In 2018, Minneapolis eliminated single-family zoning throughout the city. The effective “ban on single family zoning” was seen as a way to increase the amount of affordable housing and to open up areas that had been traditionally more expensive and less accessible to lower-income families. The law allows for the conversion of single-family homes into duplexes and triplexes, as well as allowing for the construction of two- and three-unit apartment buildings on land that had previously been reserved for single-family homes.
While the move has been positive, there are still many impediments to housing that the ban does not cover. Between 2018 and 2021, for example, permits for small apartment buildings doubled. However, only 81 housing units were actually built – a small percentage of the city’s 180,000 households. (Bloomberg.com, 2022)
Moreover, while the number of duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes spiked from 13 in 2015 to 53 in 2021, the total amount of new housing created is still a small percentage of what’s needed in the city. (governing.com, 2022)
While the single-family zoning ban captured nationwide attention, it was only part of a comprehensive 2040 plan that the city unveiled in 2018. Other aspects of the plan have actually been more effective in creating more affordable housing.
An inclusionary zoning law requiring certain types of new developments was also passed as part of the plan. Also, the elimination of mandatory parking minimums has made it easier and cheaper for developers to build. (governing.com, 2022)
The single-family zoning ban in Minneapolis was certainly a good first step to creating more affordable housing. However, more work remains to be done if the city wants to ensure the progress made doesn’t stagnate.