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Nathan Gwinn

Next Steps for Housing Action Plan Implementation

Nathan Gwinn, Assistant Planner II, 509.625.6893


Thursday, November 11, 2021 at 10:20 a.m.

Next Steps for Housing Action Plan Implementation

Updated November 22, 2021

The City identified seven items for next steps in implementation of the Spokane Housing Action Plan.These items could be included in the 2022 Plan Commission work program and would be adopted as code changes as early as February. The work program was a discussion topic at the Plan Commission workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 10, and joint Study Session with City Council on Thursday, Nov. 11.

The Housing Action Plan identified potential first steps necessary to address housing affordability. Following any code revisions, residents could see new types of housing in their neighborhoods. For example, one recommendation that could be included is the introduction of small-scale duplex development in areas where single-family houses are more common. A duplex is a building that contains primary homes for two families living independently on a single lot. Additional duplex development would give renters more housing options, increasing overall supply in the community. However, in allowing additional duplex development as part of this first phase of code changes, design standards and neighborhood compatibility will be taken into consideration.

In many established neighborhoods, the City expects little physical change on any given block. But on a larger scale and in growing neighborhoods, the ability for additional owners or developers to choose to build duplexes, accessory dwelling units, and attached housing is part of a coordinated strategy to provide greater relief and economic opportunity to residents facing affordability challenges. To ensure new development fits into existing neighborhoods, building and parking design requirements will make the new homes compatible with the scale and design of surrounding single-family homes.

Spokane was one of 44 communities awarded grant funding this month from the Washington Department of Commerce. The aim of the grant is to assist cities and counties in completing zoning changes to allow more housing and a greater variety of housing types, and help cities encourage developers to build smaller and more affordable housing. The City will use the grant money to implement some of the recommended changes from the Housing Action Plan, which are being considered by the Plan Commission and City Council for the 2022 work program.

Phase 1 Residential Development Code Changes

Detached ADU

The subjects being discussed for work to address housing needs in the Development Code would include revisions to regulations for:

  • Duplexes
  • Accessory dwelling units (ADUs)
  • Attached housing (townhouses)
  • Lot size transition on new developments over two acres
  • Short subdivisions (up to 9 lots)
  • Environmental review thresholds
  • Short-term rentals

This work program item covering all of these topics could include some of the related ideas flagged in both the Housing Action Plan and Mayor Woodward’s Proclamation Addressing the Housing Emergency. After discussing these recommended changes and considering any other related ideas that should be explored, the Plan Commission and City Council would then each hold public hearings, prior to adoption.

Phase 2 Residential Development Code Changes

Fourplex

Once the first phase of residential development code changes are in place, a second phase of additional changes discussed in the Housing Action Plan will be proposed. Those changes may require Comprehensive Plan amendments, such as increases to the number of homes allowed per acre of land, allowing additional housing types in single-family areas, or establishing additional residential zoning districts. Even with those changes in place, many single-family neighborhoods won’t look or function differently, but Spokane residents could see benefits in key locations where growth is encouraged near commercial centers and transit.

Get Engaged

Stay tuned for updates following discussions and adoption of the 2022 Plan Commission work program. Individuals and organizations interested in being on the mailing list should email DevelopmentCode@spokanecity.org or call at (509) 625-6500.

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