Other Cities' Experience withLarge Infill Housing

Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis, among other cities, have been implementing Missing Middle-type infill for a few years. Officially or effectively, these cities have eliminated single-family zoning. How has affordability and quality of life in these cities changed? Or did it change? Below are links to some articles and books that answer these questions.

7/24/20 Seattle Times: "As Seattle Gentrifies, One-Quarter of Recent Movers Were Forced Out, Survey Shows"


Of the causes for people to move out of Seattle from 2007 to 2014, 5% had their building demolished for new development, 14% saw rents increase beyond their means, and 7% experienced a drop in their income.

6/17/20 The Planning Report: "Minneapolis's Residential Upzoning Risks Unintended Consequences"


The vice president of the Minneapolis Planning Commission (Allysa Leupke Pier) cites effects of eliminating single-family zoning in Minneapolis (on the assumption that more units = more affordability).

• Minneapolis put this plan into effect without consulting stakeholders or soliciting ideas from the public

• One important change in zoning allowed duplexes and tripexes to be built on any single-family lot

• The poor and people of color get disproportionally displaced by gentrification. Blanket upzoning doesn't solve affordability problems.

• Once zoning changes, building lots are grandfathered in to those new uses. You can't undo this.

• In the experience of Minneapolis, most builders of duplexes go cheap to maximize profit.

• Properties without the owner on-site are often become nuisance properties. 75% of the owners of problem houses live elsewhere.

• Higher-profit multifamily housing in neighborhoods attracts large investors, who out-compete locals in purchasing housing

• Most planning campaigns are based on untested theories. Ms Pier believes that this new Minneapolis zoning may actually worsen housing affordability, landlord responsiveness, and quality of life in the next decade or so.

Book: "How to Kill a City : Gentrication, Inequality, and the Fight for Neighborhoods" by P.E Moskowitz  2017

This book reveals the urban planning ideas that have made the problems they were intended to solve worse. The process of how this happened is documented.

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