Could zoning reform pave the way for a multifamily housing boom?
The majority of Americans find current zoning policies restrictive, as about 75% of residential land permits single-family homes only.
A recent Pew Research Center survey sheds light on a shifting public sentiment, revealing strong support for a variety of zoning reforms aimed at expanding housing options, including:
- Legalizing accessory dwelling units (such as backyard cottages or in-law suites) in single-family-zoned areas
- Permitting duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes on single-family lots
- Endorsing office-to-residential conversions and mixed-use housing
- Allowing affordable housing development near major transit hubs
- Streamlining the permitting process.
“Support for most of the housing policies transcended the usual fault lines of political party, region, race, income, and gender,” Pew researchers report. “In addition, 9 of the 10 tested measures received majority support from both renters and homeowners.”
Despite evidence that zoning reforms enhance housing affordability and accessibility, local opposition to development continues to pose the biggest hurdle. Throughout the year, several states and cities, including Florida, California, Austin, TX, and Chicago, IL, have considered or enacted legislation to loosen zoning restrictions. Looking ahead, discussions on housing policies are expected to continue into 2024 and shape the future of urban planning.
Property managers, positioned at the forefront of real estate, could find themselves overseeing larger and more diverse portfolios if zoning rules are ripped up. This shift would bring both opportunities and challenges, depending on business objectives and their capacity to take on more units.
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