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‘A Big First Step’: Bay Area Cities Are Rethinking Single-Family Zoning

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Housing in San Francisco on Feb. 10, 2020. In San Francisco, nearly three-quarters of all residential land is devoted to single-family homes and duplexes.  (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The single-family neighborhood has been foundational to American housing policy for decades. It’s also been a tool to keep Black and brown people out of homeownership, and is one reason why there isn’t nearly enough housing overall.

This policy has deep roots in the Bay Area. But now, a handful of cities are rethinking it, and allowing developers to build “fourplexes” in these areas.

A change like this won’t solve the housing crisis overnight, and it won’t bring down rents unless it’s paired with other protections. But it is a big first step.

Guest: Erin Baldassari, KQED housing affordability reporter and co-host of SOLD OUT: Rethinking Housing in America

Episode transcript here


Subscribe to The Bay to hear more local Bay Area stories like this one. New episodes are released Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 a.m. Find The Bay on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, NPR One or via Alexa.

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