Residential Development Code Initiatives
June 27 City Council Public Hearing: Accessory Dwelling Units, Lot Size Transition, and Short Plats
Spokane has been working for years to address housing need while preserving community character and livability. To make changes based on the well-informed strategies in the Spokane Housing Action Plan (HAP), the City has identified seven code amendments that could be included in the 2022 Plan Commission work program and would be adopted as changes to the Spokane Municipal Code as early as spring 2022. The proposed changes are also guided by Mayor Woodward's July 26, 2021 Housing Emergency Proclamation and the City Council's HAP Implementation Plan.
Phase 1 code amendments are foundational to increasing housing supply, variety, and affordability and would provide necessary updates for the second phase of code changes. Phase 1 addresses development of attached houses (townhouses), duplexes, accessory dwellings, and smaller multifamily projects among other code amendments. Phase 2 code amendments may require Comprehensive Plan changes, exploring opportunities for increasing the number of homes allowed per acre of land, and permitting for a wider variety of housing types generally.
Illustration adapted from Missing Middle Housing by Opticos Design
To address the urgent demand for housing, under Phase 1 the City is exploring seven opportunities to encourage greater housing variety for current and future residents of all income levels in locations with access to services and travel options by amending the Unified Development Code.
Increase flexibility of development and design standards for Accessory Dwelling Units.
Clarify development regulations, and provide additional flexibility for natural topography or critical areas.
Reduce or streamline the notification and commenting requirements.
Encourage infill development, update development and design standards to integrate with neighborhood character.
Expand the permitted zoning districts and lot types, update design standards to integrate with neighborhood character.
Adopt exemption levels as permitted in WAC 197-11-800 to streamline permitting processes, add standards for discovery of historic artifacts.
Expand allowable zones to enable licensing compliance.
We want to hear from the community throughout the process for each code amendment. It is important that proposed changes to residential development and design standards meet Spokane's goals, giving all existing and future residents more options for housing types and locations.
Find upcoming agendas on the City Plan Commission webpage. Please follow the following video links to view and listen to recordings of the workshop presentations and discussion:
Emailed announcement about the Shaping Spokane Housing project.
The City of Spokane Planning Services department hosted two virtual open houses to provide information about the code amendments. The question and answer portions are included.
Historically, Spokane has offered a mix of housing options - from mansion apartments in the historic Browne's Addition, post-War era neighborhoods like Chief Garry Park, and suburban developments like Indian Trail. However, as the city has grown the diversity and supply of housing has not been able to meet the needs of all income levels. How do we know? As part of the Spokane Housing Action Plan (HAP), the City completed a Housing Needs Assessment to determine the types of housing residents need more of, as well as the displacement risk of various Census tracts throughout the city.
Washington's Growth Management Act (GMA) (Chapter 36.70A RCW) calls for promoting a variety of residential housing types and densities, preserving existing housing stock, and encouraging housing that is affordable to all income levels. To implement these policies, cities and counties planning under the GMA must include a housing element in their comprehensive plans, or a community's roadmap for growth.
The City of Spokane Comprehensive Plan reflects our community's values to support economic opportunity for all citizens with affordable housing and attractive neighborhoods. The document provides a vision of housing that is safe, clean, healthy, and attainable for all residents. And recent changes to State law (House Bill 1923) aim to increase residential capacity in cities across the state.
Responding to the new legislation, in July 2021, the City adopted its Housing Action Plan (HAP) to focus on implementation of housing policies and goals. The HAP identifies actions that the city can pursue to encourage more housing options and create more homes for more people. The Housing Action Plan built upon past initiatives and community discussions around infill development, housing quality, and affordable housing funding. The HAP yielded a coordinated set of strategies, based on community priorities, that supports more people being able to find a home that meets their needs with access to opportunities, services, and amenities.