Zoning Code: Presents vs Coal Addition

A lot of communities try to give themselves the “present” of new, more affordable housing development by allowing for multifamily buildings in certain parts of the community.  It’s true that expanding the housing types allowed in existing zones is a great move when it comes to increasing housing choice. However, there may be hidden “lumps of coal” within the code that inhibits their actual development.

This holiday season, Community Builders wants to help you dig out those lumps of coal and hopefully replace them with presents that will enable more affordable housing choices in your community. Here are some of the most common suspects and what you can do to transform them:

Density & Minimum Lot Size

Your code has both density and minimum lot size requirements, so you get the least dense of either option, prohibiting the housing choices
(like townhomes or row homes) that you want to see developed.

Increase your density requirements
(or do away them completely) and decrease your minimum lot size to allow for the types of housing your community wants.


Off- Street Parking Requirements

Your codes require an unrealistic amount of off-street parking for even small multifamily buildings forcing cost-prohibitive solutions like underground parking.

Reduce (or do away with!) off-street parking requirements OR allow for shared or on-street spaces to be counted toward the requirement.


Building Height

Your maximum allowable building height is actually lower than some of the historic buildings in your downtown.

Take a look at some of the buildings your community loves most in each neighborhood and set your height requirement to allow more of the same.



You have exceedingly large setback requirements that increase for multifamily buildings resulting in less feasible and more expensive projects.

Create uniform setback requirements for a neighborhood that is not variable based on housing type.


Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

You allow for ADUs within your code but off-street parking requirements make them impossible to fit on most lots in your community.

Do not require homeowners to add additional off-street parking for new ADUs.


*This blog was produced for Day 2 of the 12 Days of Housing. To access content from this holiday housing campaign, click here.
  • Housing
  • |
  • Land Use

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *