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The Urban Shift Away from Single-Family Housing

residential segregation in housingAs lawmakers in states such as Oregon and California move to end zoning exclusively for single-family homes, The New York Times [1]takes a look at what is moving cities to begin to do away with zoning for the traditional single-family home.

NYT notes that the Oregon legislature this month will consider a law that would end zoning exclusively for single-family homes in most of the state, while California lawmakers have drafted a bill that would effectively do the same. These lawmakers state that this change is necessary, “ amid mounting crises over housing affordability, racial inequality and climate change.”

Minneapolis will end single-family zoning city wide as well, across zoning on 70%of the city’s residential land, or 53% of all land. According to Minneapolis director of long-range planning Heather Worthington, a drastic change such as this was the best option.

If we were going to pick and choose, the fight I think would have been even bloodier,” Worthington told NYT.

According to Urban footprint, converting 5% of Minneapolis’s largest single-family plots into triplexes would create 6,200 new units of housing. Despite the benefits proposed by lawmakers, Minnepolis’s plan has drawn criticism.

“What we’re selling here in Minneapolis — or what our planning department and our city council are selling — is that we’re new, we’re state of the art, we’re cutting-edge, we’re virtue signaling,” said Lisa McDonald on NYT, a former Minneapolis City Council member.

According to McDonald, the reality of the plan is that Minneapolis is “giving itself away to developers,” building market-rate housing, but not any new affordable housing, stating to “beware these promises.”

According to the NYT, these advocates for curbing single-family zoning are not pushing a new idea, but rather, are lobbying for “a return to the past.”

“Many Minneapolis blocks today date to before the 1920s, with duplexes or small apartment buildings next to single-family homes,” the NYT stated. “For years, those older buildings have been considered “nonconforming,” as the law changed around them. Under Minneapolis’s new plan, that distinction will end, too."