Affordability is a multifaceted issue that needs to be attacked across SEVERAL fronts. There simply is NO silver bullet that can solve all the individual problems we are facing.
To loosely name a few of the problems, we have policy, zoning, transit and economic (stagnant salaries, high land value, high construction costs) issues that need to be addressed.
There are several changes to the zoning code that can be done to help encourage affordable housing which I highlight below.
- “Missing Middle” & Recalibrating T4 and T5: Miami’s housing market has two extremes single family homes and high rise condos. We are missing all the building typologies in between. In urbanism this is called the “missing middle.” In Miami21 (Miami’s zoning code) these buildings would fall in the T4 and T5 transects. Unfortunately, these transects DO NOT work, which is why they are not being developed. Additionally, these two transects cover very small areas in the City of Miami, instead they should be the majority. The two major handicaps for T4 and T5 are parking and density. The parking requirements is just too high; to satisfy this requirement you need to sacrifice your entire ground floor (or more) to cars. To really make a dent in the affordable housing stock we need build more, smaller buildings with small units. The only way to do this is by increasing density. Please keep in mind increasing density does NOT mean increasing height.
- Eliminate minimum parking requirements: We need the market to dictate the parking needs of a building not the zoning code. By having minimum parking requirements, we are artificially inflating the supply of parking and inducing car use. If a developer would like to build without parking they should have the ability to do so, and the market will dictate if he its viable.
- Allow granny flats in all T3: The granny flat is the quintessential example of affordability for land owners and tenants. Granny flats can significantly increase the housing stock, but also give much needed relief to home owners with a steady flow of rental income. Most of Miami historic homes where already built with ancillary living unit but somewhere along the way they got limited to very specific zoning designations.
- Density bonuses: Currently the zoning code only allows Height Bonuses, which predominantly leads to larger units which are more expensive. By incorporating density bonuses developers have incentives to increase the quantity of units by providing something in exchange. There is a whole world of opportunity here. The city is already beginning to implement this with workforce housing, but we can learn a lot from other cities like Vancouver.
- Transit Oriented Development (TOD): TOD benefits are already incorporated into Miami21 but are not robust enough and need recalibrating. A major factor, is that our transit system is SO limited that the actual areas where the benefits could be implemented is just too small. Other restrictions, like the proximity to T3 transect, is an automatic a deal breaker. Every major transit corridor or transit station is within close proximity to single family residences which renders the benefits unviable.
Zoning codes constantly need to change and adapt to the city’s needs. In many cases the zoning regulations are so restrictive that they unintentionally hinder growth, but they can also be used as catalyst to spur certain types of development.