The Advocates

The Advocates: A Good Move for Housing

WRITTEN BY lclark 5 months ago

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Here’s a piece of good news for everyone concerned about housing costs in the region.

At their August meeting, Charleston City Council voted unanimously to approve first reading of an ordinance that will help the market generate more affordable housing units. Once enacted, the measure will allow for smaller lot sizes for single family homes that are affordable for working families.

Under current zoning, no single-family lot can have street frontage shorter than 50 feet. The change will allow lot size on a sliding scale from 35-49 feet. To get reduced size lots, developers must agree to price restrictions on properties for sale or rent that ensure long-term workforce affordability.

Smaller lot sizes equal lower land cost per dwelling. Land costs are often the largest contributing factor to the end price of a home. With Lowcountry land values pushing record highs, we need lots of creative land use solutions. This is a great step forward.

The move to allow narrower lots has long-standing historical precedent in Charleston. Many cherished examples of the Charleston single house on the peninsula are on lots with 35 feet (or less) street frontage.

There is no single silver bullet to solve the attainable housing crisis.

For every working family in the Charleston region to afford a safe home, we need at least 7,500 new housing units a year until at least 2030. That’s more than we’ve permitted in the tri-county region any year for the past 12 years.

More housing supply alone isn’t enough. Of the 7,500 new housing units needed per year, 3,600 need to be priced to be affordable for a family making $50,000 per year or less.

We also need more variety in type and cost of the new housing units built. That requires zoning for appropriate density and use. This measure is a great example.


Councilman Keith Waring had the inspiration and worked hard to get this on the agenda. He, along with Mayor Tecklenburg and every member of Council, deserve kudos for unanimously advancing this smart policy change. Keep up the good work. We will need many more good ideas like this implemented to achieve attainable housing success.

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