Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

Opportunities to preserve housing, increase production

By Pamela Blumenthal and Regina Gray, in PD&R Edge, HUD USER, September 7, 2021

[Ed. note: The following is only a small segment of a Sept. 7, 2021, article from HUD USER discussing the impact of regulatory barriers on housing affordability.]

HUD published a report in January 2021 that highlights [in Section 5 the] actions state and local governments are taking to reduce barriers that are limiting housing production and preservation. These activities range from state tax policies and incentives to encourage local action to local zoning changes, process improvements, and community engagement reforms. These efforts are not limited to jurisdictions often in the headlines, such as Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; and California; they are appearing in communities nationwide.

  • Utah updated its General Plan requirements for counties and municipalities to include a moderate-income housing plan element to meet the needs of people of various income levels living, working, or desiring to live or work in the community. Among other requirements, the updated plan mandates jurisdictions adopt at least 3 of 23 recommended strategies.
  • California and Washington have preempted local prohibitions on accessory dwelling units. Other jurisdictions are adopting regulations to allow duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes to be built through by-right zoning.
  • Arkansas prohibits counties from regulating residential building design elements, which include the exterior building color; the type or style of exterior cladding material; the style or materials of roof structures, roof pitches, or porches; the minimum square footage of a structure; and other architectural components.
  • Texas and North Carolina require local jurisdictions to review permit applications within specified time periods, or “shot clocks,” to reduce the time for development approvals.
  • In Maricopa County, Arizona, municipalities formed the Regional Plan Review Group, adopting identical building codes and plan review checklists to simplify development in the region.
  • In Dover, New Hampshire, city officials adopted a plan for context sensitive zoning and implemented a streamlined application and review process to reduce procedural delays and complexity.
  • Boulder, Colorado, built a more inclusive, transparent, collaborative, and interactive community engagement strategy to develop its next-generation housing strategy, which will define community priorities for the expansion and preservation of diverse affordable housing choices.
  • Buffalo, New York, eliminated all parking minimums in its Unified Development Ordinance.

Additional state and local activities to increase housing production are highlighted in a June 2021 report to Congress.

Pamela Blumenthal is a Social Science Analyst at HUD. Regina Gray is Director, Affordable Housing Research & Technology, Policy Development & Research, HUD.

Read the full article here.

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