ACTION: Support Zoning Reform (Planning Commission)

This Thursday (2024-01-25) the Planning Commission will hear the official presentation of a suite of zoning reforms which have been in development since the joint meeting of the Planning Commission and the City Commission in July. As expected, as with any land-use reforms, the opposition has mounted quickly.

In 2020 the Housing Next report documented a severe housing shortage in the city of Grand Rapids and the surrounding region. A staggering need for 8,888 in the next several years, in the city of Grand Rapids alone.

Residents have experienced the consequences of this shortage through rising rents, escalating prices of for-sale homes, and limited availability. Residents have faced challenges in both remaining in their own neighborhoods as well as moving to neighborhoods or locations which would best facilitate their prosperity or accommodate their life-style and household type.

The Housing Next update in 2023 indicated that this shortage of housing has only become more severe; a shortage of 14,106 units! Between the initial report and the 2023 update the city fell further behind on needed housing by almost five (5) units per day! Clearly the status-quo is not working. Meanwhile in other cities - most notably Minneapolis, Minnesota - it has been demonstrated that substantive land-use reform does facilitate increased production of housing, and that new housing moderates increases in rent and housing costs. It is time for Grand Rapids to move forward with Zoning reform, we cannot afford wait any longer.

Fear of change in neighborhoods is understandable, yet the status-quo is already changing our neighborhoods. The status-quo is inhibiting the adaptation of our neighborhoods to new economic and social conditions, such as the nation wide decrease in household size, work from home, remote work, and an aging population. The suite of land-use reforms proposed by the Planning Department are not radical, they are rational and incremental; extremely similar to reforms either implemented or under consideration in cities across the nation which are facing the same challenges.

Please consider e-mailing the Planning Commission @ 👉(👈 asking them to send these recommendations to the City Commission. Below is a sample letter. Feel free to copy-n-paste, edit, add to or subtract from; whatever you feel makes it your voice.