Housing economists say restrictive urban zoning rules limit new housing supply and push up prices. Rules in many cities and suburban towns specify minimum lot sizes, unit sizes and costly building-code requirements as well as limits on anything other than single-family housing. Approval processes slow or stop larger multi-unit projects that promise more affordable options.
Efforts to revise these rules seem to work best with local initiative and support. Minneapolis in 2018 became the first U.S. city to ban single-family-only neighborhoods. A suburban Virginia county has eased restrictions near transit hubs. San Diego, Austin and other cities are speeding up approval processes for affordable projects. A widely-watched bill in California to override local zoning near transit hubs failed in the legislature early in 2020, after vocal objections from southern California residents.
- Harvard: Eliminating exclusionary land-use regulations should be the civil rights issue of our time
- Mercatus: How land use regulation undermines affordable housing
- Urban Affairs Review: Exclusionary zoning—what we can do about it
- Urban Institute: How communities are rethinking zoning
- Inman: Minneapolis has officially eliminated single-family zoning
- KQED: Closely watched California housing bill now dead