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Reports about the death of single-family zoning have been greatly exaggerated

via the Sightline Institute

While headlines about recent zoning changes have touted the "end of single-family housing", the reality is much more nuanced.

Just because the zoning will permit a multi-unit housing development doesn't mean one will instantly pop up. The math has to work out for the people building it as well as for whoever might live in it.

The Sightline Institute ran some typical financial scenarios and came up with 5 big takeaways from the recent zoning changes to Portland, the first of which is: "On most urban lots, legalizing smallplexes would mean nothing at all for many years."

Even though upzoning isn't a magic bullet to solve our housing crisis, it doesn't mean we shouldn't be constantly looking for ways we can improve the regulations that govern our cities.

But it means looking hard at what our zoning regulations are accomplishing and considering the many factors that influence construction.


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