The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa City officials propose code changes to increase housing affordability

The city’s proposed amendments will tackle the issues of housing affordability.
Tyler Downey
Iowa City city council members sit during a city council meeting in Iowa City on Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Iowa City officials are considering and seeking public input on changes to Iowa City zoning codes to improve housing choice, supply, and affordability this fall. 

The Iowa City City Council will soon vote on a variety of proposed zoning changes after seeing a proposal by the neighborhood and development services staff on Aug. 15. A public hearing seeking public input on the zoning codes is set for Sept. 19.

The first change to the code focuses on increasing flexibility for a range of housing types by allowing certain housing types into zones they previously were not allowed in. One change will allow duplexes in single-family residential zones.

The second and third amendments would create more flexibility in the zoning code, but through changes in building design requirements and dimensional standards to allow more varied types of houses in Iowa City.

The fourth amendment creates incentives for developers to encourage them to build affordable housing units. 

The fifth change intends to make housing in the city more equitable, specifically for citizens who have disabilities by creating a process to request special accommodations. 

RELATED: IC sees low housing creation, can lead to affordability, environmental issues

Senior Planner Anne Russett said at an Aug. 15 meeting that the issue of housing affordability doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, but this plan would help address some of the issues the city is facing.

“Housing supply also impacts affordability, and our community is growing. However, housing supply is not meeting the demand generated by the growth,” Russett said.

In April, the city reported a decline in housing construction projects, and it may not be able to build enough houses to accommodate its future population. 

The issue of affordable housing was also discussed at the Aug. 2 planning and zoning commission meeting, where several members of the community expressed concerns regarding public involvement in the amendments.

At the meeting, former Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton said while he agrees affordable housing is important to address, some communities were not adequately consulted by the city while creating the proposed zoning changes. 

“Changes of this magnitude and complexity deserve to be carefully studied and discussed by all affected stakeholders,” Throgmorton said. 

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Councilor Laura Bergus said she supports what the amendments are trying to do to help create more affordable housing, but increasing housing supply is only one part of this multifaceted issue. 

“Supply is just one sliver of the overall issue of a lack of affordable housing, and we know that we do not have enough housing units in our community,” Bergus said. “I am supportive of the amendments insofar as they look to do that.”

The city council voted on Sept. 5 to set the public hearing on Sept. 19. At the Sept. 19 meeting, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the amendments, and the council will vote on first consideration of the item.

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About the Contributor
Isabelle Foland
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.