Changing Suburban Demographics Collide With Outdated Zoning Laws

As shifting demographics and the Great Recession increase the functional demands on the typical suburban single-family home, outdated zoning laws are preventing the economical use of underused space, writes S. Mitra Kalita.
July 24, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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With one in five college graduates living with his or her parents, seniors seeking to age in place, and the number of shared households rising, outdated zoning laws are preventing single-family homes from being able to meet these changing needs, writes Kalita. In response, "homeowners are pressing for changes in zoning laws to allow rentals while home builders report a rise in demand for houses with in-law suites or quarters with separate entry."

Efforts to ease restrictions on creating accessory dwellings in existing homes are facing resistance from long standing concerns about traffic, parking and stress on utilities. However, new home construction seems to offer an easier route to multi-functional homes.

"Last year, Lennar Corp. rolled out a 'Next Gen' model, calling it a 'home within a home,'" notes Kalita. "The houses feature a completely separate unit-with own entry, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area-attached to the main house with a double door similar to adjoining hotel rooms."

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Published on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal
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