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Title 21 Re-Write’s negative effect on Housing Affordability


OP-ED by Andre Spinelli, President, Anchorage Home Builders

As we wait for the Municipality of Anchorage to release the final version of the Title 21 re-write (Land use and Zoning Code) that will go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for Public Hearing on November 14th at 6:30 p.m. at the Assembly Chambers of the Loussac Library, I thought it would be a good idea for everyone to take quick look at the impact of the new code (as it is currently on the MOA website) on the cost of entry level home.

When the process of re-writing Title 21 began there was an Economic Impact Analysis done that excluded the single home.  Below I show you what happens to the cost of your new home when you compare your budget with the revised Title 21's NEW REQUIREMENTS. 

  • 21.07.080.E.8 Trees in Residential Developments - Title 21 NEW REQUIREMENTS are double or triple the number of trees and makse them taller.  165 tree units per acre.  The average house on a ¼ acre lot 165/4=41.25 units.  A 6' evergreen=6 units and a 14'deciduous =4 units.  The average number of trees installed today is three per house.  Title 21 NOW REQUIRES 10 trees at a cost of $5000.  $4,100 cost increase.
  • 21.07.110.F.2 Mix of Housing Models - Choosing a different floor plan costs nothing but unfortunately all the buyers choose the best plans over and over.  Title 21 NOW REQUIRES a mandatory mix of housing models.  5 houses = 2 plans, 11 houses=4 plans, 21 houses=5 plans.  With all the new taller trees who will even notice? Not to mention that Turnagain on the Westside and South Addition in Downtown are examples of great neighborhoods with repetitive house plans that nobody seems to mind.
  • 21.07.110.F.3.a,b&c Primary entrance Location - Title 21 NOW REQUIRES front door must be clearly visible from the street, must be covered and must have a hard surfaced walkway. This doesn't sound that bad but why is the MOA telling where to put my door?  Also at my house I actually have meandering flat rocks leading to my front door surrounded by grass which would not be allowed.  Put your stereotypes aside about who is supporting this code because I can't think of any environmental groups that encourage more asphalt pavement than current code. Title 21 NEW REQUIREMENTS cost of covered porch $400.
  • 21.07.110.F.4.b Garages - Garage doors shall comprise no more than 60% of the total width of the building' elevation.  If you were planning to have a two car garage we might have to stretch the width of your house. Garages in building less than 40 feet wide will also be additionally penalized.  You have three lists and you MUST choose one item from each list.  Title 21 NEW REQUIREMENTS must include front facing balcony, decorative covered entry, additional detailed trim on all doors, windows and roof edges.  Title 21 NEW REQUIREMENTS costs of garage changes $1750.
  • 21.07.11.F.5.a Windows -- Title 21 NOW REQUIRES that windows and primary entrance shall occupy 15% of the elevation.  If you add a slider door and a deck per the list above the total of the elevation is 70 sq ft and you are required to have 92 sq ft of windows out front.  Title 21 NEW REQUIREMENTS on windows is $750.

All of the Title 21 NEW REQUIREMENTS add up to a total of $7,000. in additional costs and I was very modest with my pricing.  I also have not factored in the cost increase of the permit to build the house because the MOA has stated that the cost of the permit will not increase but this is very foolish at best.  How can you add so much new regulation to review and inspect without thinking that there will be additional cost? Maybe if you just don't think about it? In this example I used a house that would typically costs $250,000 that $7,000 is a 2.7% increase in the cost of the home. Title 21 NEW REQUIREMENTS will impact the housing market by making it much harder for the average Anchorage resident to afford a home.

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