How can we grow our existing neighborhoods in a way that is sustainable and adaptable?
We need to allow communities to become greener, fairer, and less expensive. Exclusionary zoning, especially single-family zoning has often been used to discriminate based on income. This limits the opportunities available to working families.
Housing costs are rising rapidly in our successful and growing urban areas. However, many people are cut off from or pushed out far from buying a home in our urban areas by high housing costs. We need to ensure our cities remain adaptable, diverse, and inclusive.
Too often small groups of politically active neighborhoods work with local governments to create rules which keep growth and change out. Over time, this distorts development. Single-family zoning and strict regulations contribute to the environmental damage of urban sprawl and create less diverse neighborhoods.
Housing affordability is critical to equitable access to opportunity
Some counties in North Carolina provide great opportunities for individuals to find quality jobs. We’re proud of what we have. Unfortunately, some local leaders abuse their power and act selfishly in the interest of a few wealthier homeowners. Status quo activists use exclusionary zoning to “protect neighborhoods” and drive up costs. We can’t drive our workforce out of our cities which has happened in urban areas in other states. We can fix our development pattern before it is too late.
The New Housing Opportunities We Can Create
There is a better approach to housing affordability for North Carolina’s cities. A better approach is to focus on the freedom to create diverse housing types and expand opportunity. A better approach is to return us to a time when neighborhoods were more resilient and adaptable. A better approach is to allow growth to occur that makes commutes shorter, contributes less to urban sprawl, and does more to protect our environment.
North Carolina can promote a housing affordability plan focused on equitable opportunity for everyone. Students and families need choices among diverse, robust housing options that meet their needs. We need to consider options that don’t tax current residents out of their homes. We need to understand that a renter, young family or retiree should not be pushed out. Cities must be permitted to grow and adapt in ways that make them robust, walkable, diverse, and inclusive. With this approach, we can create a housing affordability policy for a better North Carolina.
Incremental, Inclusive, and Innovative Solutions
Allow duplexes and triplexes by-right wherever single-family homes are permitted in low-density areas. Allow builders to create the “missing middle” housing opportunities where currently exclusionary zoning encourages very large single-family homes.
Support Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) by eliminating off-street parking requirements, owner-occupancy, and minimum lot size requirements. We can increase flexibility by permitting more generous setback, height, and size limits.
Make efficient use of state resources by ensuring transportation dollars are spent on sustainable projects built where people live and work to maximize the impact. Workers and the environment benefit when we ensure development patterns are matched to tax dollars spent on transportation solutions.
Stop funding mega-projects designed for splash and attention and ensure state roads in our urban centers are safe for all modes of transportation.