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Deanna Skaggs is a student at Sonoma State University class of 2021 majoring in Environmental Studies concentration in Urban Planning. She plans to go to San Jose State University in Fall 2021 to pursue a Masters in Urban Planning. Deanna is interested in infill, and mixed-use development projects that adds to the walkability of a region. She is also passionate about issues surrounding gentrification, environmental justice, and improved access to public transportation.

As a newly emerging young professional, Deanna is a data-driven decision-maker who works best within a structured framework. She is looking forward to expanding her horizons and taking on more creative projects as her career continues to progress. While interning at Buildaberg Deanna has enjoyed learning about 3D modeling while designing her parklet, understanding the importance of civic engagement in creating surveys, further developing her independent research skills, and gaining experience in website design.  

Why Sprawl Could Be The Next Big Climate Change Battle

Single-family zoning has a long history of racial segregation as suburbs were originally constructed as a “haven” for whites escaping the inner city. Some neighborhoods even so far as to adopt racial convents in their deeds to ensure African Americans and other minorities remained in redlined districts. Additionally, the physical distance forms the city and its services made it so that suburbanites had to drive further for work and life’s necessities. The rapid increase in vehicle miles traveled and the lack of reliable transportation made suburbs one of the biggest contributors to transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

 As the destructive and malicious history of single-family zoning is coming to mainstream debates there is a growing desire to stop the ongoing social and environmental destruction caused by suburban sprawl. But as cities and states slowly move towards more inclusive zoning laws two obstacles lay directly in their path. One is the NIMBY (Not in my Backyard) movement that sees white suburban residents organize a grassroots movement to defeat bills that would increase the density of their neighborhood or introduce lower-income housing. Having witnessed such movements firsthand I am disheartened to say even those who claim to fight for racial justice and the environment will join these movements to protect the statuesque. The second obstacle comes once a change in zoning is approved. How to create a mixed-use walkable neighborhood that does not perpetuate gentrification and allows a variety of income levels to live together comfortably? Any progress made to create more walkable neighborhoods will be in vain if not all peoples can enjoy the benefits. Therefore helping residents see how they all benefit from zoning reform will be key to making headway. 

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