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 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 go 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. The City is currently in the technical analysis and community engagement stage of this phase.

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

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 will go 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Ways to Engage

Visit the engagement website

Join the conversation and get informed about the study on the engagement website:

  • View information sheets to learn about neighborhood-scale housing, how the City can add more housing, and housing development considerations
  • Take a peek at the Idea Board and Stories tab to share your thoughts on ideal housing types for your household and examples of housing that fits in with the neighborhood
  • Explore an interactive reference map of Saint Paul

Sign up for email updates

Stay up to date with the latest news and opportunities for engagement by subscribing to the 1-4 Unit Housing Study email list.

Participate in an event

This section will be updated as more engagement activities are scheduled.

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

  • Public hearing on Phase 1 text amendments at City Council
    On January 12, 2022, the City Council held a public hearing on the Phase 1 zoning code text amendments (Ordinance 22-1). View the Phase 1 City Council information (study memo, public comment, ordinance, meeting videos and agendas, etc.) 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. View 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. View the Powerpoint presentation or watch the recording of the webinar.

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

Timeline

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

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

November 12, 2021 Planning Commission

Phase 1 Planning Commission vote

January 12, 2022

City Council

Phase 1 public hearing

January 19, 2022 City Council

Phase 1 City Council vote

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

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

Winter 2022

Planning Commission

Phase 2 Public Hearing

Spring 2023

City Council

Phase 2 Public Hearing and Adoption

Last Edited: October 4, 2022