Racially biased code words used in NY housing case

March 24, 2016
Officials in an affluent suburban New York village acquiesced to race-based opposition to a housing project and changed zoning codes to discriminate against minorities, a federal appeals court said this week as it also opened the door to one of America's most affluent counties facing claims it steered affordable housing to its lowest-income communities.
     The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a judge's finding that the village of Garden City on Long Island discriminated against minorities in a zoning decision made after Nassau County decided to sell some land. The court noted village residents used racially biased code words to convince public officials to exclude minorities by changing the land's zoning to mostly exclude multi-family dwellings.
     The appeals court said that Garden City residents at public hearings, for instance, claimed multi-family housing would change the "flavor" and "character" of the village and that any construction should involve "upscale" units. It also highlighted residents' claims that their community might become like Brooklyn and Queens, New York City boroughs where minorities are the majority.