05.10.24

Missing Middle Tacoma Grants, Leader in Housing

The City of Tacoma started developing its Home in Tacoma Project (HIT) in 2020 which was adopted by the City Council 12/2021 (ordinance 28793).  This set the stage for the establishment of a blueprint for community growth with new residential zoning, development standards, affordability, and anti-displacement actions. The state legislature in 2023 adopted several housing-related bills, including House Bill 1110, which has the city re-examining HIT to ensure consistency with the legislature’s direction.

According to the Home in Tacoma Phase 2 Document, the City’s policy direction includes:

  • Missing middle housing – Single-family zoning will be replaced by new Urban Residential (UR) zoning that enables a range of house-scale buildings with multiple units, also known as middle housing.
  • Housing growth scenario – Set geography, building scale, and density targets for development.
  • Housing types – New housing types, number of dwellings, and framework for permitting.

Middle housing refers to homes that are middle scale and located between single-family houses and large multi-family complexes. These can be duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, courtyard apartments, cottages, and townhomes.

Policy changes like these in Tacoma have begun to take hold across Washington facilitated by guidance prepared by the Department of Commerce to implement the middle housing requirements found in HB 1110. 

To account for differing HB 1110 requirements based on a city’s population, model ordinances have been prepared to assist cities with a population less than 25,000; cities 25,000 – 75,000 in population; and cities greater than 75,000 in population.

As local communities grapple with how to implement these new regulations and amend local zoning codes they will have to consider:

  • Definitions of housing types
  • Relationships between HB 1110 and other recent housing legislation
  • Design standards and parking requirements
  • Exemptions offered for affordable housing, parking, etc.
  • Alternative compliance options

As our state faces a housing shortage, especially for first-time home buyers and seniors wishing to downsize, but stay in their communities, middle housing is an attractive alternative for cities to implement.

AHBL’s planning team is currently assisting a number of cities integrate HB 1110 provisions for middle housing into local plans and regulations.

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