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Olympia's planning commission OKs 'missing middle' housing changes

A mixture of multi-family and single-family houses on Fifth Avenue Southeast in Olympia. The City Council on Monday approved changes that will allow more multi-family housing in the city’s low-density neighborhoods.
A mixture of multi-family and single-family houses on Fifth Avenue Southeast in Olympia. The City Council on Monday approved changes that will allow more multi-family housing in the city’s low-density neighborhoods. Olympian file photo, 2018

After months of deliberations, the Olympia Planning Commission has recommended a series of zoning-related changes that would allow more multifamily housing in low-density residential neighborhoods.

The changes — called “missing middle,” referring to housing types that fall between single-family homes and large apartment buildings — were proposed by city staff. The planning commission has been deliberating the more than 40 changes since April.

At its meeting Monday, it signed off on the changes but with a few tweaks:

  • Triplexes, fourplexes and courtyard apartments would be allowed in R4-8 residential zoning districts within 300 feet of a transit route or commercial district, instead of within 600 feet.

  • Single-room occupancy buildings would be required to have one off-street parking space for every four rooms, instead of one space for every room.

  • Duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, courtyard apartments and townhomes would be required to provide one off-street parking space for each unit and one and a half spaces if there is no on-street parking in the area.

The changes allow more “missing middle” housing throughout Olympia, things like duplexes, triplexes, tiny homes and mother-in-law apartments.

Next the changes will go to the Olympia City Council, which will have the final say.

The planning commission plans to send a letter to the City Council explaining its decision and highlighting areas where members disagreed. Those include allowing new duplexes in R4-8 districts, removing off-street parking requirements for accessory dwelling units, and no longer requiring property owners with accessory dwelling units to live on site.

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Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869
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