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H.R.482 - Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017 (congress.gov)
70 points by stuarto 226 days ago | hide | past | web | 36 comments | favorite



House and Senate bills (H.R.482 and S.103) have been introduced to ban further federal funding or use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that disseminate data on racial discrimination in housing and other community issues.

The government created visualization site https://egis.hud.gov/affht/# specifically would be banned for further support, maintenance or use by members of the federal government.

Fortunately the raw data is still available for download.

To me, government-ordered public-interest website teardowns sound a lot like a 21st century version of book-burning.

Bill sponsors include Marco Rubio and Mike Lee in the Senate

Geographic scientists have taken notice http://news.aag.org/2017/01/creating-and-preserving-actionab...


Do you know where I can download the raw data? I'd like to keep a copy of it.


https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/4868/affh-raw-data/

A lot of it is just plain census data, with some additional housing details filled in! Adding maps makes it more accessible :)


Checked against where I live and it's surprisingly accurate, even on very micro level down to a couple streets.


> To me, government-ordered public-interest website teardowns sound a lot like a 21st century version of book-burning.

Fortunately that's not what this is. No longer operating a website is not the same as ordering other such websites to be torn down. No need to overstate the problem.


Burning a book isn't ordering all other books of its type be burned, but it sure sends a message -- let's destroy this representation of knowledge because it contains knowledge or thought I don't approve of. It's entirely analogous to book-burning, though not book-banning (which is analogous to making such data illegal -- though it's arguable that since the federal government is really the only body capable of collecting such data, banning the federal government from collecting it IS banning it.. an argument for another place and time, I think) but OP didn't claim it as such, so it isn't an overstatement.


Why would anyone want to remove public access to impartial facts? Hmm.


You assume everyone acts rationally all the time, every time. What you call "impartial data" somebody might make the argument that this data is promoting racial segregation.

By being able to track the racial makeup of every census tract you would be able to self-segregate.

If you follow this line of reasoning, then this action is a good one, since it promotes racial integration.

In other words, choose your side and then have at it! When there are no shared principles and values, then there are no shared actions.


France has banned collecting data on race/ethnicity since 1978. Moreover, if you are of the mind that we are in a post-racism society (not that I subscribe to that by the way), then this sort of data to you merely reflects peoples' preferences and is only presented to sow disunity.


I wish it were that simple. Firstly, what definition of racism are we using, because by measures such as bias against black names on resumes, in the justice system, in police shootings, there is strong evidence we're not remotely in a post-racism society (against blacks, let alone middle-easterners).

And having grown up in a 95%+ white area and moved to SF, it's been my personal experience that it's very easy to have sweeping assumptions about groups you haven't met any members of (which is a class segregation of housing and schooling can lead to future problems).

To take this a step further, I think such biases even hold to a lesser extent within races (based on accents, dress, hobbies) that perpetuates the class system and ultimately the 1% issue.


The only people who would ever subscribe to the notion that we're in a post-racism society are those who stand to benefit from that nonsense.


I disagree. I was raised being told that race doesn't matter, and I don't see it as an issue. Continuing to acknowledge race will just amplify the natural tendency of people to categorize people based on differences.


You may not see it as an issue, but the people negatively impacted by it certainly do. Or are we pretending that events like laws suppressing voters based on race [1] don't happen?

[1]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/08/03/...


Are we pretending that the source you cited is not a biased opinion piece?


> In North Carolina, the legislature requested racial data on the use of electoral mechanisms, then restricted all those disproportionately used by blacks, such as early voting, same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. Absentee ballots, disproportionately used by white voters, were exempted from the voter ID requirement. The legislative record actually justified the elimination of one of the two days of Sunday voting because “counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic.”

I welcome any other sources you might have showing that this is factually incorrect.


There are many other good arguments you could use to say that racism still exists, but voter ID laws isn't a good one. Brown people can get an ID just as easily as white.


I see you didn't bother to read the article.

> The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in its decision last week, held that the North Carolina state legislature acted to entrench itself and “it did so by targeting voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constituted racial discrimination.”

> The court called this strategy what it is: racist. The panel wrote that “using race as a proxy for party may be an effective way to win an election. But intentionally targeting a particular race’s access to the franchise because its members vote for a particular party, in a predictable manner, constitutes discriminatory purpose. This is so even absent any evidence of race-based hatred and despite the obvious political dynamics.”

> In North Carolina, the legislature requested racial data on the use of electoral mechanisms, then restricted all those disproportionately used by blacks, such as early voting, same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. Absentee ballots, disproportionately used by white voters, were exempted from the voter ID requirement. The legislative record actually justified the elimination of one of the two days of Sunday voting because “counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic.”


The future has arrived, it just isn't evenly distributed.


Oh, okay. So racism, institutional or otherwise, doesn't affect people because you've chosen to ignore that it exists.

Gotcha.


one possibility: to promote alternative facts.


I was wondering exactly the same when Holder's Justice Dept removed offender race stats from the NCVS report in 2009.


"on community racial disparities"

Would this not defund access to census data? As census data shows disparities in race?

Edit: OK, after having talked to a buddy about this, it looks like this is address directly at HUD, and would not affect census data as that is under commerce.


I think the "notwithstanding additional laws" caveat will protect census data. There are a number of things that require the collection, storage, analysis, and dissemination of census data by law. It's definitely murky, though.


My read is that they aren't (yet) proposing defunding the data, "just the maps" e.g. visualizations that make it accessible. Nothing (yet) stopping a public-interest project from hosting the same information on an open platform.


"design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information"

From my perspective that says they cannot even create the data, let alone give anyone access to it.


Gerrymandering, and its effects on under-represented minorities, is far harder to illustrate and/or prove without easily accessible data of this kind.


But it has "protection" in its title! It must be protecting us right...


The title of this article is not the same as the original, which is "H.R.482 - Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017" and concerns "The final rule of the Department of Housing and Urban Development entitled 'Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing'".

The current title is click-bait.


Congressional bill titles are anti-click-bait. "Nothing to see here." This title says what the bill actually does.

How is the original title preferable?


No, it's a plain English description of what the bill actually does.


From https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

"Otherwise please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait. "


The original title of a law is often misleading—either merely obfuscating key elements of the law's intent or actively misrepresenting the intent—though usually the exact opposite of clickbait (a misleading title of a law is designed to avoid, rather than encourage, people digging further for the details.)

This case seems very much to be in the obfuscating category, and the whole purpose of posting it seems to be the element of the intent that the title obfuscates.


Thanks for the guidance, I changed the title to comply. I'm looking forward to a bill that would dismantle support for federally maintaining climate data visualizations -- likely to be titled the "Climate Monitoring Protection Act of 2017" ;)


One could argue that the original title as misleading. As it does not say what the bill actually does. In this case a plain English description of the results seems reasonable.


Well, I don't see anything about race discrimination in the language, and it seems to be about whether zoning should be done on a local level rather than by the federal government.


The language in Sec 3 is specifically "database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing". It is true that disparities may arise from either discrimination or other sources.




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