Smarter Zoning by Street and by Block
Zoning Practice — August 2021
By John Myers
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Over time, housing has become much less affordable in many successful cities, as zoning rules have increasingly constrained what can be built. Meanwhile, efforts by planners and politicians to increase housing supply through upzoning often meet fierce political resistance.
This is because homeowners worry about changes to their neighborhoods and about their most expensive asset: their home. Upzoning efforts fail if the area is too large and too few owners see a benefit in being able to build more or if the new rules are still too restrictive to make redevelopment a good investment. One solution could be to give residents more control over small-area upzonings.
This issue of Zoning Practice proposes a new, ultralocal, approach to upzoning that would use resident-initiated upzonings to increase housing supply and diversity on a street-by-street or block-by-block basis.
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