“If ever there were a moment for pro-housing, “Yes In My Backyard” reforms that allow for the development of denser housing, it should be now. In many U.S. cities, housing costs have ballooned beyond the reach of millions of Americans, and evidence suggests that restrictions on where you can build are largely to blame” write John Myers and Michael Hendrix for Bloomberg CityLab
In January this year, Sacramento City Council voted unanimously to eliminate traditional single-family zoning. What was notable about this vote was the overwhelming support from both the public and politicians, and the absence of the NIMBYism which has plagued Californian development in the past. Joining other cities like Portland and Minneapolis, Sacramento will now allow the construction of as many as four homes on land which was previously zoned to allow only one.
Zoning reforms like these are part of the solution to our housing problems. Allowing houses on smaller lots, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in back yards and the building of duplexes and triplexes not only address the ‘missing middle’ housing shortage but help stop rising house prices by providing more housing stock. But, although there’s a growing trend, reforms like these are still rare. Recognizing the necessity is the easy part. Navigating the minefield of planning politics to pass reforms is the hard part.
Hyperlocal zoning reform might just be the way to overcome these political obstacles without changing existing zoning codes or preventing broader reforms by government. Local government would simply allow a single street to make their own decisions on whether to allow denser housing. Local stakeholders could then vote on reforms for their street such as reducing minimum lot sizes, allowing ADUs, or green-lighting duplexes. Hyperlocal zoning reform would expand housing availability, give owners more flexibility and make it easier for planners to respond to local demands. It may just be one street at a time, but its success could pave the way for many.
Read the original article here.
Image courtesy of Dweller, Inc