MAP at the Forefront of Zoning Reform in Michigan


Since the Michigan Association of Planning Board of Directors identified housing as its policy priority in early 2020, we’ve developed and secured funding for a number of projects that provide Michigan municipalities with tools and resources to address housing choice and supply locally. We’ve developed training, covered the topic TWICE in our Michigan Planner magazine, and worked hard to amplify the critical need for an increase in Michigan’s housing supply.

Zoning Reform Toolkit for Housing Choice and Supply

In spring 2021, MAP secured funding from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to develop a Zoning Reform Toolkit for Housing Choice and Supply.

Cover Image With Karen Smith Award SealThe purpose of the Toolkit was to provide municipal planners and community leaders with a set of regulatory solutions to open up local housing supply. Each of the 15 tools in the Toolkit includes an explanation of what it is, how it is used, and how it affects housing. Case studies and sample comprehensive plan language reinforce the tools.

Since its launch in May 2022, we’ve put the  Zoning Reform Toolkit for Housing Choice and Supply into the hands of hundreds of planners across the state. Click on the photo at the right to download the Zoning Reform Toolkit.

In 2022, the Zoning Reform Toolkit received the American Planning Association's Karen B. Smith Chapter Award for Outstanding Achievement. The MAP award is in the Outstanding Service to Members category, which recognizes innovations, programs, or new or improved services that benefit the members of a particular chapter. We are being recognized for our vision in identifying an important issue facing Michigan communities, securing funding, and developing a product that will help municipal planners identify and implement zoning reforms to increase housing supply. Here you can find the  winning proposal.

MAP Housing Summit

In May 2022, the Zoning Reform Toolkit was introduced at the MAP Annual Spring Institute | Housing Summit. We highlighted national speakers Jenny Schuetz, author of Fixer Upper: How to Repair America’s Broken Housing Systems; and Shane Phillips, author of The Affordable City; along with state agency leaders, a panel of municipal planners sharing housing success stories, and our consulting partners from Progressive AE and Housing Next.

Housing in Four Parts Webinar Series

We developed a four-part housing webinar series that covered Master Planning for Housing; the Zoning Reform Toolkit; Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs); and Stand By Your Plan, providing tactics to support elected and appointed officials in successfully advancing good housing projects. The recordings are available for purchase, or we can bring that training to your community as an on-site workshop. Contact MAP staff for pricing.

Zoning Reform Stories and Studies: A Companion Guide

MAP is developing a companion guide to the Zoning Reform Toolkit that will highlight what’s been accomplished across the state to reform zoning and other regulations and development review processes. We have been surveying our members to find out which communities are talking about Zoning Reform, whether any tools highlighted in the Toolkit have been implemented, and what other research and implementation has been conducted. You can read the Zoning Reform Toolkit Survey Summary now, and look for a detailed report in the coming months! 

Recognition of MAP’s Work at the National Level

In February 2023, MAP Executive Director Andrea Brown, AICP, was appointed to serve on the APA-NLC Housing Supply Accelerator Steering Committee. The American Planning Association and the National League of Cities launched a campaign to bring together people who plan, build, approve, and finance housing to develop, align, and advance solutions for housing supply challenges at the local level. The Accelerator will feature a series of convenings across the country to discuss obstacles, ideas, and solutions culminating in a joint agenda for reform and a new commitment of resources and collective action.

Zoning Atlas

A Next Steps action included in the Zoning Reform Toolkit was the creation of a Zoning Atlas for Michigan. Inspired by Desegregate Connecticut’s first of its kind Zoning Atlas, MAP was an early adopter of the idea, and brought Sara Bronin, the founder of the Desegregate CT, to Michigan in fall 2021, to deliver an inspiring presentation. MAP is leading an initiative to pilot a Zoning Atlas in Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon counties in western Michigan, and we’ve partnered with the University of Michigan planning faculty Drs. Rob Goodspeed, AICP and Sarah Mills, along with professionals from Housing Next in the Grand Rapids area. We are seeking funding to cover the entire state and our team is now participating in a national dialogue through meetings with other states that are developing atlases.

Stay tuned as this important project advances!

More Zoning and Housing Resources You Can Use

Many, many resources from a wide variety of perspectives and approaches informed the development of this Toolkit. The current housing shortage is critical news at the national, state, and local level across America. The following collection of links aims to provide context, comparisons, research, spatial analysis, and data to support your community's exploration of the unique ways in which you are experiencing, and addressing, this urgent issue. You can filter the results by clicking on the columns and selecting criteria, then "apply" - if you can't see the results, try scrolling upward. Available information about the format, year, and author can be accessed by scrolling to the right. If you prefer a roomier view or if the embedded sheet does not display, you can view and download the spreadsheet in a new window. Please report broken links or suggest new resources by emailing ldumouchel@planningmi.org.