Zoning Reform changes

November 11, 2021 update:

The latest on Zoning Reform: Thanks to everyone who submitted comments to the City of St. Paul regarding Phase One of the 1-4 Unit Infill Study last month. Following our advocacy, the City’s planning staff announced that they would be proposing the elimination of the Owner Occupancy requirement in St. Paul’s ordinance for Accessory Dwelling Units!

Here’s an excerpt from the full memo: “One item deserves further discussion and a revision of the originally proposed text amendments; that is the owner-occupancy requirement for accessory dwelling units. This requirement had been intended for study in this Phase 1 of the 1-4 Unit Housing Study, but moved to Phase 2 at the suggestion of some Planning Commissioners. Phase 2 will include further amendments to the City’s ADU ordinance as a part of its broad study of 1- to 4-unit housing types. However, due to the high proportion of public testimony requesting consideration of this requirement’s removal during Phase 1, in addition to support from some Planning Commissioners, staff has undertaken a review of this requirement and prepared a recommendation during Phase 1.”

This is proof that our advocacy is working. Keep it up, everybody! We’ll need to make calls, send emails, and attend future public hearings on this issue when it reaches the City Council. Stay tuned.

October 7, 2021 information

In September, the City of Saint Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development completed its “1-4 unit infill” study, which explored ways to reform the Saint Paul Zoning Code to legalize more housing choices in Saint Paul.

The PED proposed a series of modest amendments to the Zoning Code, called “Phase One.” For example, legalizing smaller houses on smaller lots.

The PED also signaled plans to proposed bolder, more ambitious zoning reforms in “Phase Two” in 2022, potentially allowing duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in more places around Saint Paul.

This is a key opportunity for Sustain Saint Paul to champion abundant housing in our city.

Take action now to urge approval of the Phase One reforms

  • Send an email to the City’s PED staff and the Planning Commission at by noon on Thursday, Oct.14, to voice your support for the proposed changes, and urge more ambitious action in Phase Two.
  • Attend the virtual public hearing during the Planning Commission’s meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 15. Find the videoconference link. Be prepared to speak for 1-2 minutes about why you support the Phase One reforms, and urge support for further action in Phase Two.

What our board says

Sustain Saint Paul’s Board of Directors recently submitted a letter to the City’s Planning staff and the Planning Commission on this topic, including comments on the specific policy recommendations.

More talking points to help craft your message

  • I am concerned about the housing crisis in St. Paul and want the city to enact bold and practical changes to allow more housing of all types in all areas of the city. The zoning changes proposed in Phase One are a step in the right direction.
  • Saint Paul’s current Accessory Dwelling Unit policy is too constraining to allow an average homeowner to create a good looking and functional ADU at a reasonable cost.
  • We should not limit Accessory Dwelling Units only to homeowners who live on their property. The right to add an ADU should be provided on all residential lots in the city. Everyone can help address our housing crisis, and we should not discriminate against poorer neighborhoods where there are lower rates of home ownership.
  • I support the changes recommended by the City in Phase One of the 1-4 unit infill study, but they are not enough. Saint Paul now has the largest housing crisis in the country, and it is time for bold and urgent action. I urge you to pursue ambitious changes to the Zoning Code in Phase Two in 2022, such as legalizing Missing Middle Housing throughout the city.

What next?

Stay tuned! If the Planning Commission recommends approval by the City Council, we’ll ask you to voice your support again to the City Council in a few weeks.