Exclusionary zoning of Olympia neighborhoods has required that we build mostly single-family homes and has created an economically stratified city. If you’re unable to afford a single-family home, your options are limited. You’re most likely looking at an apartment in one of the high-density areas in east or west Olympia or you’re moving out of town.
While this may not have been the intent of our building regulations, the impact over time has been the gentrification of our neighborhoods.
Through the 1970s, Olympia allowed the construction of Missing Middle housing throughout the city. If you see see some multiplex housing in neighborhoods today, it was more than likely built in that era. There are only a few areas where duplexes are still allowed to be built and accessory dwelling units are allowed under stringent conditions. These are the most affordable housing units in our neighborhoods, especially compared to single-family homes.
It’s scary to think that the most affordable options in many of our neighborhoods would not be allowed to be built today under current zoning.
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The Missing Middle proposes to ease building codes so that we can build more housing that will cost less than a single-family home. It’s unfortunate that we’re in the current predicament that has allowed the cost of housing to skyrocket, and it’s time to move beyond that with codes that make our neighborhoods more inclusive. The longer we wait, the worse conditions will become in Olympia.