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Nebraska’s Battle Over Single-Family Homes Is Not Much of a Battle

Housing costs are climbing in Omaha and Lincoln. Can the Cornhusker State legalize “missing middle” housing when coastal states have failed?
New apartment buildings are springing up along the N. 30th Street corridor of North Omaha. Nebraska's pursuit of zoning reform has so far avoided the kind of controversy that has accompanied efforts in other states.
New apartment buildings are springing up along the N. 30th Street corridor of North Omaha. Nebraska's pursuit of zoning reform has so far avoided the kind of controversy that has accompanied efforts in other states.Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

On February 4, the battle over single-family homes came to Nebraska. A state legislative committee heard arguments about a number of bills designed to lower housing costs by lifting local bans on duplex homes, triplexes, townhouses and other options in cities across the state.

This upzoning push looks similar to both the Virginia proposal that died in committee in January, and California’s State Bill 50, which has been defeated several times in Sacramento. Officials in Maryland, Washington, and other states are currently weighing similar zoning reforms. The efforts thus far have tended to trigger pitched battles between affordability advocates and status-quo-defenders over the prospect of gentrification, the perils of density and other hot-button housing issues.