The proposed city of Olympia code revisions regarding Missing Middle housing present a measured approach to planning for the significant population increase expected to occur during the next decade or two.
These proposed revisions would allow for the possibility of greater housing density to occur over time, bringing housing benefits of affordability, versatility and equity, in addition to minimizing sprawl. The revisions would not force or mandate that neighborhoods change their character or require that they add any of the newly available housing options. It would simply allow the possibility. Property owners could choose to build using the higher-density options allowed under the proposal, and some surely would. Others would not. I do not expect a mad dash to overhaul neighborhoods overnight.
Further, the proposals do not alter design guidelines at all -- those same guidelines that apply to new construction currently would also apply to the higher-density construction options. This means that new developments will have to reasonably blend with the existing neighborhood, helping to preserve that sense of “neighborhood character.”
These housing proposals have not been rushed through and foisted upon the public at the last minute to deny citizens the right to weigh in on possible changes; rather, the process has been a deliberate one, lasting over a year and involving numerous public forums that involved a variety of stakeholders. I commend the city’s leadership and staff on how it has led this thorough and thoughtful process to plan for the coming population growth.