Frontier Institute Statement In Support Of SB 323

Frontier Institute Statement In Support Of SB 323

Legislation gives landowners in Montana city centers more freedom to build denser starter homes

HELENA – Today the Frontier Institute offered support for SB 323, a bill that follows Governor Gianforte’s Housing Task Force recommendations to reform city zoning regulations to give landowners more freedom to build denser starter homes like duplexes to address the housing crisis.

“If we don’t want Montana to become like California, we must address the strict California-Style zoning regulations in our cities before it’s too late,” said Kendall Cotton, President and CEO of the Frontier Institute. “SB 323 will protect Montana’s rural areas and ranch land from California-Style urban sprawl by providing more freedom to landowners to build more affordable starter homes in cities.”

SB 323 reverses strict California-Style zoning practices by broadly restoring the right of landowners to build middle density starter homes like duplexes in existing urban areas. The bill would also end zoning discrimination that penalizes duplexes with stricter regulations than single family homes. 

Frontier Institute has promoted extensive research showing excessive California-Style zoning:

  • Contributes to Montana’s housing shortage, driving up the cost of housing for everyone.
  • Prohibits affordable starter homes in desirable and opportunity-rich areas of town.
  • Forces landowners to jump through regulatory hoops to build affordable homes.
  • Violates landowners’ right to build affordable starter homes on their own property.
  • Drives urban sprawl, eating up surrounding open space and rural land with development.
  • Inflates city infrastructure costs by forcing housing development to sprawl outward, requiring more government spending and higher taxes.
  • Robs cities of new sources of revenue by blocking more residents and businesses in city limits.

*This statement has been updated to reflect an amendment which narrowed SB 323 to duplexes.

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