Zoning & Parcel Size


Residential zoning regulations serve a purpose of regulating sufficient access of dwellings to air, light, and fire protection. Zoning also allows communities to plan for adequate infrastructure and community facilities. However, zoning has also historically been used as a tool of exclusion, a means to “zone out” and disenfranchise certain populations and communities. The prints of this history are still visible in communities today. In one example, it has been found that lot sizes in a historically Black neighborhood are smaller than lots in other parts of town. With modern lot coverage and floor area ratios, it can be challenging to develop these smaller parcels without combining multiple parcels. This further disenfranchises certain, targeted, areas of cities by reducing the number of citizens living in these areas. 

Opportunity & Response

The smaller footprint of the Product Line Homes allows them to fit on smaller parcels, maintaining a higher number of housing units and, therefore, a higher number of homeownership opportunities within the community. Increasing homeownership opportunity has proven to increased access, increases the tax base, and increases community participation, engagement, and investment. Perhaps more importantly, research shows that the impact on civic engagement and investment is greatest for low- and mid-income homeowners.


Stevens Street



Joint Center


Urban Affairs Institute

Zoning for Small Homes


Zoning codes in some areas place a minimum square footage requirement on lots. This can discourage the construction of small homes.

Opportunity & Response

Some cities, such as the City of Nashville, have implemented progressive zoning ordinances that accommodate a wider variety of development types. For example, Nashville’s R6 zoning allows for a “detached duplex” configuration in which two homes, each with a separate owner, can be constructed on one lot (without subdividing the lot). Two Rural Studio homes easily fit on Nashville’s typical narrow, deep lots.

Other common examples of zoning that accommodates small homes are the allowance of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and Planned Unit Developments (PUDs).


Wharf Ave.

Air Serenbe