Cities modify density zoning to spur more affordable housing projects

Solutions include eliminating single-family zoning and allowing taller apartments in higher-density zones.

August 09, 2019 |

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With housing affordability reaching crisis proportions in many cities, local officials are implementing new zoning regulations to catalyze more home construction.

Land-use rules that include density restrictions, and even some that influence aesthetics and design, restrict development. It has been estimated that 20% of the variation in housing growth from one area to another can be attributed to density regulations.

Officials in several cities recently altered zoning regulations to spur more housing development. In Longmont, Colo., for example, leaders identified five key mixed-used pockets for new housing projects. Within these zones, the city is incentivizing four-story buildings, greater density, and more affordable housing.

A new program in Austin relaxed rules on density, setbacks, height, and parking in return for at least 50% of units classifying as affordable. Where the entire project is classified as affordable, developers are able to build 50% taller than the current code.

In Minneapolis, the city removed single-family zoning and now allows residential construction of up to three units citywide.

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