As Vancouver moves towards changing it’s housing priorities via zoning and other methods, it seems we’re not alone in our thinking.
Thanks to Katherine Shaver in the Washington Post (paywalled), we see the term “missing middle” popping up. And that famous diagram. As does a nod to Vancouver, via Gil Kelley.
Other common themes between Washington, DC and Vancouver: walkability, neighbourhood feel, millennials and downsizers and affordability. The biggest recurring theme: transit and more transit.
Cities from Des Moines to Atlanta to Nashville are turning to the missing middle as a way to try to hold on to millennials as they age. Rather than requiring or subsidizing it as they typically do to produce more low-income housing, local governments are trying to encourage developers to build more missing middle housing by removing barriers in zoning laws and building codes.
Some cities have rezoned their single-family neighborhoods to allow duplexes, triplexes and other multiunit structures that look like single-family homes from the outside, particularly in areas near transit lines. To allow more homes per lot, others are considering relaxing requirements on yard sizes and setbacks, the distance required between properties. Some are beginning to allow bungalows clustered around courtyards by changing long-standing requirements that front entrances be on a street.
. . . “It’s a huge wave,” said Gil Kelley, planning director for Vancouver, B.C. “They’re demanding a place in the cities and housing that’s affordable to them.”
Vancouver, which ranks among the most expensive cities in North America, has begun to allow more duplexes and “stacked” townhouses with two units.
“I think it’s very significant that we’re understanding people want to live in the core of urban areas again,” Kelley said. “We’re reversing a 60- to 70-year trend of people moving out to suburbs . . . This is not just a fad for a decade. This is a multi-decade shift.”