In today’s economically vibrant and high-cost cities like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., housing growth and housing affordability are a function of two variables: zoning and politics. This Article focuses on both in an edge case—New York City’s three fastest-growing ethnic and immigrant enclaves, where larger households, lower incomes, and greater place-dependence raise the stakes of the zoning game.
First, are Hasidic Jewish communities, who employ a “Voice” strategy. By virtue of numbers, spatial dominance within their enclaves, and bloc voting patterns, the Hasidic Jews of Brooklyn have successfully advocated for rezonings and special rules that have enabled them to densify and expand their enclaves over time.
Second, are Chinese communities, who employ an “Exit” strategy. When Manhattan Chinatown became too crowded and expensive, satellite Chinatowns emerged in lower-density and lower-cost, outer-borough neighborhoods with shrinking white populations and good transit connections to Chinatown.