Minnesota’s housing market is facing record low inventory and sky-high prices. We need a fix that will help all Minnesotans afford the dream of homeownership.
Today, the Senate Committee on Local Government Policy heard SF 915, authored by Senator Rich Draheim of Madison Lake. This bill is aimed at addressing Minnesota’s exclusionary zoning practices by confronting one of the top affordability barriers head-on, the manipulation of Planned Unit Development (PUD) Contracts.
David Siegel, Housing First Minnesota Executive Director, testified in favor of the bill.
“This bill is a first step to addressing the issue that experts have almost unanimously agreed is the key to fixing our growing housing and homeownership problems: lifting local barriers and zoning carve outs which are currently restricting the construction of affordably priced homes,” stated Siegel. “We have heard from government groups that these are simply ‘the market’. That is wrong. The market does not restrict land availability and drive land costs, local governments and the Met Council do. The market does not demand large lot, large homes, with large garages for starter homes – local governments do. And, the market does not demand stone exteriors on starter homes – local governments in PUDs do.”
Siegel ended his testimony with an ask to think of the next generations: “A vote no on this bill is a vote to make homeownership less attainable for our kids and grandkids.”
Additional testimony from the Minnesota REALTORs highlighted the serious lack of inventory that homebuyers are currently facing and why the housing market needs policy provisions like SF 915 to allow the creation of more homes at the more affordable price points.
City government representation had numerous testifiers argue that the bill would take away ‘local control’ and would hurt existing homebuyers.
“What this bill does is jeopardize residents who have already purchased homes in our community and expect similar homes to be constructed around them consistent with the city’s comprehensive and zoning plans. To suggest this change in land use after they have already made what is likely the single biggest investment they will ever make is not transparent nor is it equitable. This is just pointing cities down the path of Minneapolis and their zoning practices,” stated Jason Wedel, City Manager of Prior Lake.
While SF 915 alone will not solve all of our housing problems, it is a significant step forward that will allow for the creation of more starter homes, a product that consumers are desperately begging for. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the Senate floor.