AFFO R D A B L E
M.E. Rinker, Sr., School of Building Construction College of Design, Construction & Planning PO Box 115703,
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-5703 TEL: (352) 273-1192 SUNCOM: 622-7697 FAX: (352) 392-4364
Volume XV, Number 5 August 2005
Walking, riding a bike, and taking a short car ride from home to work represent
things of the past for most Americans. In many parts of the country, notably
southern California and most metropolitan areas, the workers in a family face
long commutes by automobile to and from their place of employment. This
situation is particularly true for moderate income workers like teachers, fire
fighters, nurses, retail workers, bank tellers, clerical office staff, and more.
These and other members of the workforce that earn moderate incomes rou-
tinely can not afford to live in the vicinity of their place of employment. They
must travel further and further away from their employment center until they
can find housing that they like, that they can afford, and that is available.
Presented in this issue of the Shimberg Center's newsletter is a summary of al-
ternative techniques that local governments may want to consider as means of
supporting the balancing of jobs and housing. These techniques are more fully
described in the American Planning Association's (APA) Planning Advisory
Service publication PAS-516.
Also presented in this issue is a summary of a counterpoint paper by Wendell
Cox of the Wendell Cox Consultancy near St. Louis and visiting professor at
the National Conservatory of Arts and Trades in Paris.
A community with a carefully considered land-
use plan must still rely on the market conditions
and developers' decisions about the timing and
mix of development. Local zoning and other
land-use regulations control the location of
development but they offer no control over the
timing of the activity. Accordingly, there are a
number of techniques that local governments
may want to consider as a means to stimulate the
simultaneous development of jobs and housing.
Allow Mixed Land Uses
Planners should consider amending land-use pro-
visions of zoning districts to allow mixed uses.
Areas zoned for commercial uses may not allow
any type of residence in the zone. Yet, a resi-
dential unit positioned over street-level retail or
office space can be a very appropriate and conve-
nient land use. The APA recommends reviewing
all zoning classifications for the purpose of insur-
ing that compatible land uses are not specifically
Soften Separation Lines Between Zones
Rigid and inflexible lines of separation between
land uses should be relaxed to support the bal-
ancing of jobs and housing. Local government
planners should consider revising the land-use
map and zoning ordinance to allow neighbor-
hood commercial centers or employment areas at
the edge of neighborhoods, at the transition from
one land use to another, or at other appropriate
locations as a means of supporting the notion of
a jobs/housing balance. In addition to providing
employment options, small-scale convenience
centers can offer the neighborhood residents a
walking or biking alternative to the automobile
for some trips.
Mix Homes & Jobs in PUDs
The Planned Unit Development (PUD) offers
a means of mixing different types of housing
and nonresidential uses. Local planners should
review their existing PUD ordinance to determine
the types of land uses that are encouraged or
required by the ordinance. The objective of this
review is to identify ways to encourage or man-
date the incorporation of compatible civic, office,
and neighborhood commercial space in PUDs.
Appropriate incentives should be considered for
the developer as a stimulus for voluntary interest
in enhancing the balance of housing with local
employment opportunities. The PAS-516 paper
points out that there is a minimum economic
threshold that is required to support certain com-
mercial activities. The example cited is that a
population of 500 families is required to support a
day-care center. Incorporating mandatory inclu-
sion requirements will force planners to consider
the critical mass requirements for supporting vari-
ous commercial activities.
Home Occupation Regulations
Living and working in the same place is probably
the ultimate job/housing balance. The regula-
tions that control home occupations should be
reviewed by local government planners for the
purpose of expanding the variety of occupations
that can be conducted out of the home while
maintaining the nature and tranquility of the
neighborhood. The review should focus on modi-
fying restrictions that are unduly restrictive and
the review may want to even encourage telecom-
Sometimes referred to as "mother-in-law" units,
accessory units are small apartment-like units
added to single-family homes typically intended
as a low-cost apartment for single-person occu-
pancy. Allowing accessory units in an otherwise
low-density single-family neighborhood is fre-
quently more palatable to the existing residents
than encouraging development of large apart-
ment complexes to accommodate the demand.
This approach is particularly effective in areas
with an abundance of jobs or college students.
An important issue related to the accessory units
is that of parking.
Live/work housing units are specifically de-
signed and built to accommodate a business
office in the home. Typically this arrangement
may involve a separate entrance and off-street
parking. Traditional neighborhood development
(TND) regulations often have provisions for
Inclusionary housing programs require devel-
opers to include some number (or percentage)
of the units in a newly developed subdivision
to be sold at a price that is affordable to lower
income families. The typical incentive offered to
the developer is to allow an increase in density.
The idea of the density increase is to reduce the
per-unit cost of site development and thereby
partially or completely compensate the developer
for selling the set-aside moderate-income units
at a price below cost. A basic requirement of the
inclusionary zoning is that the lower-cost homes
be indistinguishable from the market rate homes.
A linkage-program is a technique in which a
major development that will attract a sizeable
workforce must provide or procure housing for
the workforce that can not be satisfied by the
existing local housing supply. In Florida, the
term local is defined as housing being within a
10-mile or 20-minutes commute of the develop-
ment. Determining the number and price range
of the required units is based on a projection of
the future workforce broken down into income
categories and a comparison of the new demand
for housing with the existing and planned avail-
able inventory. The difference between the
number of units that will be available and the
projected new demand represents the need that
the developer must meet.
Not everyone agrees that a balance between jobs
and housing location can be achieved. In 2003
Wendell Cox, of Wendell Cox Consultancy in
the St. Louis, wrote Myths To Live By: The Jobs-
Housing Balance. (See http://www.planetizen.
Mr. Cox points out that the average commuter in
the US travels 12 miles to work each day. This
average suggests that the interest, education, and
skills of the job seeker and the requirements and
preferences for the position that are imposed
by the employer are not always matched by the
employment opportunities found close to home.
Cox also points out that more than 50 percent of
the households have more than one worker and it
is not unusual for these workers to go in different
directions when leaving for work in the morning.
According to the American Housing Survey of
households that have moved recently, only 22
percent cite convenience to place of work as the
most important reason for their choice of loca-
tion. Cox concludes that there is little hope for
planners to achieve a jobs-housing balance if
housing location choice is not based on conve-
nience to employment by nearly 80 percent of
the households. He states, "It is people, not
urban planning, that determines where people
live and work."
In order to establish public awareness of the
need for workforce housing, the Maine State
Housing Authority produced the following
excellent poster that also appeared in the Fannie
Mae Foundation's Housing Facts & Findings,
Volume 4, Number 2.
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Affordable Housing ISSUES is prepared bi-monthly by the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing for the purpose
of discussing contemporary issues facing affordable housing providers. Reproduction of this newsletter is both permitted and
encouraged. Comments or questions regarding the content are welcome and should be addressed to Robert C. Stroh, Director.
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