballot this November for federal office have never had a better opportunity to stand up for their constituents and stick it to D.C. central planners.

Dustin Howard is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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