It’s the bedrock of the 20th century American Dream: four-walls, a little lawn, and space for a family and personal equity to grow. Over the past 100 years, urban areas in the United States have doubled down on the single-family home as the de facto form of American life. And even with the romantic allure of city living that re-sprouted in the popular imagination in the 1990s—as the apocalyptic urban visions of Shaft and Taxi Driver gave way to the boho congeniality of Friends and Seinfeld—single family homes have remained the dominant mode of living. According to a (perhaps a little dated) 2011 study, 70 percent of Americans live in single-family homes, but 80 percent wish they did.
But cities are starting to alter their assumptions about single-family homes—a development that we’ve commented on before. Today, the New York Times deep-dives into the trend. The report is in response to several recent attempts to change the rules of urban zoning in order to discourage single-family homes and encourage more density. The Oregon legislature is considering a law that would end zoning for single-family homes throughout the state. California is looking to do the same. We’ve written about Minneapolis’ new zoning policy that forbids single-family zoning. And Democratic presidential hopefuls are also talking density.
The causes for debate are all the familiar talking points we hammer away on from time to time in this space.Read More