New Arizona law overrides local zoning to spur multifamily projects

Gov. Katie Hobbs signs bills facilitating duplexes and ADUs near downtowns

New Arizona Law Overrides Local Zoning to Spur Housing Projects

A photo illustration of Governor Katie Hobbs (Getty)

New housing legislation in Arizona would allow developers to bypass local zoning to build duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and townhomes near downtowns.

Gov. Katie Hobbs signed two bipartisan bills that would allow multifamily developments without zoning battles, as well as more backyard granny flats, AZCentral reported.

House Bill 2721, dubbed the “middle housing bill,” requires cities with more than 75,000 residents to change zoning and other regulations to allow for duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and townhomes within a mile of their central business districts. 

The law, backed by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, also requires those multifamily projects to take up 20 percent of any development of 10 acres or more.

“Tempe is totally landlocked, and we have to find new ways to create more housing,” Tempe Mayor Corey Woods told AZCentral, saying the law helps cities create more housing options.

House Bill 2720 requires cities with more than 75,000 people to allow accessory dwelling units or casitas to be built on lots with single-family homes. The ADUs won’t have design restrictions or need additional parking.

“Casitas represent a potent solution to bolster housing supply within established neighborhoods, all without necessitating additional land development,” Nicole Newhouse, executive director of the Arizona Housing Coalition, told the news site affiliated with the Arizona Republic.

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Cities must comply with the middle housing law by January 2026 and the ADU law by January 2025.

Both bills drew pushback from cities and neighborhood groups.

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The middle housing bill didn’t go as far as earlier legislation that would have stripped zoning controls from cities and prevented them from imposing HOA requirements on new communities. That bill passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Hobbs.

Neal Haddad, president of the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, wrote in a letter to Hobbs that the coalition didn’t support the ADU bill because it wouldn’t protect against new ADUs being turned into short-term rentals.

The group also doesn’t like that the bill allows more ADUs to be built on bigger lots.

— Dana Bartholomew