“Housing production is up, and rents do indeed appear to be falling. But the effects of Minneapolis’ particular means of eliminating single-family-only zoning, and allowing up to triplexes on residential land citywide, have been exceedingly modest.
Newly legal triplexes and duplexes make up a tiny fraction of new homes being built. Other less headline-grabbing reforms appear to be doing the Lord’s work of boosting housing production.”
“Wittenberg credits the city’s elimination of parking minimums—which had typically required one parking spot per housing unit—with facilitating increased construction of smaller apartment buildings.
The city has been chipping away at residential parking minimums since 2009. The Minneapolis 2040 plan eliminated them entirely. (The city has also adopted some rather un-free market parking policies, including parking maximums in some areas and bike parking minimums.)
Data culled by Wittenberg, and shared with Reason, shows that 19 major projects have been approved by Minneapolis’ Planning Commission since parking minimums were eliminated. The median project provided .42 residential parking spaces per unit, with smaller apartment buildings typically including even less parking.
“For site constraint reasons and economic reasons, it would have been hard to park those buildings at one parking space per unit,” he says. “We’re pretty clearly seeing that is making a significant difference.”
In January 2021, Minneapolis also implemented additional parts of the 2040 Minneapolis comprehensive plan that allows for larger, denser apartment buildings in more of the city, particularly along commercial corridors and near public transit stops. That’s also helped facilitate more development, says Wittenberg.
Flisrand, on Twitter, argues that the fight over eliminating single-family-zoning sucked up most of the attention in the Minneapolis 2040 debate, thus paving the way for more impactful policies like parking minimum elimination and commercial corridor upzoning.”
“One also doesn’t want to learn the wrong lesson that eliminating single-family zoning is the only supply increasing reform cities need to adopt.
There’s a certain current of thought on the political left—represented most prominently by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.)—that supports eliminating single-family zoning in wealthy neighborhoods while also expressing extreme skepticism of denser private, market-rate development elsewhere in the city
But legalizing the latter type of development, at least in Minneapolis’s experience, appears to go a lot farther in actually producing more housing units and holding down rents.
More and more jurisdictions across the country are catching on to the fact that their zoning laws are strangling housing production and driving up housing costs, and moving to make changes.”