Letters to the Editor

“Missing Middle” changes good for city

Olympia’s proposed zoning changes to increase housing options are needed and long overdue. They are good for homeowners, good for neighborhoods, and good for our city.

As a homeowner, I ran up against our outdated laws when I purchased my current home, which included a half-finished, semi-detached “mother-in-law” apartment. Because of the requirement that the homeowner must forever-after live in either the main home or the attached unit, I changed my remodeling plans. (The only difference was not having a kitchen; I look forward to adding a kitchen if this law is revised.)

Since I moved here in the late ’90s, housing prices have far outpaced wages. We lack one-bedroom and studio housing options for singles and couples, and I know several young families who have struggled to find an affordable rental. The Missing Middle changes would increase availability of the homes they need at more affordable prices.

In 2003 I lived for a year in California’s Bay Area. Contrary to naysayers’ beliefs, residential neighborhoods with backyard cottages and multi-family homes were beautiful, walkable, full of families, and far more affordable than they would have been if the city had followed a outdated code like ours. The multitude of housing options encouraged multi-generational neighborhoods where students, families, and retired people lived and visited with each other, strengthening the fabric of the community as a whole.

The proposed changes are sensible updates that will improve our neighborhoods while giving homeowners more options, too. We should adopt them without delay.