Nixing Single-Family Zoning: Will It Make Housing More Affordable?
Speaker 1: 00:00 Cities from Sacramento to Berkeley are moving forward on zoning changes to encourage higher density housing, such as duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes. But how much of a dent will these new options make in California's housing shortage? And will they be affordable? Cath radios. Chris Nichols has this story. Speaker 2: 00:20 Construction crews are digging trenches for dozens of new homes in a subdivision in winters, just outside Sacramento. A small fraction of them will be duplexes. What Laura Pope calls duets. She's a sales consultant for town development Speaker 3: 00:37 Right here on this corner. And then the other corner we'll have the two duets. So this first driveway Speaker 2: 00:42 Hope says these two unit homes with a shared wall will go for about $400,000. Each that's about 20% less than the standard single family homes in the neighborhood. And she says it might make the difference for middle income families, such as young couples trying to buy their first home, Speaker 3: 01:01 The Northern California housing market, you know, on a brand new home in a very desirable location. Under $500,000 is a unique situation. Speaker 2: 01:11 Developers in California tend to build two kinds of housing, either single family homes or large apartment buildings. Cities want to add more of a third option. So-called missing middle housing, like duplexes and triplexes to add more density in a way that fits the neighborhood right now, they can't that's because most residential areas are zoned exclusively for single family homes. Supporters say these missing middle options will cut down on sprawl and create more walkable communities. And they're hopeful. There'll be more affordable to housing expert. Tom Davidoff of the university of British Columbia in Vancouver says they will be less expensive, but they still won't be in reach for it. Speaker 4: 01:56 Everyone in the same structure divided into two, definitely those two units sell for less than the bundled unit. And it allows more people to live in. The neighborhood Speaker 2: 02:05 Says he doesn't expect a surge in construction because there's not that much profit and turning a single family home into a duplex. He says cities should zone for much greater density, such as apartment towers to really solve the Speaker 4: 02:19 Housing crunch. If you don't offer too much extra density people, aren't going to tear down the existing homes and build new because it's costly to tear down an existing structure Speaker 2: 02:29 Supporters of missing middle housing point to Minneapolis as a model that city gained national attention in late 2018, when it became the first in the country to eliminate single family zoning followed shortly after by Portland, I asked housing advocate, Margaret Kaplan of the housing justice center in Minnesota, whether she sees signs of new affordable homes in Minneapolis, more than two years later, Speaker 1: 02:55 That is not much Kaplan says in the first nine months Speaker 2: 03:00 Of last year, Minneapolis issued just three permits for triplexes, but Kelly Snyder says the slow pace of production is not a reason to deny this change in California. Snyder teaches real estate development at San Jose state and works as a consultant in the industry. She says California cities should move forward with these new housing options because they won't cause the neighborhood disruptions. Many. Speaker 5: 03:25 We have seen in Portland and Minneapolis that this is not a dramatic change. Speaker 2: 03:31 She says there's a lot of other strategies to focus on such as funding, truly affordable housing. But for missing Speaker 5: 03:38 Saying, it's not worth doing is not an answer. It is worth doing it. Won't alone solve a problem, but it's one more tool in the toolbox, Speaker 2: 03:47 California. It may be several years before we know how well this tool works in Sacramento. I'm Chris Nichols. Speaker 5: 04:05 [inaudible].