Sep 20, 2021

Single Family Home Zoning Is Under Attack

Owning a single family home on a little bit of ground has always been part of the American dream; however it does come at a cost.  The land used for single family homes is not then available for multi use residential apartments, duplexes and condos.  And, since our country is now short about 5 million dwellings, there is pressure from some politicians to eliminate single family zoning.  That would be a mistake.  A better solution is to change zoning on obsolete commercial properties to include more multi use residential, higher density living.  

California recently passed a law that would allow a single family homeowner to subdivide the property to build a duplex or even more units on the lot.  This might be acceptable in areas where the homes are 50 years older; but should not be happening in areas with newer homes because it will lead to all sorts of non conforming land use that in the end will devalue remaining home values.  Many areas with much older homes should be redeveloped to include apartments and condos; but that is already happening in many places because ultimately it represents highest and best use for the land.  

Clearly, there are office buildings, malls and other commercial developments that can and should be reinvented to include more housing.   It is already happening; but we should accelerate the trend to make it happen sooner.   Older buildings that are not energy efficient would best be torn down and replaced with new buildings that are energy efficient.  This would kill a few birds with one stone; more housing and lower energy consumption.  

We do need to add to our housing availability in the United States including more affordable housing in many cities.  Higher density is the way to do it; but we need to use common sense not knee jerk political reactions to get there.