This post is a part of Housing Affordability Institute’s ongoing State Legislatures and Housing Reform project. Throughout 2023, the Institute will monitor how state lawmakers are working to address their states’ housing challenges.
Zoning Modernization Efforts
Zoning modernization efforts are progressing across the nation. Gov. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) and Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) have provided the latest proof that when governors lead, the legislatures act.
Zoning reform in Arizona failed to clear the Arizona State Senate in March on a vote of 9-20. Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) had earlier voiced opposition to the effort.
SB 213, a major land use reform package, would legalize more housing types by preventing local governments from banning ADUs, duplexes, triplexes, and certain multifamily projects, and expand transit-oriented housing options. Gov. Polis has made this bill one of his priorities for 2023.
In the House, HB 1255 would allow needed housing production by preventing local governments from limiting the amount of development in their cities.
After progressing in the State Senate, several zoning reform bills cleared major hurdles in the House and are back with the Senate with amendments:
- SB245: A bill to allow more multi-family housing in commercial areas
- SB323: The bill that legalizes new starter homes
- SB382: A bill that allows starter homes by-right and overhauls Montana’s zoning laws.
Another bill, SB 406, would prevent cities from adopting a building code that differs from the Montana State Building Code. This also has been returned to the Senate, with amendments.
All bills await a final vote in the State House.
In Minnesota, the Legalize Affordable Housing Act, a comprehensive housing reform bill, passed the House of Representatives Housing Committee in March. The bill was not included in the House’s overall housing legislative package.
While previous zoning reform efforts had cleared legislative committees and floor votes in the State Senate in previous years, this was the first time this zoning reform effort cleared a House of Representatives committee. The House Housing chair has indicated that zoning reform will be included in next year’s policy-centric legislative session.
Local Action in Minnesota Mirrors National Progress
At the local level in Minnesota, zoning modernization efforts mirror national progress, with some progressing, some stalling, and others yet to be determined.
- Richfield: In January, the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield modernized its zoning controls to allow smaller lots and to require less parking for new housing. The action by the city council was unanimous.
- Bloomington: Bloomington, the largest Twin Cities suburb adjacent to Richfield, reviewed a comprehensive zoning reform package in March. Some of the council members have yet to make up their minds on the proposal which may be taken up again at a later date.
- St. Paul: The city of St. Paul’s planning commission is taking up a proposal in April that would expand where duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes are allowed, alter sizing and other requirements to increase housing options, and allow more types of single-family homes, both attached and detached.