Housing Reform Package Under Consideration by Rhode Island General Assembly

The Rhode Island House Speaker has introduced a package of 14 bills intended to ease housing construction without stepping on any toes at the local level.

2 minute read

March 8, 2023, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Rhode Island Capitol Building

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Rhode Island House Speaker Joe Shekarchi recently unveiled a legislative package of 14 bills to “bolster much-needed housing development across the state without circumventing local control over zoning and planning,” according to an article by Eli Sherman and Ted Nesi for WPRI. According to the article, the legislative package attempts to walk a tightrope between implementing effective housing policy action at the state level while retaining local control over zoning codes and land use regulation. Other states, like Oregon and California, have tended more toward state preemption of local zoning powers.

“‘Nothing in this package forces communities to build more affordable housing and none of this legislation circumvents local decision-making authority,’ Shekarchi, D-Warwick, told reporters during a briefing on the legislative package,” according to the article.

In evidence of the tenuous political ground the speaker is attempting to navigate with the housing reform package, the briefing was attended by Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns Executive Director Ernie Almonte, who rose to voice support “conceptual” for the package, but stopped short of fully endorsing the bills.

More details on the specific measures proposed in each of the 14 bills can be found in a press release from the Office of the Speaker. Among the items included are streamlined permitting processes (H6081 and H6061), two new categories for allowing accessory dwelling units by right (H6082), and a new requirement for all municipal land use approvals to be consistent with future land use maps (H6085), among others.

Friday, March 3, 2023 in WPRI

Large historic homes and white picket fences line a street.

The End of Single-Family Zoning in Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County is the latest jurisdiction in the country to effectively end single-family zoning.

March 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Amtrak Acela Express train passing through Harrison station in Newark, New Jersey

‘Train Daddy’ Andy Byford to Oversee Amtrak’s High-Speed Rail Efforts

Byford, who formerly ran NYC Transit and Transport for London, could bring renewed vigor to the agency’s plans to expand regional rail in the United States.

March 28, 2023 - StreetsBlog NYC

Buses in downtown Seattle on the dedicated 3rd Avenue bus lanes

Seattle Bus Lane Cameras Capture Over 100,000 Violations

An automated traffic enforcement pilot program caught drivers illegally using transit lanes more than 110,000 times in less than a year.

March 28, 2023 - Axios

View of Statue of Liberty with New York City skyline in background

Immigration Grows, Population Drops in Many U.S. Counties

International immigration to the country’s most populous areas tripled even as major metropolitan areas continued to lose population.

March 31 - The New York Times

Detroit Sports Arena

$616 Million in Development Incentives Approved for District Detroit

The “Transformational Brownfield” incentives approved by the Detroit City Council for the $1.5 billion District Detroit still require approval by the state.

March 31 - Detroit Free Press

A red sign reads, “Welcome to New Canaan.”

Affordable Housing Development Rejected for Lack of Third Staircase in Connecticut

The New Canaan Planning Commission rejected a development proposal, including 31 below-market-rate apartments, for lack of a third staircase, among other reasons, at a time when advocates are pushing to relax two-staircase requirements.

March 31 - Stamford Advocate

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

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.