Saint Paul's Zoning Code uses a definition of the term "family" to regulate the number of unrelated occupants allowed in one residential dwelling unit. The current definition was targeted for study by the 2040 Comprehensive Plan and City Council Resolution 18-1204. Planning staff has proposed three updated options for the Planning Commission to recommend to the City Council for adoption.

Comments will be accepted for Planning Commission review via the form at the bottom of this page until Monday, December 14, 2020 at noon.

Definition of Family Study Definition of Family Study Presentation Definition of Family Study Summary

Background

The Zoning Code's current definition of family was adopted in 1975. It reads:

Family. One (1) or two (2) persons or parents, with their direct lineal descendants and adopted or legally cared for children (and including the domestic employees thereof) together with not more than two (2) persons not so related, living together in the whole or part of a dwelling comprising a single housekeeping unit. Every additional group of four (4) or fewer persons living in such housekeeping unit shall be considered a separate family for the purpose of this code.

Other occupancy regulations are set by the City's Legislative Code (Chapter 34), Minnesota Fire Code, Minnesota Building Code, and Minnesota Residential Code.

This definition limits households that don’t closely conform to the “nuclear family” of two parents and their linearly-related children. In addition to "nuclear family" households, Saint Paul’s population includes:

  • people of cultural traditions and/or multigenerational households with members who may not be related by blood, marriage, or adoption, including vulnerable elders and children;
  • temporary workers, immigrants, post-graduate college students, and others in transitional phases of life that require unique housing options.

Additionally, the Twin Cities Fair Housing Implementation Council found the definition is at risk of being discriminatory or arbitrary and recommends Saint Paul:

  • "...have their definition of "family" more closely correlate to neutral maximum occupancy restrictions found in safety and building codes;"
  • "...increase the number of unrelated persons who may reside together to better allow for nontraditional family types;" or
  • "...create an administrative process that allows for a case-by-case approach to determining whether a group that does not meet the code's definition of family or housekeeping unit is nonetheless a functionally equivalent family." 

Options

Planning staff has proposed three options for recommendation by the Planning Commission. All options allow for any number of minors, and only allows for 4 students per residential unit in the SH Student Housing Neighborhood Impact Overlay District.

  • OPTION 1: “Any Six”
    • Six (6) or fewer adults, together with minor children in their care, living as a single housekeeping unit.
  • OPTION 2: “Family or five”
    • Five (5) or fewer adults, or any number of adults who are all related to each other by blood, marriage, guardianship, or domestic partnership as defined by Chapter 186 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code, together with minor children in their care, living as a single housekeeping unit.
  • OPTION 3: “Family plus four”
    • Any number of adults who are all related to each other by blood, marriage, guardianship, or domestic partnership as defined by Chapter 186 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code and up to four (4) additional adults, together with minor children in their care, living as a single housekeeping unit.

Timeline

Date Body Action
10/2/20 Planning Commission Release study for public comment
11/13/20 Planning Commission Public hearing
December Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee Staff presents public comments, edits, and recommendation
January Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee Recommends preferred option to Planning Commission
January Planning Commission Recommends preferred option to City Council
March City Council Public hearing

Feedback

Comments will be accepted for Planning Commission review via this form until Monday, December 14, 2020 at noon.

Information submitted is considered public data.

Last Edited: December 1, 2020