The Housing System: Rewriting the rules

From revising zoning to permitting backyard homes, how are new rules changing housing density and affordability?

July 17, 2019

Recorded on May 23, 2019.

The Housing System was a six-program series on pressing issues at the intersection of design, policy, and politics in housing in spring 2019.

Regulations are highly contested territory when it comes to housing, affecting issues including affordability, access to resources, and public health. This fourth event in the series looked at efforts in Los Angeles and Minneapolis—including revised zoning to allow backyard homes and repealing parking mandates—to encourage more density, affordability, and a larger variety of housing types in all neighborhoods.

Architect Dana Cuff, spurred by the idea that architects could be more innovative in producing housing, describes her efforts to broadly enable the production of backyard houses in Los Angeles—ultimately co-authoring a state bill allowing secondary units as-of-right, effectively ending single-family zoning in California. Advocate Anton Schieffer of the group Neighbors for More Neighbors explains the organizing work behind the successful passage of the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan, which will permit triplexes citywide and reduce residential parking requirements. They are joined by urban planner Fabiana Meacham, scholar Gianpaolo Baiocchi, and the League’s executive director, Rosalie Genevro, to discuss how these reforms could be relevant for New York.