NEWS: Zoning Laws Restrict Development in Phoenix as Housing Costs Soar

The city of Phoenix is the third-fastest growing metro in the country, with a 16% population increase between 2010 and 2019 according to the most recent census data. This rapid growth has created a sharp rise in housing prices, with single family homes selling for an average of $450,000 as of July, 2021, compared to $300,000 one year ago – a nearly 30% increase, which is the highest in the country, beating out Seattle and San Francisco. (, 2021,, 2021)

But new development has not been keeping up with demand. In Maricopa County, home to the Greater Phoenix metro area, the occupancy rate of rentals is 97%, with the fewest number of units available in 50 years. A recent study estimated that the city needs 150,000 units of rental housing by 2030 to keep up with demand, but certain zoning restrictions are making that number hard to reach. (, 2021,, 2021)

Much of the available land across the city – and the state of Arizona – is only zoned for single-family occupancy, making the development of more affordable multi-family homes and apartments difficult. In many cases, developers looking to make a return on their investments would need to go through a rezoning process, which can be lengthy. In addition, local residents opposing new development in their neighborhoods (known as not-in-my-backyarders, or NIMBY) are making their voices heard and making local governments more hesitant to act. (, 2021)

With states like California, Minnesota and Oregon recently passing laws that ban single-family zoning restrictions, it remains to be seen how this housing crisis will play out in Phoenix and the rest of Arizona.

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