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. Following technical analysis and community engagement, and staff drafting of a proposal, the City is now initiating the Planning Commission review 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


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.

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

There are multiple ways to learn more about the 1-4 Unit Housing Study phase 2 amendments and share your feedback with the Planning Commission:

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 Brown at 651-266-6657.


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


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

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 - Winter 2022 Phase 2 text amendment drafting

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

January-February 2023

Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee

Analysis and proposed zoning code amendments

March 3, 2023 Planning Commission

Release Phase 2 memo for public comment

March 28 & 30, 2023 Webinar/virtual information session

Overview of study and Phase 2 amendments

April 14, 2023 Planning Commission

Phase 2 public hearing

  • Public comments are being accepted through 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 17. Send comments with your full name and address:

  • Testify at the public hearing on Friday, April 14 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, room 40

Late spring/Early summer 2023

City Council

Phase 2 public hearing and adoption

Last Edited: April 18, 2023