1-4 Unit Housing Study

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 has two phases. Phase 1 started in Spring 2020, focusing on small housing and small parcels; the amendments were recommended by the Planning Commission in November 2021 and are currently scheduled for a City Council vote on January 26, 2022. (See the Ways to Engage section below for more information on the City Council's 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 Housing Study Scope (April 2, 2021) Subscribe to email updates

Background

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.

Scope

The study will have two phases.

Phase 1 will study the potential to:

  • allow physically smaller homes,
  • reduce restrictions on accessory dwelling units (ADUs), 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Click to see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Ways to Engage

Be sure to sign up for the 1-4 Unit Housing Study email newsletter at the bottom of this page.

This section will be updated as engagement activities become scheduled. Please check back! Engagement will likely include:

  • Informational webinars;
  • Surveys or polls;
  • Discussions facilitated by District Councils and community organizations;
  • Participation in regularly-scheduled community events;
  • Public hearings at the Planning Commission and City Council meetings;

Upcoming events

  • Public hearing on Phase 1 text amendments at City Council (dates yet to be determined)
    On November 12, 2021 the Planning Commission adopted Resolution 21-53, recommending the proposed Phase 1 Zoning Code text amendments for adoption by the City Council. The recommended text amendments were revised slightly in response to the public hearing. The text amendments will appear before the City Council for three readings on dates yet to be determined. The second reading will include a public hearing. This section will be updated once dates are determined.

Past Events

  • Public hearing on Phase 1 text amendments at City Council 
    On January 12, 2022 the City Council held a public hearing on Ordinance 22-1, the Phase 1 amendments. On November 12, 2021 the Planning Commission adopted Resolution 21-53, recommending the proposed Phase 1 Zoning Code text amendments for adoption by the City Council.
  • Public hearing on Phase 1 text amendments at Planning Commission
    The Phase 1 text amendments underwent a public hearing at the virtual Planning Commission meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, October 15, 2021. You can view the original staff report with text amendments and submitted public comment here. Click here for the staff memo summarizing and addressing the public hearing to the Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee.
  • Webinar on proposed Phase 1 text amendments
    On Tuesday, September 28, 2021, PED planning staff presented a webinar introducing the study and outlining the Phase 1 text amendments. Questions were asked by attendees and answered by planners and the Planning Administrator. Click here for the Powerpoint presentation. The webinar can be viewed to the right.

 

Questions or accommodation requests? Contact 1to4HousingStudy@ci.stpaul.mn.us or City Planner Emma Siegworth at 651-266-6657.

Timeline

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

Date

Body / Major benchmark

Action

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

Overview of study and Phase 1 amendments

October 15, 2021

Planning Commission

Phase 1 Public Hearing

January 12, 2022

City Council

Phase 1 public hearing

January 26, 2022 City Council

Phase 1 vote

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: January 18, 2022