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 the City.

The 1-4 Unit Housing Study will have two phases. Phase 1 started in Spring 2020, focusing on small housing and small parcels. This phase's proposed amendments were released by the Planning Commission in September 2021 for public review. Phase 2, the more in-depth study, is in a technical analysis stage with input from housing, development, and financial experts; this will be followed by intentional public engagement around zoning and housing. This page will be updated with more details as they are available.

1-4 Unit Infill Study Scope (April 2, 2021) Subscribe to email updates

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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.

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The study will have two phases.

Phase 1 will study the potential to:

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

Phase 2 will study 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.
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Community engagement will begin in Fall 2021. This page will be updated with more details as they are available.

1-4 Unit Infill Study (April 2, 2021) Subscribe to email updates


Body / Major benchmark


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee

Discuss Scope:

Friday, April 2, 2021

Planning Commission

Initiate Study:

September 3, 2021

Planning Commission

Release Phase 1 Memo for Public Comment:

September 28, 2021 Webinar/virtual information session with overview of Phase 1 amendments

Link to meeting to be posted here (note: Will be within Microsoft Teams platform)

October 15, 2021

Planning Commission

Phase 1 Public Hearing

Winter 2021

City Council

Phase 1 Adoption

Fall 2021 - Spring 2022 Community engagement activities Phase 2 options
Winter 2021-Summer 2022 Phase 2 text amendment drafting Phase 2 research and drafting (informed by engagement and technical analysis)

Fall 2022

Planning Commission

Phase 2 Public Hearing

Winter 2022

City Council

Phase 2 Public Hearing and Adoption

Last Edited: September 17, 2021