​​​​​​​​​​​Housing Opportunities in the Municipality for Everyone (HOME) Initiative

In fall 2023, Assembly Members Brawley, Volland and Zaletel introduced AO 2023-87​ to establish the Housing Opportunities in the Municipality for Everyone Initiative, or the HOME Initiative​The HOME Initiative proposes simplifying residential zoning in the Anchorage Bowl from 15 different zones into five residential zones, identified as land use designations in the Anchorage 2040 Land Use Plan (LUP) :

  • LLR – Large Lot Residential
  • STFR – Single Family and Two-Family Residential
  • CMRL – Compact Mixed Residential Low
  • CMRM – Compact Mixed Residential Medium
  • URH – Urban Residential High

The proposal excludes Girdwood and Chugiak/Eagle River, communities with unique zoning code chapters and whose land use is not determined by the 2040 LUP.​

The Latest HOME Legislation
​​The HOME Iniaitive is evolving through the public process. The legislative history is detailed on this webpage, but for your quick reference, here are the current documents available for public comment.

Straight from the Sponsors

Get to know the HOME Initiative straight from the sponsors, Assembly Members Anna Brawley, Daniel Volland and Meg Zaletel. On March 4, 2024 the sponsors hosted a webinar to review their proposal. Watch the webinar or revisit the slides​

HOME on the Map

​A land use plan map is a visualization of how a community expects itself to look in the future. ​The HOME Initiative proposes simplifying the complexity of our residential zones to better align them with the five land use designations defined by the Anchorage 20​40 Land Use Plan (LUP). 

Explore the map below to view current zoning and swipe to see land use designations identified in the 2040 LUP. ​


Legislative Process

A robust public process is shaping the HOME Initiative in real-time. The timeline below reviews the legislative history of the HOME Initiative. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The HOME Initiative is a conversation starter. Here are some of the questions people are asking about the project. ​


1. How does the HOME Initiative relate to the Anchorage 2020 Comprehensive Plan and 2040 Land Use Plan?

The HOME Initiative is a step to implement policies set through the Anchorage 2020 Comprehensive Plan and 2040 Land Use Plan (LUP). Both of these plans point to the need for more housing, especially more housing variety in areas near parks, transit and commercial development.

Although the more recent plan—the 2040 LUP—was published in 2017, Anchorage has yet to see the increase in housing we need to meet the goals established in the plan.

The HOME Initiative uses the land use designations set by the 2040 LUP to simplify residential zoning in the Anchorage Bowl. This structural change aligns our residential zoning code with the 2040 LUP, making it easier to implement the policy goals of the Comprehensive Plan moving forward.  

2. Do our adopted plans change over time?

Yes! Plans are intended to be living policy documents, and can be amended over time to address specific situations, and to be responsive to changing economic or physical conditions. The current plan, Anchorage 2020, was adopted in 2001, but substantially updated in 2017 with the adoption of the Land Use Plan (including a more detailed map).

Changing a plan requires an amendment, which is reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission, and ultimately voted on by the Assembly as an ordinance. This may include changes to the text of the plan, a change to the official land use plan for one or more properties, or both. When a property is proposed for a rezone, for example, if the rezone is not already contemplated by the land use plan map, an amendment to the map must be made, before or concurrently with the rezone action, which is also an ordinance voted on by the Assembly.

A comprehensive plan amendment can also refer to adopting additional smaller-scale plans, such as neighborhood plans, which are formally adopted as elements of the comprehensive plan. Each time these smaller plans are adopted, it is an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan.

Comprehensive plans are intended to set policy for the next 20 years, and can be updated or replaced periodically. Creating a comprehensive plan, including public engagement, vision and goal setting, and creating implementation actions, can take three to five years, depending on the pace the community moves.

3. Our zoning code (Title 21) underwent a thorough rewrite in the 2000s through 2013, and has been updated several times since with additional sections. Why make more changes?

It is accurate that significant changes, described as a “rewrite" of our zoning code, were adopted in 2013, with later changes to certain residential zones such as R4A, and changes to design standards.

While the code update was intended to be an implementation action of the original comprehensive plan, the process took several years and did not make significant changes to existing residential zones (R1 through R10), or their dimensional standards—for example, in R-1, the minimum lot size for a single family house remained 6,000 sq ft in the new code, with 30% maximum lot coverage and setbacks of 20 ft (front), 5 ft (side), and 10 ft (rear).

So, what changed in Title 21? The code was expanded to include significantly stricter rules for primarily multi-family development (Chapter 21.07 Design Standards), a more complex system of corridors and other layers in addition to base zoning districts, and more specific rules for certain uses. The result of the 2013 Title 21 rewrite was a significant expansion of regulations, but ultimately selective implementation of the plan's intent: most attention was given to compatibility and aesthetic requirements for new development, without significant evaluation of whether the underlying dimensions or number of zoning districts should be revised to encourage more compact housing.

4. What is in AO 2023-87(S), introduced in August 2023, versus the draft ordinance language (PZC Case #2024-0006, Attachment 4, presented on March 18, 2024) and how are those related?

The HOME Initiative sponsors originally introduced a high-level policy ordinance, AO 2023-87, proposing to bring Anchorage's residential zoning code directly in line with the 2040 Land Use Plan: the ordinance proposed simplifying 15 current zones into 5 zones, from high-density (Urban Residential High) to low-density (Large Lot Residential), reflecting the diversity of neighborhoods in the Anchorage Bowl.

The substitute or (S) version updated the ordinance's implementation dates, Planning and Zoning Commission referral, and anticipated more work to come, detailing the specific rules (dimensional standards like height limits, setbacks from the property line, etc.) proposed for each new district.

In January 2024, the sponsors prepared a draft ordinance for discussion, including proposed dimensions for each zone, based on review and comparison of the existing zones combined into new ones. The draft ordinance, included with the Planning and Zoning Case (Attachment 4), proposes dimensional standards that, to the extent possible, choose the most flexible dimensions and parameters of the current zones in each category. The intent is to stay true to the broad policy set out in the Land Use Plan, while allowing more by-right development that is compatible in each zone.

1. Is this the same proposal to change all residential zoning to 1 or 2 zones?

No. A prior ordinance recommending full consolidation of residential zoning districts, AO 2023-66, was introduced in May 2023. This ordinance would have allowed a great deal of flexibility across all zones, but also would have been a departure from the policies in the Land Use Plan. Ultimately, this ordinance was postponed indefinitely by the Assembly in August 2023.

2. What are the expected impacts of HOME (changing residential zoning rules) on existing residents and properties?

Generally speaking, changes to zoning mostly impact properties when there is a change (new development, redevelopment, or an addition to a building). Unless you are planning to build, or your nearby neighbor has a plan to change their property, zoning changes would not have an immediate impact.

Anticipated impacts of this ordinance would be long term, incremental, and dependent on individual property owners and builders to initiate projects.

Property owners in Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), subdivisions with HOAs, condos, etc. remain governed by existing privately-enforced rules, many of which restrict denser development, use of ADUs, etc. People living in subdivisions with privately-governed rules would not be able to take advantage of these more flexible rules, such as dividing an existing home into 2 units, if it is not allowed in the HOA's declarations or internal rules.

3. How would HOME impact my property?

To see your current Land Use Designation (category on the Land Use Plan Map) and compare with current zoning district, see this interactive “slider" map that displays both layers and allows zooming in to the parcel level.

Anchorage has a wide variety of property types, even within the same zoning districts. In addition to the rules associated with each residential zoning district, a property may be located in a Transit Supportive Corridor, area designation making it eligible for certain tax credits, subject to additional restrictions if it is in certain transitional areas, and also may have property-specific Special Limitations applied to it by individual ordinance.

The Assembly cannot give planning or legal advice on an individual owner's situation, nor will the scope of this ordinance address all aspects of a single property's entitlements and applicable zoning rules—please consult with Planning Department staff, attorney, or development consultant to understand your specific situation and development options.

4. How could this ordinance increase certainty and predictability for builders?

Allowing more types of housing development by-right can reduce the time and costs associated with approval of entitlements.

Reducing the need for significant review and approval, such as a rezone or variance, also significantly reduces project risks associated with the public process. This includes the time and cost associated with public engagement, particularly in the face of opposition or objection from existing neighbors, but also reduces the risk of “down-zoning" and adding more restrictions on the property as a result of the approval process (via Planning and Zoning Commission or Assembly approval).

5. How could this ordinance encourage development of vacant land, dilapidated properties and reusing buildings?

Each individual property, and its legal, physical, and financial characteristics, is different—and the story for why a particular parcel or building sits empty is unique. However, there are common characteristics of underutilized properties in the Anchorage Bowl, and the property's zoning rules are often a factor.

Allowing more units per property would allow for dividing an existing house into multiple units, or adding additional units.

Increasing allowed density and types of housing introduces more options for the property owner to pursue projects that fit their needs, or more efficient use of the land by increasing the allowed footprint of development.

Many projects, including vacant properties and deteriorating buildings, are currently infeasible due to zoning restrictions, Special Limitations on that property specifically, and other circumstances. For example, Special Limitations have been placed on properties during a development planning process, which had the result of making the project infeasible and “killing it" financially, resulting in the project not moving forward.

Ultimately, a property's condition will change when its owner has the opportunity, resources, and risk tolerance to attempt development. Changing zoning rules will not solve the feasibility issue of every single under-utilized property, but it will significantly improve the regulatory landscape, and potentially remove limitations that have stopped productive use or reuse.

6. Why does HOME propose an areawide approach, and not targeted rezones specified in the Land Use Plan?

One of the primary implementation actions in the plan is to focus on increasing housing with a narrow, targeted approach: concentrate any new denser housing development near transit corridors and specified areas, such as Town Centers and Neighborhood Centers. This includes “Targeted Area Rezones," where density is increased in certain areas specified in the plan.

Planning staff have confirmed that despite being an implementation action, no targeted rezones have taken place since the plan's adoption in 2017, other than individual property rezones typically initiated by the owner. So, this approach has not been attempted, nor have staff taken a proactive, directed approach to enforce targeted development in these areas, such as disincentivizing or not approving development projects in other areas.
However, pursuing this particular implementation strategy is not recommended. The logic of this targeted geographic approach is flawed for several reasons:

  • Targeting only certain areas and groups of properties for new development does not reflect the reality of the housing market: development happens where the owner has the opportunity, resources, and risk tolerance to pursue a project. Focusing only on some areas, and not where there is a desire and willingness to build, creates missed opportunities for property owners and for the community as a whole.
  • Some of the LUP's specific areas to target are not aligned with current reality: for example, the Transit Supportive Corridors on the map were finalized before the re-design of the People Mover route system in the Bowl, resulting in some areas which have existing bus service and would appear to meet the criteria, but are not in an actual corridor designated on the map.
  • The areas identified in the LUP for the most new housing density are primarily already the densest areas of the city: areas were selected in part by assumed transit ridership, for example, which is correlated with neighborhoods with relatively denser housing, lower rate of car ownership, and also lower household income. Conversely, areas with good transit service and higher income or rates of home ownership, for example, are not prioritized in the plan, but represent areas in which residents have transportation mode choices, with opportunities to reduce car dependency by walking, biking, or taking transit to some of their destinations.
  • Other areas that have similar characteristics that make them desirable for new housing, such as proximity to urban and commercial centers, transit access, and existing amenities like parks, are not identified in the plan as areas to “target" for more housing. Many of these areas are low-density neighborhoods which have historically advocated to exempt their areas from change.
  • Finally, the urgency and scale of our housing shortage has continued to escalate in recent years, to a degree that was not previously contemplated in prior plans. If the targeted implementation approach has not yet been implemented, and is not expected to produce the pace or scale of change needed to address the housing shortage, it is reasonable to explore other ways to achieve our goals.

7. How does HOME reflect the needs of the Hillside District Plan, including the unique typographical, seismic and infrastructure characteristics of the area?

The 2010 Hillside District Plan provided guidelines for growth before the adoption of the 2040 Land Use Plan was available to provide more up-to-date comprehensive guidance for the entire Bowl.  It proposed a number of specific design standards to deal with a range of environmental risks. But the document is clear in the need to accommodate growth.

According to this 2010 plan, the area had a planned density of up to 5,000 new housing units from that time forward, and property data from 2024 suggests that the Hillside has built only around 900 units of new housing since 2010. This indicates that there is still capacity for over 4,000 new housing units in the area.
Allowing more flexibility with land already served by infrastructure and services would allow more efficient use of the  limited road infrastructure, limited land area, and sloped land more effectively.

The HOME proposal makes standards more specific for dealing with objective concerns about development. HOME applies the following to all Large Lot Residential development: “Except as noted in subsection 2.b. and 2.c below, any lot with an average slope of 20 percent or greater, or where adverse conditions associated with slope stability, erosion, or sedimentation are present as determined by the municipal engineer, shall comply with the standards of this subsection 21.07.020C."
The proposal expands standards to treat all lots on slopes in the same way, also addressing lot coverage and impervious surfaces.

​1. What is the Anchorage 2020 Comprehensive Plan, or the Anchorage 2040 Land Use Plan?

Generally speaking, zoning policy is an implementation tool of planning. Comprehensive plans and land use plans are intended to set broad policy, and specific implementation actions. Zoning code implements policy intent through setting entitlements (property rights) about what can be developed where, how tall or large buildings can be, and what land uses can happen in which areas.

The broad intent of the HOME Initiative is to make Anchorage zoning simpler, support more development of compact housing, and to implement the policy intent of our comprehensive plan (adopted in 2001) and land use plan (adopted in 2017). Both of these plans point to the need for more housing, and more types of housing in a variety of neighborhoods with amenities such as transit service, parks, and nearby commercial units, what the comprehensive plan calls the “Urban Transition" city development pattern.

However, the policy intent of these plans has not yet been achieved. A 2012 housing market assessment found that with Anchorage's projected demographic changes and other factors, we do not have sufficient existing units and available land to meet demand. In fact, the 2012 study estimated that we were over-built on single family homes relative to market demand, and without enough compact housing (condos, apartments, cottage homes, and other small housing units) to meet future demand. This finding has been affirmed by subsequent analyses of the market, and can be seen in the shortage of supply, low number of days on market, and increasing prices of existing housing.

2. ​How does this ordinance relate to other housing issues: institutional investors purchasing housing, short-term rentals, overall affordability?

HOME is one of several strategies being pursued by the Assembly to increase housing supply and choice for residents, many of which are documented in the Anchorage Housing Action Plan.

HOME is also focused on increasing choice in the housing market, with more options for attainable housing [link to ACDA report], because it will provide more options for property owners, small developers, and larger developers to build new and reuse existing stock.

While HOME, like any individual policy, cannot address all of our housing issues, it can make a significant difference by making our land use rules more flexible.

3. How does HOME relate to other recent Assembly actions changing zoning, such as making ADUs easier to build and removing barriers to building 3 and 4 plexes?

The HOME Initiative is only one piece of the work the Anchorage Assembly is doing to unite the community in the work to make Anchorage a place with affordable, abundant and diverse housing opportunities so that everyone who wants to live here can find a home that meets their needs and preferences.

In November 2022, the Anchorage Assembly unanimously approved AO 2022-80(S), As Amended, to eliminate parking minimum requirements. Learn more.

In January 2023, the Anchorage Assembly approved AO 2022-107, As Amended, to allow the development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in all residential and commercial zones. Learn more.

In December 2023, the Assembly took up a pair of ordinances to make building 3- and 4-plexes more affordable in areas where they are already allowed. Learn more.

The Anchorage Assembly's work is guided by the Housing Action Strategic Plan, drafted with a wave of community feedback building from Housing Action Week in Fall 2023.

4. Why not focus on affordable housing, especially if new construction is unlikely to be affordable to low-income residents?

The Housing Action Plan does identify several strategies to improve affordability of housing, especially for low-income residents and people experiencing homelessness.
Affordable housing is a specific term referring to housing for people below a certain income threshold, and often require significant subsidies to build, and/or for monthly rent, to ensure people with limited income can pay. Many people utilizing this type of housing also rely on housing vouchers, a form of rental assistance.
While new construction is not likely to be affordable for most people, unless it is development with significant public subsidies, HOME does have the potential to make reuse of existing older housing more feasible, including creation of small units within existing buildings, or addition of more units on an existing home.


Public Engagement

On September 26, 2023, the HOME Initiative was referred to the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) and Planning Department to identify and draft the needed revisions to Title 21, the Anchorage Comprehensive Plan and the 2040 Land Use Plan in order to implement the changes proposed by the initiative. The HOME Initiative is Planning Case No. 2024-0006.

On March 4, the sponsors presented on their updated draft​ in an online webinar. On March 18, PZC held a worksession and opened a public hearing on the item, where the sponsors presented a more detailed review​ of the proposal. PZC continued the public hearing to their May 20 meeting and welcomes public comments online​.

​​​Request a Meeting

The proposed changes are expected to come back to the Assembly in spring 2024.​​ In the meantime, the sponsors invite community organizations and housing enthusiasts to schedule conversations about the HOME Initiative through the end of May. If your organization or group would like to request a meeting, please email Assembly Legislative Services at wwmasls@anchorageak.gov​.

​​Community Meetings Held​

  • ACDA Board, 3/6/24
  • Anchorage Homebuilders (AHBA), 3/6/24
  • Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Make it Monday, 3/11/24
  • Anc. Chamber Young Professionals 3/12/24
  • Anchorage Chamber MAC, 3/13/24
  • North Star CC, 3/13/24
  • South Addition CC, 3/14/24
  • Government Hill CC, 3/21/24
  • Geotechnical Advisory Commission, 3/26/24
  • Rabbit Creek CC committee, 3/26/24
  • Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 87, 3/27/24
  • Spenard CC, 4/3/24
  • Assembly Community & Economic Development Committee (CEDC), 4/4/24
  • Alaska Black Caucus, 4/7/24
  • Sand Lake CC, 4/8/24
  • Federation of CCs, 4/17/24​
  • Watershed & Natural Resource Advisory Commission, 4/24/24​
  • Turnagain Community Council Land Use Committee, 4/29/24
  • University Area Community Council, 5/1/24
  • Hillside Area Land Owners (HALO), 5/2/24
  • AFL-CIO, 5/14/24
  • Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, 5/16/24
  • Airport Heights Community Council, 5/16/24

Community & Economic Development Committee

​Guide to Testimony

Assembly Focus on Housing


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