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Lisa McDonald's June 3 counterpoint "Upending single-family zoning isn't the answer" — against land-use and zoning reforms, which have been extensively discussed in both the Legislature and local governments across Minnesota — relies on a few fundamental misunderstandings about this important issue. Both state and local land-use reforms continue to be necessary if we want to address our pressing housing crisis.

First, McDonald references one Urban Institute study of zoning and land-use changes, which analyzes the average impacts of many different reforms across the United States. It's true that this study finds generally small impacts on housing supply and affordability from zoning reforms.

However, the specifics of zoning changes matter immensely for how effective they are. Take Houston. A couple decades ago, the city reduced the minimum required lot size to 3,000 square feet from the more typical 5,000 square feet. This sparked a boom in narrower houses that cost, on average, $200,000 less than otherwise similar new homes in Houston, according to research by University of Texas professor Jake Wegmann. This kind of reform was passed recently in the city of St. Paul and was proposed in the Legislature this year.

Or look abroad to Auckland, New Zealand, which in 2016 took on an exceptionally bold zoning code rewrite, allowing for more housing density across much of the city. A series of research papers, led by economist Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy, shows impressive results: thousands of new homes getting built, far slower rent increases than any peer cities in New Zealand and more than a doubling of per-capita public housing permits. Some of Auckland's changes are reminiscent of land-use reforms proposed at the Minnesota Legislature this year, including bills to allow more density near major transit stops, and fourplexes in many neighborhoods.

More locally, we can see the impacts of land-use reforms in Minneapolis. One piece of Minneapolis' 2040 Comprehensive Plan was to stop requiring minimum quantities of parking on new housing developments. As a result, recently built Minneapolis apartment buildings contain about 25% fewer parking spots per housing unit, and some buildings have no parking at all.

This represents a huge decrease in the cost of building housing, helping to negate the steep costs of inputs like lumber and construction labor. Duluth recently made the same move. And you guessed it: This reform was also proposed in the Legislature this year.

However, we shouldn't let ourselves get lost in the weeds of technical research on this issue. There's a more fundamental issue at play when it comes to statewide land-use policy: our shared responsibility to support new housing, and especially affordable housing, in all communities.

Of course, many jurisdictions across Minnesota work hard to embrace affordable housing, welcoming newcomers at various income levels with open arms. But we must recognize how the land-use status quo has long allowed some cities to exclude affordable housing, in both explicit and implicit ways.

Unfortunate instances have arisen again and again across Minnesota. As I wrote in the Minnesota Reformer in April, Edina recently denied approval for an 89-unit affordable housing development. The proposed housing was aligned with the city's comprehensive plan, but the site's zoning was not up to speed with the comprehensive plan, essentially giving Edina full discretion to veto the project.

And last month, a small group of Habitat for Humanity duplexes barely scraped through the Minnetonka City Council after the Minnetonka Planning Commission recommended denying the project. The reasoning, once again, was zoning: a few moderately sized duplexes would be too dense for Minnetonka's restrictive neighborhood zoning. These affordable homes — also a rare opportunity for low-income homeownership — were approved only after significant media scrutiny and organized advocacy in support of the project.

Such stories pervade our state, upheld in part by restrictive land-use policy.

Recent statewide polling showed that housing affordability was either a "major problem" or "somewhat a problem" for 85% of Minnesotans. Existing evidence is clear that zoning and land-use reforms represent a meaningful route to reducing the cost of housing and supporting more subsidized affordable housing. That means both local and statewide action, as soon as possible. Struggling Minnesotans can't afford to wait.

Zak Yudhishthu is a writer focused on housing and land-use policy in the Twin Cities.