Georgia Public Policy Foundation releases report on minimum lot and home sizes in Georgia

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation released a new report on minimum lot and home sizes in Georgia at the local level. This extensive report delves into zoning regulations across the state and reveals critical insights into the impact of lot and home size requirements on housing supply and affordability.

The report analyzes regulations across Georgia, encompassing counties, county seats and cities within the metro Atlanta area. As a reference point, the report cites the Georgia Department of Health’s (DPH’s) recommendations, which provide an overview of how these requirements affect residential development in the state.

 “As policy makers at all levels of government seek ways to boost housing affordability, it is vital that they understand not only the consequences of their own actions but also what is happening in neighboring jurisdictions,” said Kyle Wingfield, President and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. “This study is our latest effort to provide much-needed facts on this issue to policy makers – and to their constituents, who can hold them accountable.”

The research involved extensive data collection, covering 157 of Georgia’s 159 counties, 126 county seats and 83 municipalities within the Atlanta metro area. The report focuses on single-family residential districts with the highest minimum requirements and highlights the challenges posed by these regulations.

As the report reveals, some districts in Georgia have minimum lot and home size requirements far above the DPH’s standards, including lot size minimums of five acres. While in some districts home size minimums exceed 2,000 square feet, which can account for roughly $300,000 in minimum building costs alone based on industry standards. 

These limits on residential zoning increase the cost of housing for new residents by stifling supply. Furthermore, a lack of different housing types within a community limits the ability of existing homeowners to account for life changes.

The report highlights the importance of addressing these minimum requirements to ensure access to affordable housing in Georgia. With the state facing a housing shortage, the report’s findings provide valuable insights for policymakers and stakeholders to consider in future housing policy decisions. 

“We chose to study this issue after consistently hearing that increasingly more cities and counties are considering whether to implement higher lot and home size minimums,” said Chris Denson, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Director of Policy and Research and coauthor of the study. “These overly high thresholds represent a significant barrier to providing the adequate supply of housing that is needed as our state continues to grow.” 

As the report concludes, “The lack of access and affordability is expected to remain an ongoing concern for a state that is estimated to be over 364,000 housing units short … local governments may soon need to reevaluate their ordinances to allow for greater density.”

The full report can be accessed here.

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