After more than a year in the works, proposed zoning changes to encourage more types of housing to be built in Olympia will get a public hearing before the city’s planning commission on Monday.
Olympia’s population is expected to grow by 20,000 people over the next 20 years. Instead of building out, city officials want to fill in existing areas with duplexes, triplexes, cottages, apartments built around courtyards, tiny homes and Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, which are smaller dwellings located on the same lot as a single-family house.
City officials have called them the “missing middle,” which refers to housing types that fall between apartment buildings and single-family homes. Because of current regulations, there are not many of these being built in Olympia.
▪ allowing duplexes in most residential neighborhoods and triplexes and fourplexes in more residential neighborhoods
▪ raising height restrictions on ADUs to allow them to be built over detached garages and removing the requirement that the property owner live either in the main house or the ADU
▪ requiring just one off-street parking spot per tiny home on a foundation and no additional parking spaces if it is used as an ADU
An analysis by the Thurston Regional Planning Council found the changes could add up to 946 units on undeveloped land over 20 years, in addition to conversions and additions to existing properties.
Reviews so far have been mixed. In a survey by the city in November, a majority of people strongly agreed with changes to allow for more ADUs and tiny homes. There was less support for triplexes, fourplexes and courtyard apartments.
Supporters say the changes will create more affordable housing options and encourage small-scale development that can be done by local developers. But opponents — including a Facebook group called Olympians Opposing the Missing Middle Housing Proposal — have sought to slow down the process, arguing the changes are unnecessary and could lower property values.
The city’s planning commission will hold a public hearing on the changes at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Public comment can be given at Monday’s hearing or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Monday.
After the hearing, the planning commission will make a recommendation to the City Council, which will have the final say on whether the changes go through.