More Evidence Upzoning Alone Won't Boost Housing

Experts caution that to encourage significant new housing production, other zoning reforms that reduce costs and streamline permitting should accompany increased density requirements.

1 minute read

January 27, 2022, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

South San Jose houses

SchuminWeb / Wikimedia Commons

In yet another cautionary article warning planners of the limitations of upzoning, Carl Smith reports on a Connecticut study that reveals that eliminating single-family zoning is only one step toward reducing the massive gap between affordable housing supply and demand. The study was conducted by Desegregate Connecticut, which created a first-of-its-kind map that details zoning codes in each of the state's jurisdictions, allowing planners to compare different zoning regulations and understand how they interconnect. 

Their analysis found that "a surprising number of other zoning requirements have the potential to interfere with efforts to open more land to multifamily dwellings." These include public hearing requirements that can delay or derail projects, minimum parking requirements, height limits, lot coverage, floor area ratio requirements, and occupancy restrictions. As others have pointed out, upzoning alone doesn't guarantee new construction if demand doesn't exist or other restrictions make development too onerous and expensive.

Advocates like Desegregate Connecticut are pushing for other zoning reforms that, together with upzoning, will make a real positive impact on the housing market. Thanks in part to Desegregate CT's efforts, which we covered last March, the Connecticut state legislature passed Public Act 21-29, a bill that addresses many of the above concerns and implements more comprehensive zoning reform that goes beyond density to remove other barriers to new housing.

Friday, January 21, 2022 in Governing

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

View of 110 freeway with downtown Los Angeles buildings in background.

LA Freeway Ramp ‘Quietly Canceled’

A 2018 lawsuit forced Metro and Caltrans to do full environmental reviews of the project, leading to its cancellation.

February 29, 2024 - Streetsblog LA

Blue and white Pittsburgh bike share bikes lined up at a station with a red city bus on street in background.

Micromobility Operators Call for Better Links to Transit

For shared mobility to succeed, systems must tap into the connectivity and funding potential offered by closer collaboration with public transit.

4 hours ago - GovTech

New York MTA Bus

Retaining Transit Workers Is About More Than Wages

An analysis of California transit employees found a high rate of burnout among operators who face unpredictable work schedules, high housing costs, and occasional violence.

5 hours ago - Streetsblog California

View of Hollywood Reservoir with palm trees in foreground and Los Angeles neighobrhoods in background.

California's Stormwater Potential

A new study reveals that if California could collect and treat more stormwater in cities, it could provide enough water to supply a quarter of the state’s urban population.

7 hours ago - Cal Matters

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.