The “Intentional Communities” ordinance is before the Minneapolis Community Development & Regulatory Services Committee, so I sent a letter to the council members who sit on the committee. It reads as follows:

I’d like to register my lukewarm support for the intentional communities ordinance. I think it’s great that certain residents will be allowed greater housing freedom, and will be able to live with whomever they please.

However, I do not believe this proposal goes far enough. I’ve lived in multiple houses that had enough people living in them to make our living arrangements illegal. I had no idea that five unrelated people occupying a five bedroom house could possibly be against the law! I certainly didn’t check a zoning map before signing a lease with a landlord (Current zoning code makes it illegal to have more than 3 unrelated people occupy a housing unit if the area is zoned R1 – R3. That number increases to 5 unrelated people if it is zoned R4 – R6). We lived together in these houses to save money on rent, and had no intention of forming an intentional community.

I can guarantee that each one of you has residents in your ward that are also living “illegally” thanks to these outdated zoning restrictions. Let’s allow those people to live in our city affordably too.

While I do support this change, I don’t feel it’s right that the city should be involved at all in decisions like this. A more progressive and comprehensive step would be to reduce or eliminate occupancy limits from the zoning code. We already have a housing code which regulates housing occupancy for the purposes of health and safety (in addition to the zoning code). Easing these restrictions would not only allow intentional communities to form, but would also legalize unrelated residents who live together in houses across the city. Thanks for your time,