Minneapolis has become the latest U.S. city to do away with single-family zoning laws, allowing a greater variety of construction within its neighborhoods. The measure to eliminate single-family zoning was approved in a 10-1 vote by Minneapolis City Council members.
Single-family zoning laws have come under attack in several U.S. cities and states in recent years, as officials look for a way to fix housing shortages that are plaguing communities across the country. The argument is that by allowing a greater density and more variety of homes within neighborhoods, cities will be able to satisfy demand for housing more easily than they can with current laws in place.
Earlier this year, Oregon became the first U.S. state to remove single-family zoning laws.
Edward Goetz, director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, told WCCO News Talk that Minneapolis’ move was “symbolic.”
“I don’t think, personally, there is going to be a huge change in these parts of Minneapolis,” Goetz said. “Southwest Minneapolis is still going to be dominated by single-family homes. The changes are not going to be that dramatic, but there’s a symbolic step and there’s a symbolic value to doing this, according to those who have put it forward. The movement to really eradicate single-family zoning is an attempt to break with that past.”
Lawmakers in favor of removing single-family zoning said the rigid laws were fostering racial and socioeconomic inequality within the city, and that the removal of the laws would help to fix this.
Not everyone was convinced though. Linea Palmisano, the sole dissenter among the Minneapolis City Council, said the measures will primarily benefit home builders that want to “swoop into neighborhoods” and build triplexes. She said she was concerned that this would radically alter the character of some of the cities’ neighborhoods.
But others brushed aside these concerns, saying Minneapolis was being bold and leading the fight to create affordable housing.
“Our landmark 2040 Comprehensive Plan helps advance those goals by tackling our city’s long history of exclusionary zoning while laying the groundwork for stronger transit, climate, and inclusive development policies,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.