Gov. Newsom abolishes single-family zoning in California

Gov. Newsom abolishes single-family zoning in California


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I live in LA I need a car to get to my car


I keep seeing people saying this will help make towns more walkable, etc… trying to make the connection. How does changing the zoning of the houses ease the need for driving, make things more walkable, etc.?


Because denser housing means more people can be closer to the places they need to go. In LA, there are single-family zoned areas within a few minutes’ walk of subway stations, universities, and office towers. Those are the places people most want to live, so they’re likely to add housing quickly under this law. All the people that move to those areas will have less need for cars.


Got it! Simple now that you explain it that way. Thanks.


It all comes down to more density = shorter trips and shorter trips = more walking.


Maybe it's implied in your comment, but more density = more potential customers, meaning stores have more incentive to locate there as they will have more revenue. Thus, stores might open in denser areas that never would have opened in the less densely populated areas before.


The only missing piece is now for them to move away from Euclidean Zoning. If they have large swaths of multi-family zoning without allowing commercial anywhere nearby all you end up with are more people in the area making the same driving trips. With mixed use zoning you can have small grocers, cafes, etc. near the multifamily units so people can walk to them.


When I lived in the suburbs, it was at least a 5 minute drive to and from the grocery. Now that I'm somewhere more dense, it's a two minute walk to a grocery, four minute walk to the nearest ER, 7 minute walk to the light rail, 2 minutes to the nearest pot shop, and there are more than five parks and P-Patches within a 10 minute stroll. There are drawbacks vs suburbs, but for me the pros way outweigh the cons, and the amount saved on transport is noteworthy.


imagine a suburb with housing spread out. If you had a business on every street corner they would go out of business because there's not enough people in the area to shop there. So businesses have to be just as spread out as the houses are. When houses are close together, a business can move closer to them and still get the same number of customers. Let's say (fake hypothetical numbers incoming) theres 1000 people in a mile radius and 1 business can survive on 1000 people in walking distance. If a second business moves in they split the 1000 people to be 500 each and both businesses go out of business. Next year the city population doubles in the same square mile. Now a second business can move into their city and be profitable! Now you have 2 businesses within walking distance for these people. Rinse and repeat the more dense a population is, the more businesses there can be closer to the people


Coming from Australia, I would love to see little corner stores here that I can walk to instead of getting in the car and driving to a big box.


Here in LA(Edit- Los Angeles) out side of a few gated communities here and there most are within a 15 minute walk to a liquor store or Dollar General type store. The issue is they all are just have snack food. Most don’t even have milk, they never have fruit. It’s far from a situation where I can survive off what they offer. You really need to drive somewhere to acquire what you need for the week. Edit- Another thing interesting about LA. There are a lot of non housing areas that never seem to get any use. IE before driving to the closest grocery store(Aldi) I go by 3 candle stores, 4 Psychics, 6 church’s,… Those small stores and church might have less visitors in a week than aldi gets in 10 minutes. We need to somehow fix this. Laws like this sound great we probably need a mindset change too.


The fully functional city block is step one. You stop building everything so far away that you can't get what you want without driving. Step two is a functional public transit system that is thorough, on time, and not dangerous. But the auto and oil industries will never go for it. And since they're the government, we can't make it happen.


The automobile industry lobbied for zoning like this to space things out and promote car purchases. Can't afford a car? They DAF since you can't afford a car to buy from them anyway. GM and many other companies have previously attempted to buy out all of the streetcars and buses in various cities [in an attempt to dismantle them, but settled on fully controling their needed resources.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy) >Between 1938 and 1950, National City Lines and its subsidiaries, American City Lines and Pacific City Lines—with investment from GM, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California (through a subsidiary), Federal Engineering, Phillips Petroleum, and Mack Trucks—gained control of additional transit systems in about 25 cities.[a] Systems included St. Louis, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Oakland. NCL often converted streetcars to bus operations in that period, although electric traction was preserved or expanded in some locations. Other systems, such as San Diego's, were converted by outgrowths of the City Lines. Most of the companies involved were convicted in 1949 of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce in the sale of buses, fuel, and supplies to NCL subsidiaries, but were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the transit industry.


They were only fined $6. None were commanded to put things back the way they were.


back in the good old days of "dohohoho, you got me good!" what the fuck even is this country


hate to tell you but we're still in the "dohohoho, you got me good!" days


City of Los Angeles is planning a fairly elaborate rail system before the Olympics. We’ll see if it happens but it’s the first serious plan in my lifetime.


I live right by the where the extended purple line is supposed to end, on Wilshire by UCLA. It's supposed to be finished by 2028, and they've already been doing construction for about a year, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. On a somewhat unrelated note, UCLA has been having issues of not having enough on campus housing for years, and as soon as the 2028 Olympics were announced they started building multiple new dorms. UCLA is going to be the Olympic Village, and they realized having 3 people in a 10 foot square dorm wasn't up to Olympic standards I guess lol.


Utah got their rail system for the 2002 olympics, and olympic village dorm rooms too. Both have been very nice to have since then, but especially the rail system.


It's frustrating that I live in a dense neighborhood in my city, adjacent to probably 4-5 commercial produce distributors. But they don't sell to the public and I have to drive to buy any of that produce, the corner stores only sell your typical doritos & lottery tickets.


> Another thing interesting about LA. There are a lot of non housing areas that never seem to get any use. If you think that's bad in LA, you should see the bay area. The town I grew up in has numerous empty/almost empty shopping centers that should have been demolished decades ago and replaced with something that would use the space.... like housing! Or a park! Or something. Anything! Instead it's "here's where the KMart used to be, here's where JCPenney was in the 50s... here's where Walmart used to be before they closed down and opened a supercenter the next town over"... and then sometimes the decrepit old buildings turn into spirit halloween or a flea market or something.


Mixed use communities in CA should be a no brainer. The weather is gorgeous. Walking and bike all year round is doable. Car dependency eats up to much real estate and adds huge maintenance costs to local govts while also burdening citizens with added transportation expenses.


I helped design a 20 acre site outside LA in a planned community. Our first proposal was an awesome mixed use development with tons of retail space. Was going to be awesome. The people in charge of planning decided no, we’re going to split the site in half. One half will be strictly single family, the other half will be strictly multi family. And the retail? On the other side of a 6 lane major highway. They’re building a pedestrian bridge because it’s the only safe way to cross. Developers want mixed use, like you said Cali is perfect for that development, but local govs are too stupid to actually allow it. Edit: I want to add, this was for a retirement community as well. They'd rather have senior residents walk 1/2 mi minimum plus use a pedestrian bridge than provide a solution that gives them everything they need within steps of their home.


Planners that I deal with routinely destroy incredible mixed use proposals. I have a client who is trying to do a depression era residential design with cluster homes sharing an alley drive that has commercial all along the main road. We’ve gotten planning resistance every step of the way to the point where we had to get the Mayor involved to tell planning to stop it


What excuse do planners have, for behaving that way? It’s not like they are being paid by lobbyists or special interest. There’s no money in it for planners. Is it something about they way they were educated, or a habit they picked up for other planners?


This is just not true. Planning is done by laws passed by council or legislative branch. US planners have way less leeway than Europe or even Canada because all of the lawsuits. If it's a permitted use in zoning law you can do it. Most of the time it's planners seeking to get out of Euclidean zoning and the NIMBYs refusing to change the law. Planners are a part of the administrative branch and their decisions are quasi-judicial meaning it has to be based on the law...


Ding ding ding, this is the answer. Planners don’t like the current zoning situation any more than the developers do, but we can’t decide to unilaterally ignore existing zoning regulations. Its a shitty situation because we get all of the blame but have none of the say.


This is exactly why I didn't get in the field. I studied environmental science and planning in college and then finally had an opportunity speak with a real bonafide city planner and soon realized you're not playing SimCity 2000 in the flesh. It seemed like he was powerless to really do anything but advise based on zoning guidelines.


happy to chime in here. I studied env science, and am now a planner with a city. I am shocked by how ingrained the "follow the rules, follow the zoning code" mindset is among very smart and experience planners. Yes planners are nearly "powerless" but some light pushback would be nice!


A small non-profit sports league I was involved with got so fucked because of zoning. Oh, this area is protected and has a ton of restrictions because it's in a polluted industrial zone? No recreation or sports venues allowed. Oh, you only get a couple hundred fans there once every month? Still no. Oh, but we're totally cool with this paint manufacturer setting up shop in the warehouse instead... The one on the bank of the river this protective zone is meant for... Oh, and this other guy with actual wealth and lots of city connections who runs a for-profit sports league? Oh yeah, he gets an exemption


I think a lot of it is "this is how we have always done it."


All of the policies they follow were written in the 1960s, and no one dares change. The 1960s, which is the same decade all the major cities were being bisected by freeways (conveniently routed through Black majority neighborhoods), and the same decade where they started building "The Projects"


> administrative branch and their decisions are quasi-judicial meaning it has to be based on the law A lot of "this is how we have always done it" with a generous helping of "if you build stuff people without cars can get to, then people without cars will come here" And the craziest homeless derelicts don't have cars. Plenty of mobile junkies driving around in cars without catalytic converters looking for shit to steal, but this is a relatively new phenomenon.


Lots of 1960s urban planning is still on the books. Legally speaking its hard to build anything *other* than sprawling single-family burbs where cars are an absolute necessity. Most multi-family units that do get through are challenged in court, so its only worthwhile to the devs to propose units that cram maximum humans/area. Not Just Bikes is an excellent YouTube for this.


I work in land development and concur that local governments are frequently the biggest issue for intelligent development


One major problem is that all over the nation people get these city commission and planning jobs based on their political ideologies and not their qualifications. How one feels about the 2nd Amendment, Abortion, etc in no way equates to city planning. People are out in charge of major infrastructure projects based on how they feel about taxes rather than how they feel about traffic matrixes.


At this point, given one party's reactions to COVID, ideology does have real world consequences. When one party's ideology is "let us prove government can't work for the people by making sure it doesn't", you don't need them in to sabotage things.


One of the great things about Japan was their weird zoning laws. You'd be walking around a rural neighborhood then BAM, small bar or restaurant. I don't know how much money those kind of places make but it was just cool that your community could have something like that. Imagine a shitty subdivision or residential area that could have small businesses that cater that community that people could easily walk to.


It's not even weird to have a small bar or restaurant in a residential area. That's how a lot of the world works. Putting normal human activities in places where people actually live is pretty sensible, and how things have been done from the beginning of human history up until the auto industry convinced America to drive everywhere, bulldozing cities, building parking lots and highways where there used to be thriving downtowns, building separated suburbs with fuck all to do, and putting all the businesses on huge and unwalkable stroads. Pre-car, every city and town was walkable, because what the fuck else were people going to use to get around?


> stroads I know what youtube channel you watch lol


lol I just recently started watching these too and I recognized the word... when I told my wife about a stroad she was like omg yes that's exactly it!


Also deliberately building highways through black neighborhoods to disrupt them and force people out.




I don’t know how we ever accepted car pollution in the first place. Have you ever ridden behind a car from the 1960’s? The gas fumes will make you sick. Electric cars are simply so much nicer. They emit no fumes, and less than half the noise.


I was behind a classic Thunderbird convertible with the driver smoking a cigarette, and the proustian sense memory instantly brought me to my childhood where everything reaked of exhaust and tabacco.


Oh my god your statement just brought me back to it, too. Remember how some friends’ houses just *reaked* and some stores smelled like the worst place imaginable? Specifically: the waiting room in jiffy lubes.


Smoking sections in restaurants for that matter. Or just smoking in general. People still do it of course but it seems far more private than it ever did growing up. And the further you go back the more smoking at seemingly every moment seemed acceptable. Watching old television and seeing even news anchors smoke is a trip.


So I'm from Italy, where smoking in public businesses had been banned for all of my adult life, many years ago I visited Greece, where it was still legal.... It was unbelievable.


Diesel exhaust is also a real bad deal for those communities near or split by freeways, even after first the sunseting of leaded gas and then it's outright ban.


This thread of comments is basically the story of Los Angeles in a nutshell.


It misses the whole “we drained a lake and stole a valley’s water and left a $2bn/year dust mitigation project in our wake” storyline.


Well, yeah, but sadly, that's not surprising when history of the area includes [Black families having their beach property had stolen](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce%27s_Beach), [Chinese residents targetted in race riots](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_massacre_of_1871), and [the local missions every 4rth grader in the state has to build models of, were actually more like work camps that spread genocidal disease](https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-madley-california-genocide-20160522-snap-story.html). Chinatown is a better movie for not trying to skim over the ugly parts of LA's history.


Man, I remember having to build those missions back in elementary in CA in the very early 90's. Took field trips after we were done building them, and of course no one brought up that kind of stuff to us.


dont forget how the CA government authorized a "vermin" hunt to get rid of lingering native tribes.


And the Bronx


Kind reminder to thank the creater of that problem in NYC by saying Fuck you Robert Moses


Seattle as well, I-5 runs right through the middle of downtown though to be fair they didn'thave a ton of options here. We will most likely put a lid over parts of it to get some valuable real estate back.


Which they're still fucking doing https://www.blackenterprise.com/black-neighborhood-set-to-be-destroyed-to-build-new-highway-in-south-carolina-leaving-hundreds-displaced/


Or making bridges so low that buses can't go under then. Or making public swimming pools in black neighborhoods colder so black people wouldn't use them. Or attempting to destroy battery park. Or all the poor neighborhoods that got destroyed for the FDR drive and 12th Ave Robert Moses did a ton of damage to the US when every city planner tried to copy him. I highly recommend reading the Power Broker https://youtu.be/LmC5T-2d6Xw


It’s unreal how someone could leave a lasting legacy that makes our lives measurably worse because of racism.


Can you provide more info about the pool thing?


If anybody takes issue with your use of the word deliberately, doing this accidentally is worse. If these homes were selected because of the lack of value of the homes, and the families lacked the resources to protect their neighborhoods, it's down to segregation policies that caused that generational wealth disparity.


If they had to choose between a poor black neighborhood and an equally poor white neighborhood at any time before like 12 years ago which one would they have chosen?


They were worth less money because of Redlining so minorities were forced into the least desirable areas. Oh look, we should put a highway where all those poor people didn't take care of their properties.


"Putting all the businesses on huge, unwalkable roads" I really hate that this is the norm for everything in the middle of the country. I've lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life. Our cities are extremely walkable, defined by their neighborhoods. We're moving to Nashville because buying here is hilariously impossible. Nashville is, for the most part, connected by highways. With strip malls and spotty businesses here and there, with nary a sidewalk to be seen. It's just bad.


As I get older more the more I learn about the US the less I appreciate the US. Special interests have unilaterally dismantled all community and culture it seems.


"Community" is a subtle term that when used inappropriately, can have different meanings to different people. Me being a PoC, I seen the term "community" tossed around by racists who are hostile to anyone that isn't white. In my city, there are actual communities where everyone is inclusive. I don't think areas like Lompoc, Monterrey, Lake Arrowhead, areas where they say "community" really mean it. The US is and always will be an individualistic society set out to earn what is theirs and fuck anyone who gets in the way. Do I like that type of society? Of course not. Yet, Gov. Newsom signed a bill that " supporters hail it as a necessary way to combat the state’s persistent housing crisis and **correct city zoning laws that have contributed to racial segregation**." We still fighting the same ol' fight that MLK did, just the players have changed while the game remains the same.


We have that in Texas too but instead of a nice restaurant or bar, it’s a gas station or a Title Max. That’s the same……right??? Love those Title Maxes


Isn't Barcelona known for this exact thing? Like every housing facility also has street level commerce, all wrapped around community areas... https://i.redd.it/x3h9w54nedw21.jpg


i stayed in an airbnb there and it was above a mojito bar, so needless to say they got my patronage. fun story, the bartender let me order in god-awful spanish for 2 days before telling me she was actually from milwaukee.


We stayed in an airbnb above a gelato shop in Riomaggiore. Not quite the same as big city stuff, but cool nonetheless


That is fucking funny, I like her.


That’s how Taipei is. It was awesome. I could walk to a grocery store or any kind of small family run restaurant all around me apt. Tokyo is really nice for it, too.


Taipei is probably one of the world's best examples of a compact, (fairly) clean, accessible, safe, and vibrant city. I've lived here for seven years. Within a ten minute walk of my Da'an apartment there are hundreds of restaurants. A ten minute bike opens up a thousand more restaurants along with literally any other service I'd ever need. The metro is, for my money, just about the world's best - flawlessly clean, train wait times are never more than a few minutes, and connects literally anywhere you'd want to go in Taipei/New Taipei City. Beaches? Hikes up waterfalls? A short bus away. Other cities? A short jaunt on the HSR. All of this while still being reasonably inexpensive and with a near zero chance of ever being the victim of a crime of any type. I would argue that no other major city comes close to offering the across the board high standard of essentially everything that Taipei does that just makes it super, super livable.


Superblocks are the shit.


Another term is *Khrushchyovka* for the ones the Soviets used as their housing model when they had millions of peasants to house and no buildings to put them in, and needed a good basic design. Japanese *danchi* are broadly similar, too, all built by the government to rapidly promote universal housing. The idea was that any given resident would never be more than a few hundred meters from school, groceries, and transit to get where they needed that was farther away, with larger facilities like hospitals being built every *few* community blocks instead of in each one. It's why many Russian or Eastern bloc cities today look *like that*, with the big square blocks with green spaces between them. Whether in Barcelona or Moscow, it's a demonstrably superior layout for cities, and an example of what happens when the lives of citizens are a concern for developers, and not maximal profit.


Is it named after Khrushchev?


Yes. There was a prior housing initiative under Stalin, but the designs were not nearly as popular or well-promulgated, so the next generation, if you will, became the most commonly seen variety in the USSR, as they were generally well-liked. During this period, remember, the average Soviet ate *better* than the average American worker, and items like the policy of 4% of income being your housing charge made the American government *very* anxious. The dynamic at the time was *very* different than people recall from the 1980s, and in that era, the USSR had several material advantages in living standards over the United States for the bottom-level workers, that eventually fell behind throughout the 1960s and 1970s when stagnation occurred. This is where a principal portion of the suburbanization movement came from, ideologically. American planners realized we *had* to promote housing to match the Communist achievements for their workforce, but we didn't want to simply crib their model, *obviously*, we had to build our own counterexample, because clearly doing the opposite of the USSR, always, is a good rule for urban planning. The results have been as one could predict- collapsing infrastructure and skyrocketing municipal debt because roads are expensive as hell. In many ways, the USA of 2021 *is* the USSR of the Brezhnev era now, in terms of our stagnation, political disengagement, and common lack of trust or belief in the capability of central authorities. We spent decades constructing our society as an antithesis to what we *perceived* them to be, and without an enemy to be defined clearly *against*, we have no true identity of our own beyond power. The era of eternal politics has begun, and soon will end, as it did for the Soviets. Everything will be forever until one day, it will simply be no more. Hopefully the next regime in the States will be better, but I am very dubious at the moment.


Literally everywhere on earth is like this except the US


Hell, even in California it happens. I was just up in San Francisco for business and street level is all the shops and businesses. Above them are the housing units. It's actually rare, from what I saw, to have a building be dedicated to just one thing. Theatres and hotels and really really rich companies seem to be the exception.


We have a lot of this in California. The first floor of my building is a coffee shop and a business office. Two blocks down is a house with a restaurant on the ground level.


It’s actually always been a dream of mine to live in an apartment above a business. I’m not sure why, I’m probably romanticizing it a lot, but I just really like the idea of coming down to the convenient store or the Chinese restaurant right under my apartment.


That's how all of Spain is. That's how most of Europe lives. That's how most of the world is. The system in the US is a result of car companies and oil companies lobbying in the 1950s and 1960s - and combined with advertising of that era selling the supposed "American Dream" of a nice car, a nice single family home in a quiet, mono-chromatic suburb away from the downtown where your parents had grown up, probably in squalor It is also a result of "white flight" in the period between1940-1970s. During that period millions of blacks migrated from the rural South to urban areas in the north of the US. Millions of white families then left urban downtowns in order to get a house in the suburbs.


As a European, it's strange to me that you think that's strange.


I would love a real local pub in the neighborhood liKe in the UK. They’re everywhere.


Not where i live. 90-105°+ for most of summer is not walking/bike weather.


Where I live in NJ I can easily walk to restaurants, bars, parks, community center, groceries, it's great. I have transit to NYC on my block, and my kids can easily walk to any of their schools from our house. I can't imagine being in one of those places where I'd have to drive everywhere.


I've lived in NJ most of my life and some towns are like that, but many are not. My hometown was the epitome of car-centric suburbia. You had to drive everywhere.


The Not Just Bikes episode about the missing middle is a great explainer as why this is great: https://youtu.be/CCOdQsZa15o


The law Newsom just signed says it can include "up to 4 units" on a residential lot. I would love to see what some of these buildings look like.


We have a bunch of these in Buffalo, ny. A lot of them are old massive houses that are subdivided usually into 3 or 4 places. They look like houses. Some times they look like old 1800s city mansions.


Here we call them duplex, triplex, quadplex.


Other options are townhomes, row homes, mansion apartments, courtyard apartments, cottage courts, primary + accessory dwellings. All are better ways to develop housing than SFHs on large lots subsidized by massive parking accommodations and road construction.


No lie, I love courtyard apartments. Grew up in one for a little bit, and every holiday was always special. So long as you don’t just take a “my culture is the only culture,” approach it can be really good living. Not like some complexes, where it’s just really good sleeping around one another. If you get at least two good groups in them it can be a blast.


I lived in one for about 4 years. A few Halloweens/NYEs/July 4ths I didn't even make it off the property because there was so much going on right outside our doors. Cookouts and porch cocktails all merging into one spontaneous block party.


Some of those houses are gorgeous. Nothing better than walking up and down Lafayette creeping on people's houses lol And they look like 1800s mansions because they are 1800s mansions.


Here you go, particularly the Fourplex and Subdivision categories— https://lowrise.la/winners


I grew up in a 3 famly home (all my family, but each floor was its own apartment), it's the norm in densely populated areas, [they look like this](https://ap.rdcpix.com/019e5a36b051fa87dac7e3405001cc56l-m232937972od-w1024_h768.webp)


There is an “owner occupant” requirement in the law that says you must live in one of the units. I think that’ll end up keeping the housing numbers low. Many people want to own a rental property, but they don’t want to live on site with their tenants. Hopefully things will be better, but the LA Times cited data that estimated only 1.9% of property owners will take advantage of the new law.


>I would love to see what some of these buildings look like. [Here's One](https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz8biXxZt-s)


That's helpful! Also gives me a name so I can search for more! Here's a good gallery if anyone else is interested: https://missingmiddlehousing.com/types/fourplex/


I found the Not Just Bikes channel recently and ended up watching nearly all his videos. It's completely opened my eyes to the insanity that is US car centric suburbs and how impractical and unsustainable they are. I think the US is headed towards a major crisis that no one seems to be talking about as more and more towns and cities go bankrupt because they go more and more into dept trying to sustain their ridiculously expensive and crumbling road infrastructure. The US has gone all in on its car centric suburbs and its utterly failed, and we will pay the price in the next couple decades. It will take a long process to turn it around, but changing zoning laws is a great way to start. The rest of the country needs to do this, and fast.


on the other hand, so many people are talking about this!!! there are subs like /r/fuckcars and /r/WalkableStreets but yes, suburbia has failed and I love how not just bikes talks about how they lose money instantly and how we need walkable density


Thanks for sharing those subs! Didn't know about them before. I'm so tired of the un-walkable, depressing, and difficult to move around in cities in the US. I want grocery stores and restaurants and all that in walking distance.


Thank you for mentioning this! This video was the first thing I though of when I read this headline!


Misleading caption- not OP’s fault. OP followed the sub’s rule 4, which states that post titles must be the exact headline from the article. In this instance the caption of the news article is misleading. The headline makes it look like Newsom did this on his own by executive order. He did not. What he did was sign a series of bills into law, bills that passed in both houses of the state legislature. He may have supported the legislation, but he didn’t act singlehandedly.


I noticed that, too. It seems like they were trying to stir up controversy for clicks.


I don't know why you would think that they were being sensationalist. Every morning I ABOLISH my morning breath by brushing my teeth and EVISCERATE my coffee beans by grinding them. Like and Subscribe to learn more.


Thank you! I’m reading this and thinking, this might be a good idea but shouldn’t the legislature be making these decisions? Glad to see they are.


This is actually a pretty serious issue with reporting. The sort of built in biases that allow for you to tell a true story whilst still being it to serve a goal purpose.


This won't be an instant fix for California's housing crisis, but it's an important step in the right direction. Single-family zoning is one of the main reasons most North American cities grew into examples of car-dependent suburbia. These are suburbs that are unwalkable, economically and environmentally unsustainable, and much less liveable than international counterparts with more sensible zoning laws. Have you ever noticed how you have to drive if you want to do anything? Or how most of a city's surface area is dedicated to parking? Or how every shopping center seems to be a strip mall with the same few stores? This is one of the major reasons. It's been a hot topic in urban planning in recent years.


You just punched Phoenix right where its soul would be, if it had one.


The city that is a monument to man's arrogance


Dang it, Bobby.


6am and already the boy ain't right


> The city that is a monument to man's arrogance New Orleans would like a below-sea-level word.


New Orleans actually has a reason to exist, at least, and wasn't below sea level when it was first established. I can understand the reluctance to move it now that neither of those things is quite as true as it was before. Eventually those things will become even less true and the issue will be forced, though.




And yet, New Orleans still makes more sense than Phoenix


As a Mesa resident, it was justified.


Florida can relate. I swear you can drive all up and down the peninsula and no matter which half-ass major town you’re in they’ll all look the same. It’s bewildering. Tricky-tacky little boxes that all look just the same…That are all surrounded by strip malls filled with the same chains…Carrabbas, BBB, Starbucks, Target, etc. etc. Like no regional character at all anymore. Not for a long time, and it just getting worse.


Wisconsin is like this. All the small towns look the same and have the same shitty fast food chains, awful strip malls.


Allow me to short circuit further replies about by saying that *all of America* is like this. And Canada, too, for that matter. The older the city, the better suited it is for a walking culture. If it began before cars were invented you're in a good place. You've got dense residential with a commercial presence just blocks away. Toronto and New York are the best examples of this I've seen. San Francisco and Seattle have this in pockets. But 99% of the rest of the cities and towns in North America are copy and paste cultural wastelands.


>The older the city, the better suited it is for a walking culture. If it began before cars were invented you're in a good place. Unless someone decided to "deslum" your liveable, walkable old city and replace it with parking lots and highways, and then wonder why after said self-kneecapping, the population and economy have been stagnant for fifty years. Sound familiar, St. Louis?


Yeah , it shouldn’t be a problem as Phoenix stores it’s soul in a horcrux. But it forgot where it left it…..


Melted while walking across the blacktop to the covered parking spot.


We need to find Phoenix’s horcrux! It’s in a parking lot’s blacktop! Let’s see how many parking lots we need to destroy! *looks at satellite map of Phoenix* Mother of god…..


We’ve eliminated one. … They built four more in the same time. 🤦‍♂️


Phoenix, at least, does a better job of the forced driving experience than other places. Like it's still shit, but at least it's not Houston or something truly awful, so you can travel the 10 miles by car you need to in a reasonable and pain free amount of time. If you own a car, which you have to. I did much prefer Portland though, for so so many reasons.


Hell, even some of our music venues are in strip malls.


Hey now, that's a key part of the Yucca Tap Room's elegant and enticing ambiance! That place is amazing.


If there was a city that could use radiant energy this would be the one.


Houston in shambles


I grew up in a suburb of NYC, and while some things were pretty far away, I could walk pretty much ANYWHERE in town, or to any of the neighboring towns, via sidewalk. Every road, except for some purely residential ones, had a sidewalk. Where I live now, there are plenty of roads with no sidewalk, and plenty of those roads don't even have a shoulder. Walking seems like a great way to get yourself killed.


Lots of American cities were like NY in their early days. Dynamic, walkable, bustling. This was the norm for a long time. Then postwar urban planners wanted to rebuild cities around the car, and here we are.


My grandparents lived in Detroit and I remember they walked to the bakery and butcher and picked up their bread and meat whenever they needed it. Many shop owners lived above their stores. My Mom walked to her elementary school.


>they walked to the bakery and butcher and picked up their bread and meat whenever they needed it. Many shop owners lived above their stores. I no longer live in the US but I did for 5 years while I was a student, I couldn't imagine a life like the one you just described back then. I'm currently living it in the UK with my butcher's being across the street from the greengrocer which is next to the bakery. I don't own a car, and haven't needed one since moving here.


Driving through Detroit today, you can easily see how this was possible, even if much of the buildings have fallen into various states of disuse/ruin. Its almost haunting how you can *feel* what the once-thriving community was like.


The NY suburbs have some of the oldest towns in America, and many of them survived the car-pocalypse of the mid 20th C. It's super fortunate and great for the people who live there.


There's a guy on twitter that goes around posting shots of US cities from the 20s and 30s and it amazes me how much currently some cities like Dayton and KC look nothing like their pre-war counterparts.


I think a lot of it had to do with white flight as well. Wealthy people wanted to leave the growing minority presence in urban areas and moved farther and farther out from urban cores. Of course, cities catered to these people with roads and infrastructure. It spiraled into what we have today


Yep! My town in NJ was like 2 miles by 2 miles. We had one Main Street and we have a movie theater, pool hall, roller rink, and shops/restaurants all on that Main Street. Now I live in California. Nothing is walkable in comparison.


I moved to NY 6 years ago and have been car free for that entire time. I live in harlem (westside) and it amazes me to this day how much is in reach within walking distance. Within a 10 minute walk I have; Four coffee Shops (not counting Starbucks or Dunkin) Two Grocery stores + WholeFoods God knows how many bodegas three Laundromats A Movie theater 12+ Fast food joints 12+ restaurants ranging from french american cuisine to soul food. Multiple Pharmacy's Three Bakeries Urgent Care Six dentist, maybe more Three gyms A whole fuck ton of shopping Two giant as Parks. Multiple Hardware stores 7 churches Three wine + liquor shops One GINORMOUS Liquor shop four barber shops + one who cuts hair out of a van ​ The only three things missing in my neighborhood that would make ideal place for me personally to live are; a good Asian restaurant, a nice ice cream joint and cheap rent. ​ Compared that to when I lived in Columbia MO, within ten minute walk I had: University of Columbia and a fucking Dairy Queen. ​ And compare that to when I lived in Suburban Antonio, Texas, within a ten minute walk I was still in the same suburban neighborhood.


I visited NYC a couple years ago and one thing I noticed is that I basically never needed a car. I walked and took the subway and that got me to literally everywhere I needed to go. I only used a car to get back to the airport.


It’s definitely a slow burn. In Minneapolis you can see some four unit buildings that have gone up since we changed our zoning, but you have to really look for them. The slow burn isn’t all bad though. The gradual change means less pushback as the NIMBY crowd slowly gets used to it.


Minneapolis was the first place I thought of when I saw this. Change on the ground is going to be slow and incremental, but I think the more exciting thing is the recognition among policymakers that there's a better way of doing things.


Strongtowns and notjustbikes channels on youtube cover these very topics.


Notjustbikes is the reason I cannot get the concept of a "stroad" out of my head and now that I'm aware of their design flaws I cannot stop thinking about them every time I'm behind the wheel.


It’s the futon of urban planning: ineffective street and a less than optimal road.


Discovered the NotJustBikes channel the other day and his video on why he hates Huston, Texas is pretty accurate. Shocking stuff once you view American city's from the eyes of a man that's lived in just about every part of the world. American suburbs REALLY did ruin the joys of walking.


City Beautiful is great, too.


If you like to read, Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is the *bible* on city planning for the post-suburban world.


We literally don't have this sort of thing in Germany. We don't have gated communities or suburbia here. Our suburbs are just like the inner city, but perhaps a bit less densely built.


I'm a Brit who moved to America in my late 20s. I had never, in all my life up to then, seen roads in cities that just *didn't have sidewalks* until that point. Out in the country or between towns, sure; but IN a city, hell between two adjacent blocks as often as not - just road going straight into walls or fenced-off property with nowhere for foot traffic to go.


It's a start, bit I don't expect real urban change until we learn to create high-population arcologies that are pleasant places to live.


Yep. For example my city is replacing a lot of the near suburbs with apartment complexes. But there is nothing else being built, no public spaces, no sidewalks, no retail built into the new buildings, no new infrastructure at all. So now traffic is a nightmare and you still need to drive to get to anything.


and it would seem like such a no brainer to lease the bottom floor apartments to small stores of some kind. Maybe remodel them, combine a few into a grocery. It would be like printing money.


Mixed use zoning allows this where multifamily zoning does not. But it's SO NICE to have businesses under your housing! The one thing I miss from my high rise apartment was having a deli and a 7-11 RIGHT there. It was ridiculously convenient.


I grew up in an urban area and it wasn’t until traveling for work that I realized how much something like this bugged me. I spent most of my week in the car. I couldn’t even walk to the restaurant I could see from my hotel room.


The interesting thing is that these sorts of places don't need to be created. They form organically, as long as you don't put in artificial barriers to their development like single-family zoning. Think of how dynamic and lively a European or East Asian city is compared to a sprawly North American city.


I just want scifi cities with floating spires, endless waterfalls cascading off of stone and crystal skyscrapers with Babylonian style hanging gardens type greenery hanging off the edges. Is that so much to ask?


The hilarious part is that this will actually make some housing MORE valuable.


For anyone not 100% familiar with the term single-family zoning like myself, here's a quick excerpt stolen from Wikipedia: >Single-family zoning is a type of zoning in the United States that restricts development to only allow single-family detached homes. It prevents townhomes, duplexes, and multi-family housing (apartments) from being built on any plot of land with this zoning designation.[1][2] It is a form of exclusionary zoning,[3][4][5] and was created as a way to keep minorities out of white neighborhoods.[1][3][5] It both increases the cost of housing units and decreases the supply.[6]


Right, so, to be clear to those who haven't quite gotten it yet, 'abolishes single family zoning' is legalizing a much larger range of housing types. NOT making single-family homes illegal.


>'abolishes single family zoning' is legalizing a much larger range of housing types. NOT making single-family homes illegal. Yep, that's an important point that's often misunderstood. EDIT: one way to think of it, is that cities can no longer use zoning laws to ban duplexes, so duplexes will be allowed in all neighbourhoods. But they'll still only be built if the property owner *wants* to build a duplex on their property. Nobody is forced to build one instead of a single-family house


Don't expect the right-wing talk show circuit to honestly convey this. Look at the asinine intellectual titty-twisters they did with "defund the police" and "critical race theory".


Dang it, I did all that work to prep for my new forced roommates for nothing?


Multi-use zoning is a huge step forward for cycling infrastructure, walkable communities, passive surveillance and more financially solvent towns. And hopefully it does something for California's homeless problem.


Genuinely curious how this would affect the homeless problem?


Because having more housing units available makes it easier to get homeless people off the street and into those units. It's definitely not a silver bullet, because homelessness typically comes with a host of other problems like substance abuse and mental health issues, but simply making sure there are homes available at all will help.


More housing = less cost for housing = people that are just barely homeless suddenly can afford a place to live = less homeless = better homeless to help ratio = even less homeless = more people paying taxes = more money = more prosperous communities = everyone getting better. All this assuming greed doesn't come along at any point in this and ruin everything again (Likely to happen)


We were on a private wine and weed tour in SF and up to Mendocino, and had a great conversation with our guide and driver. The only awkward topic was housing. I suggested SF and CA generally would have to build more multi-family housing to address the problem, and it got quiet for a minute. Then back to the conversation about the weed farm we were visiting!


I live in the suburbs of philadelphia that has a non-grid road system. Basically meandering roads connecting single family homes to single family homes. The recent change is to build apartment complexes in non r4 zoning (4 houses per acre). They are building an apartment complex with 400 units with a single exit/entrance on to a single carriage way 2 line road. The road is heavily used. Maybe they will put a traffic light at that point since in essence it is now an intersection. The people will be able to enter but exiting will be a huge problem for them.


“opponents fear such a sweeping change will destroy the character of residential neighborhoods” Curious how some people care more about the character of residential neighborhoods than you know, out of control housing prices, the severe reduction of the middle class and dramatically increasing homelessness across every metro area in the state.


It's just code for "my property values".


Don’t forget about “keeping out ‘those’ people”.


"Is there going to be basketball there? Basketball courts attract undesirables to my community. Because there's a definite type of person I associate with basketball, and I'd rather not have that type of person nearby. Okay, I'll just come right out and say it. I'll tell you what type of person I don't like..."


The basketball courts at my community parks do attract some undesireables. Kids. I want a turn at the hoops, dangit! I don't care if I'm 28, y'all get to play at school, let me have this!


Dangit bro. California keeps making sense and conservatives are moving from Cali to my state TX in droves and they’re the worst. They’re like normal Texas conservatives but slightly less racist and 40% more Karen. They’re coming in and ruining our housing market by paying sometimes 40k above asking after selling their half a mill California shack.


Lol only 40k above asking? You must not live in Austin then.


Shits been happening around Seattle for the last 10-20years except we are getting all the liberals n Democrats- paying 40-80k over asking and with 50-80%down. Normal people are fucked everywhere you look.


That’s happening everywhere though. I live in small town CA and our housing market is up 25% from last year. Expect 50+ offers on a decent property and for it to go 10-20% over asking. I’m a father of two and sole income earner. I just want a family home meanwhile Bobby investor over here is offering 50k above asking in cash and then rents the place out for 30% more than a mortgage would be. My parents who bought in the 1960s and pay about 1/4th the mortgage their place would go for today tell me I need bigger boot straps.


Reminder that Beto beat Cruz in 2018 amongst native Texans. These transplants from CA might be some of the most important electoral people out there and could bouy Texas for the GOP


Lol, they are losing voters at an alarming rate due to magic, I mean covid. Like 1000 people a week and it's just gearing up for winter.


I'd apologize for that but I'm enjoying not having a crazy neighbor anymore telling me I'm a sinner for being atheist and that FEMA death camps are coming... though I feel real bad for her new neighbors in Texas


The number of comments who think this means giant apartment buildings and mixed use properties must not have read the article. The way governments are abolishing single family zoning is to allow up to four residential units on a property that formerly housed single family properties.


Too late for me, we’re already planning on moving out of state to be able to afford to buy a home, but I hope this helps the next generation of Californians.


This article leave out one hugely important word that with out the arguments will continue it ends Single Family "ONLY" zoning you can still build a single family house. As to this being a risky high density experiment, the answer is no Single Family "ONLY" zoning was the experiment, and it failed in scalability.


NIMBY panic by all sides of the political spectrum in 3,2,1...


Hopefully, this will not be the only action but more multi family housing will eventually mean lower rents and sales prices. As far as an accelerated exodus is concerned, I doubt anyone is living in CA for the fine housing.


Republicans: California is a mess they don't even have enough houses for the homeless and low income housing Democrsts: take steps towards increasing mixed use houses Republicans: *Arthur fist clench* they're going to ban single family zoning? What if I want a gated communuty!??! Free economy!! COMMUNISM!!!


Yeah this is literally a huge freeing up of market activity from government restriction. They will hate it.


They really don't like capitalism


Now do parking minimums


dO sOmEtHiNg AbOuT hOmElEsSnEsS No, not like that


>While opponents fear such a sweeping change will destroy the character of residential neighborhoods, supporters hail it as a necessary way to combat the state’s persistent housing crisis and correct city zoning laws that have contributed to racial segregation. The only thing people remember now about the "character" of neighborhoods is how absurdly expensive they are. That's the only thing that matters now. Who gives a shit about the character of a neighborhood when everything is unaffordable?


Being unaffordable is the character they wish to maintain.


It’s a good step, but as long as Prop 13 dominates the land no one is going to sell to allow development.


My little suburb is close enough to a major city, and I personally have 2 dozen restaurants within a comfortable 10 minute walk from where I live. Not chains mind you, actual people owning actual restaurants. It’s paradise.