Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "zoning" ...

  • A Tale of Two Neighborhoods

    This series of investigative articles examines increasing racial segregation in student neighborhoods surrounding the University of Texas at Austin. Caused by new land zoning in housing communities near campus, rent costs have been on the rise in neighborhoods near the University at the same time that increasing numbers of low-income students of color have been admitted to the University under new admissions policies. With racial tension rising, the result has been a high density of white and Asian students in expensive neighborhoods near campus, and a high density of black and Latino students in other parts of the city who must travel by bus to reach school.
  • Green Inc., Environmentalism for Profit

    With the groundbreaking series Green Inc., USA Today for the first time uncovers the truth behind the soaring movement toward constructing buildings that are certified as environmentally friendly. The series shows how "green" buildings often are barely different from their supposedly conventional counterparts -- except that green-building designers and owners often win huge tax breaks, zoning waivers and other valuable perks from government agencies. The series involves an unprecedented analysis of records for 7,100 green-certified buildings to show how the designers follow the easiest and cheapest steps to get certified. Numerous freedom-of-information requests revealed the enormous tax breaks awards to the building designers and owners, and also show how some buildings are falling far short of their environmental promise.
  • Steamrolled

    The story documents how Houston residents are being exposed to industrial pollution with no protection from state and local regulators. Because Houston does not have zoning laws, industrial plants can be built in residential neighborhoods.
  • Menino's Rule

    This series explains how Mayor Menino supervised a “building boom that benefited a handful of favored developers and consultants with close ties to him”. Put together, “the six most prolific developers built one out of every four square feet constructed by private developers since 1996”. The mayor violated a pledge not to accept donations by accepting money from these developers, which supported his campaign. Furthermore, he disregarded a city ordinance, which was designed to ensure that these projects benefited city residents.
  • Billboard Confidential

    This story was an investigation into the billboard industry in the City of Los Angeles. They found a business blatantly breaking the law by placing thousands of illegal signs all over the city, and government officials doing nothing to stop it. The story revealed the Los Angeles City Council made sweetheart deals with certain sign companies, allowing them to break the city's own zoning laws. Some of these deals were done behind closed doors, with no input from the community. This relationship seemed to benefit both parties. The journalists revealed every single council member received campaign contributions from members of the billboard industry, who in turn made millions -- if not billions -- off of LA's streetscapes
  • Toxic Neighbors

    Industrial plants with toxic chemicals were located blocks from homes, apartment complexes and schools. Some were found across the street from residences. The staff mapped where hazardous material sites were located in relation to densely-populated areas.
  • Neighborhoods for Sale

    This eight-part yearlong series documented and exposed the nexus between the deep-pocketed developers who have transformed the city during the building boom of the past decade, the alderman who supported these wholesale changes and millions of dollars in campaign donations. The Tribune's series began by exploring how "pay to play" politics drives zoning changes in Chicago and showing how seemingly arcane official actions directly affect people across the city's neighborhoods. The Tribune also created a first-ever interactive database containing ten years of zoning changes, allowing residents to go online and research developments in their own neighborhoods.
  • Learning to Leave

    "An in-depth examination of where Denver's children ages 5 to 17 are enrolled in school. The newspaper partnered with Denver Public Schools and a local foundation to provide the first data on the impact of school choice in Colorado on the states most urban school district."
  • The (non) enforcers

    The Unified Development Ordinance in Ashville, North Carolina was meant to put regulations on local building and development. Yet, enforcement has been "lax or nonexistent."
  • Hillsborough County School District Land Investigation

    The ninth largest U.S. school district, Hillsborough County (FL), in 2006 was "growing fast enough to fill five new schools" per year. To meet the demand, Hillsborough county used the services of 4 private real estate brokers, without using bids, in violation of its own regulations. Three of the four brokers have records of criminal, legal and financial problems. Some of those brokers simultaneously represented the sellers, or flipped the land themselves, resulting in land purchases often made substantially above appraisal values. Reporters from the St. Petersburg Times documented swampland purchases, and school sites surrounded by the homes of sexual predators.