Regulations that prohibit multifamily housing and smaller lot sizes contribute to a growing gulf between housing supply and demand.

1 minute read

December 12, 2023, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View of Tucson, Arizona at sunset with two saguaro cacti in foreground.

Tucson, Arizona. | Eric / Adobe Stock

According to an article by Alex Horowitz & Tushar Kansal for Pew, research shows that restrictive zoning laws are limiting new housing development in Arizona, driving up housing costs.

“Fundamentally, Arizona has too few homes available for sale or rent. The state’s population grew 14.7% from 2010 to 2022, but its housing stock increased by only 11.9%.” Homelessness in the state rose by 51.5 percent between 2017 and 2022. However, “Throughout Arizona, numerous cities and towns reserve substantial portions of residential land for the construction of the most expensive housing: single-unit detached homes, often with large lots and substantial parking requirements.” In Tucson, multifamily housing is permitted on just 12 percent of land.

Larger homes and lots also prompt higher usage of water, an increasingly scarce resource in Arizona and the Southwest. “A nationwide study that included data from Phoenix Water Services found that single-family homes in Phoenix used an average of 331 gallons per day, whereas each home in a multifamily development used 182 gallons per day (45% less).”

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