OK, maybe in New York, but this is a pretty selective reading of the history of zoning. Almost a decade before New York brought in their zoning regulations, LA was using zoning to separate housing from industry -- and also to prevent proliferation of Chinese laundries. Lots of other cities were using zoning for even more explicitly racist purposes. Race and class have always been intertwined in zoning policy, and modern zoning is largely about preserving the sanctity of single-family low-rise neighbourhoods that have become enclaves of the wealthy. "Neighbourhood character" as enshrined in zoning was never just about the physical form of development. How else can you explain the barriers to converting a single-family-home into a duplex or triplex or prohibitions on secondary suites with doors that face the street?Zoning bylaws emerged at the beginning of the 20th century to a large extent for health reasons given that the most economically disadvantaged members of society (such as recent immigrants) were reduced to living in tenements with almost zero setbacks from adjacent buildings, windowless rooms, no views or sunlight and minimal air circulation.