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Atlanta Civic Circle Housing Affordability Sean Keenan

City initiative aims to address housing affordability through zoning reform

atlanta skyline

Georgia Tech is hosting a series of talks about redesigning the city to meet the needs of the 21st century. Credit: georgiatech.edu

By Sean Keenan

Atlanta’s zoning policies have long been regarded as restrictive by affordable housing advocates and urbanists. Put simply, the city’s zoning code just isn’t very conducive to dense development.

But if the new Atlanta City Design Housing Initiative progresses according to plan, that could change.

Last week, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office announced a new project, “which tells the story of the past, present and potential future of zoning and its impact on housing in Atlanta,” a city press release says.

“Atlanta is a city of single-family homes, large apartment buildings and… well, not much else,” says a presentation by the city’s planning department. An updated zoning code, however, could mean that 60 percent of the city’s land could be opened up for true density — more residences on less land.

The initiative would pave the way for the construction of more accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — think a tiny home in the backyard or an apartment over the garage — on parcels across the city.

Over the next few decades, Atlanta’s population is expected to more than double — from around 500,000 to well over a million — and, planning officials have said, tighter development is going to become more crucial than ever, city planners have said.

“Our city is growing, and we can leverage that growth to be a better city that is more equitable, inclusive and accessible to live in,” said Tim Keane, Atlanta’s planning department chief, per the release.

Bottoms administration officials have said that boosting the housing stock will, in theory, lower housing costs. This means legacy residents — many of them living in lower-income minority communities — would be able to stay home instead of being priced out.

(Header image, via Georgia Tech: The Atlanta skyline is sure to look very different over the next few decades.)


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  1. Bob Hovey December 8, 2020 11:27 pm

    zoning is always a matter of adjacencies. These policies can be successful if they protect the value of adjacent land owners and have appropriate buffers to smooth the transitions. They can cause strife and urban decay if they clash with history and present day land use.Report

  2. Michael Miller. January 15, 2021 3:02 pm

    I’m in need of housing. Briefly, I am without a place to stay. I’m currently in Clayton Transition Center. Before my incarceration. I built my own home. I had to sell it and because I was part of the Housing bust of 2009. I was having trouble keeping it. I lived in it for 5 years. Because of the circumstances, I have a few living restrictions. Are people who have been in these types of situations eligible for this program.
    Michael Miller. 404 483- 4130 cell phone.
    Counselor, Perry. Clayton TC
    404 675-1500.Report


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