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Studying the Ban on Single-Family Housing

A study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) states traditional housing zoning has been seen as a barrier to affordability, and that using policy to promote diversity in housing stick could accommodate a diverse population with varying incomes and needs. 

“A fresh round of research continues to point to strict zoning ordinances as impeding supply and affordability in the United States,” the NAHB study states. “Innovative policy shifts that increase the flexibility in land use and the tools available to construct varied housing should be good news for builders, developers, renters and home buyers.”

The NAHB added that “diversifying housing options with smaller lots and smaller homes provides resources on code requirements and could provide examples of housing projects that break the traditional mold of housing. 

The report adds that opposition to policies, such as the elimination of single-family zoning, comes from “not in my backyard sentiments.” 

“Property value and neighborhood congruity are common arguments against altering single-family zoned areas,” the report said. “However, appropriate zoning and design considerations can be of use to qualm these concerns.”

Oregon’s HB 2001 went into effect on August 8, and mandates that cities with a population of more than or equal to 25,000 to allow middle-housing types on lots previously earmarked for the development of detached single-family housing. 

The NAHB states, clarifying the legislation, that the policy does not “outright prohibit” single-family zoning or development in Oregon. 

“In fact, the bill should give builders and developers more flexibility and opportunities to build an expanded range of housing types in the state,” the NAHB said. 

The report states there are currently 11 case studies in the U.S. on innovative land-use policies, such as Oregon’s HB 2001.

Those studies include: 

  • Meridian Court: Two single-family lots in Pasadena, California, were combined to create a house-scale condominium building comprising 10 townhouse units and improve site density to 26 units per acre.
  • Mews Townhouse Units: The flexibility of this type of housing proved useful by turning an awkward lot configuration into a successful, small scale project in South Jordan, Utah, and similarly increased site density while providing two- and three-bedroom townhouses.

“Oregon is in fact following a national trend in updating city codes that for years have led to a majority of land use being dedicated to single-family homes,” the report states. 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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