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Minneapolis is about to abolish single-family residential zoning

Minneapolis 2040 would allow multifamily housing in single-family neighborhoods

In a move that strikes a blow against decades of racial inequality and could prove to a boon to multifamily developers, the city of Minneapolis is on the verge of ending single-family residential zoning.

The move is part of the “Minneapolis 2040” plan, which was recently approved by the Minneapolis City Council.

Under the plan, duplexes and triplexes would be allowed in neighborhoods that only previously allowed single-family housing.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune provides more details on the plan, which is hardly limited to zoning changes.

From the Star Tribune report:

The 2040 plan has gained national attention for its citywide upzoning. It would allow the construction of multifamily housing, such as duplexes or triplexes, in neighborhoods that for decades have been reserved for single-family homes.

The nearly unanimous vote was a victory for City Council President Lisa Bender, whose advocacy for the plan overcame substantial opposition from residents who said it would lead to the bulldozing of neighborhoods.

Bender said the plan “sets a bold vision for our city to tackle racial exclusion in housing and climate change head on, but it does it in a way that is incremental and that is gentle.”

According to the report, the 2040 plan also seeks to “eliminate racial disparities, fight climate change, increase transportation options and improve access to jobs.”

The report also states the original 2040 plan called for fourplexes to be allowed in single-family areas, but that was lowered to triplexes after the city received thousands of comments on the plan.

The plan received nationwide attention. Slate, for example, called the plan the “most important housing reform in America.”

Here’s a taste of Slate’s coverage of the plan:

Minneapolis will become the first major U.S. city to end single-family home zoning, a policy that has done as much as any to entrench segregation, high housing costs, and sprawl as the American urban paradigm over the past century.

On Friday, the City Council passed Minneapolis 2040, a comprehensive plan to permit three-family homes in the city’s residential neighborhoods, abolish parking minimums for all new construction, and allow high-density buildings along transit corridors.

“Large swaths of our city are exclusively zoned for single-family homes, so unless you have the ability to build a very large home on a very large lot, you can’t live in the neighborhood,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told me this week.

As both reports note, it will likely take a year before the changes in the plan begin to take effect, but the plan will certainly be worth watching as it could prove to be a blueprint for other cities to follow in the future.

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