City of Saint Paul Updates Zoning Code to Support Greater Housing Density

On October 18, the Saint Paul City Council approved landmark changes in the zoning code to expand housing opportunities in the city. The comprehensive updates to the zoning code approved by the City Council provide for greater housing density, accessibility, and affordability incentives while nurturing a diverse and sustainable community.

Visit the 1-6 Unit Housing Development in RL, H1, and H2 Residential Zoning Districts webpage to find more resources and information for property owners and prospective developers on zoning requirements, options for adding housing units, development processes, and other applicable regulations.

Read the press release

Interactive Zoning Map

Look up your property on the interactive zoning map to see the updated zoning as of November 26, 2023.


Saint Paul’s Zoning Code controls how much housing can be built in certain parts of the city. These requirements make it difficult to build enough new housing to fix Saint Paul’s current housing shortage. City Council Resolution 18-1204 and the 2040 Comprehensive Plan call for studying ways to allow more neighborhood-scale housing in all areas of Saint Paul. To accomplish this goal, the City of Saint Paul has initiated the 1-4 Unit Housing Study.

The 1-4 Unit Housing Study has two phases:

  • Phase 1 of the study focused on small housing, accessory dwelling units, and small parcels. These amendments to the zoning code were adopted by the City Council on January 19, 2022, in City Council Ordinance 22-1 and went into effect March 5, 2022.
  • Phase 2, the broader and more in-depth part of the work, is focused on evaluating additional zoning flexibility to support greater housing diversity. Following technical analysis and community engagement, staff drafting of a proposal, a public hearing at Planning Commission, review of public comments, and a recommendation by the Planning Commission on August 18, 2023, the City is now initiating the City Council phase in September - October 2023.

Engagement website   1-4 Unit Housing Study Scope (April 2, 2021)   Phase 1 City Council information   Engagement Summary (May 2022)    Subscribe to email updates


Saint Paul’s population is at an all-time high and expected to keep growing. There is not enough housing available to serve current or future residents.

  • In 2019, rental vacancy rates averaged 4.4%. Well-functioning rental markets should have a minimum 5% vacancy rate.
  • From 2000 to 2017, the number of duplexes decreased by 17%. The number of triplexes and fourplexes decreased by 11%.
  • As of 2017, single-family homes make up 54% of the city’s housing supply. Duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes make up 11%, and multifamily with five or more units make up 35%.

Many renters are also cost-burdened, meaning they pay 30% or more of their income on rent.

  • 22.5% of renters are paying 30% to 50% of their income on rent
  • 25% of renters are paying 50% or more of their income on rent

Rebuilding the disappearing duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes is difficult under today’s Zoning Code.

  • 67% of Saint Paul’s land area is for residential-only uses, and 72% of it only allows for detached, single-family homes.
  • That means duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes cannot be built in 48% of the City.

Allowing additional duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and accessory dwelling units in more areas of the city is a simple way of supplying more housing options to current and future residents.

Study Objectives

  • To increase housing choice within Urban Neighborhoods to meet Saint Paul’s housing needs
  • To increase housing type equity by allowing greater opportunities for neighborhood-scale housing in every neighborhood of the city
  • To once again permit 1-2-unit types by right, which is consistent with Saint Paul history (i.e., before the 1975 zoning code update, these were allowed in residential zones across the city)
  • To encourage and promote reuse of existing homes and infill development in existing neighborhoods, lots, and backyards, while discouraging demolition of existing viable housing
  • To especially empower homeowners and small-scale developers to engage in infill development
  • To encourage the development of family-sized or workforce housing through zoning bonuses
  • To make the zoning code easier to read, navigate, and understand


As mentioned above, the 1-4 Unit Housing Study has two phases.

Phase 1 studied the potential to:

  • allow physically smaller homes,
  • reduce restrictions on accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and
  • allow more than one residential building per lot.

View the Phase 1 City Council information (study memo, public comment, ordinance, meeting videos and agendas, etc.). The Phase 1 amendments went into effect on March 5, 2022.

Phase 2 is studying the potential to:

  • allow duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes in more places,
  • change sizing and other standards to increase the amount of housing options, and
  • allow more types of single-family homes, such as cluster developments, townhomes, and ADUs.

View the Phase 2 City Council information (study memo, public comment, ordinance, meeting videos and agendas, etc.). The Phase 2 amendments go into effect on November 26, 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to see the Frequently Asked Questions. The FAQs are also available in Spanish, Hmong/Hmoob and Somali.

Ways to Engage

Phase 2 amendments

On August 18, 2023, the Planning Commission recommended a package of zoning text and map amendments that will be considered at City Council in September - October 2023. There are multiple ways to learn about the recommended 1-4 Unit Housing Study Phase 2 amendments and share your feedback with the City Council:

Past events

  • Three virtual engagement sessions held in February/March 2022
    • Meeting recording of session #1 that took place on February 1, 2022, co-hosted by the Macalester Groveland Community Council and the Highland District Council.
    • Meeting recording of session #2 that took place on February 10, 2022, co-hosted by the Hamline Midway Coalition, the Como Community Council, and the North End Neighborhood Organization.
    • Meeting recording of session #3 that took place on March 2, 2022, co-hosted by the Dayton's Bluff Community Council, the Southeast Community Organization, and the Greater East Side Community Council.
  • Survey
    An online survey was open from January 28 through March 28, 2022, where over 550 participants provided input on housing types, where they should be allowed, and potential policy changes to allow more housing. See Section 3 of the Engagement Summary to review the survey results.
  • Engagement on the Phase 2 Hearing Draft Ordinance
    • The Planning Commission public comment period was open from March 3, 2023 through April 17, 2023. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on April 14, 2023.
    • Review the staff report memo and overview slides that outline the proposed zoning text amendments from the public hearing draft.
    • Watch a webinar recording on the public hearing draft ordinance (webinar #1 recording | webinar #2 recording)


The table below shows major dates and links to relevant information. See the Ways to Engage section above for engagement-specific dates and events.

DateBody / Major benchmarkAction
Wednesday, September 2, 2020Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee

Discuss scope

Friday, April 2, 2021Planning Commission

Initiate study

September 3, 2021Planning Commission

Release Phase 1 memo for public comment

September 28, 2021Webinar/virtual information session

Overview of study and Phase 1 amendments

October 15, 2021Planning Commission

Phase 1 public hearing

November 12, 2021Planning Commission

Phase 1 Planning Commission vote

January 12, 2022City Council

Phase 1 public hearing

January 19, 2022City Council

Phase 1 City Council vote

Fall 2021 - Spring 2022Community engagement activitiesPhase 2 options
Winter 2021 - Winter 2022Phase 2 text amendment drafting

Phase 2 research and drafting (informed by engagement and technical analysis)

January-February 2023Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning CommitteeAnalysis and proposed zoning code amendments
March 3, 2023Planning Commission

Release Phase 2 memo for public comment

March 28 and 30, 2023Webinar/virtual information session

Overview of study and Phase 2 amendments

April 14, 2023Planning Commission

Phase 2 public hearing

  • Staff report memo that outlines the proposed zoning text amendments from the public hearing draft ordinance
July - August 2023Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee and Planning Commission

Review and recommendation

September - October 2023City Council review and action

City Council considered the Planning Commission's recommendation, holding a public hearing on October 4, 2023, and adopting Ordinance 23-43 on October 18, 2023.  

Ordinance 23-43 is effective on November 26, 2023. 

Last Edited: February 14, 2024