Are We Doing This Right? – Single-Family Zoning Edition

Are We Doing This Right? – Single-Family Zoning Edition

Listen to this episode in Apple Podcasts.

Across the country, cities big and small are facing a housing affordability crisis, yet many single-family houses sit vacant. Many of the same cities have serious infrastructure funding shortages. We examine the role of single-family zoning in shaping these issues and more—and we explore why there is momentum building to re-legalize other housing types, such as duplexes and fourplexes.

Are We Doing This Right? is our new podcast series where we dig deeper into an issue that affects cities across North America, bust (or uphold) a few myths, set some context, and give our frank opinions about whether or not we could be doing things better. (Hint: we usually think we could be doing things better than we currently are, but we always try to find examples of places that already are doing a good job.)

Your hosts for this episode: Jordan Clark & AJ Fawver.

Want to read more? Here are some of the resources we used in compiling this episode:

Overviews of the recent moves to re-legalize missing middle housing:

Minneapolis’ Comprehensive Plan: Three Cheers for Minneapolis (The 3 is for Triplex) – Daniel Herriges, Strong Towns.

  • This is a great writeup on the significance of spreading the effects of change—i.e. new development—over a whole city rather than concentrating them in a minority of neighborhoods. It also celebrates the way in which the comprehensive plan process unfolded.

Oregon’s HB 2001: In Oregon: The middle isn’t missing any more – Joe Cortright, City Observatory.

  • Some Oregon-specific context for this law, and lessons to be learned from a state legislature taking action where cities won’t.

Seattle’s legalization of granny flats on single-family zoned lots: Seattle Says Yes to the Best Rules in America for Backyard Cottages, Dan Bertolet and Margaret Morales, Sightline Institute.

  • Sightline has some of the best coverage of housing policy; this writeup gives the backstory to this important move and offers suggestions for how to improve on it.

More reading:

Missing Middle Housing

Exclusionary Zoning Robs Our Cities of Their Best Qualities – Dan Bertolet, Sightline Institute

The Unintended Consequences of Housing Finance – Regional Plan Association

The New Exclusionary Zoning – John Mangin, Stanford Law & Policy Review

Who Would Live in “Missing Middle” Housing? The Middle Class – Michael Anderson, Sightline Institute

Cities Start to Question an American Ideal: A House With a Yard on Every Lot – Emily Badger & Quoctrung Bui, New York Times

Property tax caps aren't helping

Property tax caps aren't helping

Building community wealth with Monte Anderson

Building community wealth with Monte Anderson