City of Spokane

Spokane Municipal Code

Title 17C
Chapter 17C.110
Section 17C.110.350

Title 17C Land Use Standards

Chapter 17C.110 Residential Zones

Section 17C.110.350 Cottage Housing
  1. Purpose and Intent.
    The intent of cottage housing is to:

    1. Support a diversity of housing choices citywide by providing a housing type that responds to changing household sizes and ages (e.g., retirees, small families, single-person households);

    2. Require specific design standards on the perimeter of the development to improve compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood;

    3. Incentivize higher levels of design, usable open space, and more livable developments through use of density bonuses;

    4. Provide opportunities for ownership of small, detached and attached single-family housing types clustered around a centrally located, functional common open space that fosters a sense of community; and

    5. Provide semi-private areas around the individual dwellings to enable diversity in landscape design and foster a sense of ownership.


  1. Qualifying Situations.
    Cottage housing developments are allowed in the RA through RTF zones on sites of fourteen thousand five hundred square feet or larger with a minimum of four units.

  2. Procedure.
    Cottage housing is allowed by Type II conditional use permit in the RA, RSF, and RTF zones, subject to compliance with subsections (D) and (E) of this section. When cottage housing development involves subdivision of land, the permit application shall be processed concurrently with a Type II or Type III application for subdivision in accordance with the procedures of SMC 17G.080.065, Alternative Residential Subdivisions. If processed concurrently with a subdivision of greater than nine lots, the permit application shall be processed concurrently with the Type III subdivision application. This section is subject to the provisions of SMC 17C.110.015, Design Standards Administration. Staff will review the site plan and each building permit application for consistency with this chapter.

    1. A site plan depicting building locations and orientation, dimensions of common and private open space, fencing, landscaping, parking, setbacks, easements, footprints of all adjacent structures, and compliance with subsections (D) and (E) of this section shall be submitted with the permit application. If the site plan is approved, deed restrictions for the subject property that enforce the elements of the cottage housing ordinance, including limitation on unit floor area, shall be recorded at the Spokane County auditor’s office.

    2. The permit application shall include elevations of all proposed model types, showing architectural expression and fenestration (to include window and door placement), and photographs of all adjacent structures.

    3. Common open space, parking areas, and common use buildings will be maintained by the owner or an appropriate property management entity, if under singular ownership. In the event that the development is subdivided or condominium platted, a homeowners’ association is required to be created for the maintenance of the common open space, parking areas and common use areas, buildings, and utilities within the development. This requirement shall be included in deed restrictions as required in paragraph 1.

    4. With the exception of critical or natural areas, prior to occupancy of more than fifty percent of units approved for the development, the common open space, and private open space landscaping for those units, shall be completed in accordance with the approved landscaping plans. Occupancy of the last fifty percent shall be contingent upon the completion of all site landscaping.

  3. Cottage Housing Site Development Standards.
    This subsection provides development standards intended to achieve compatibility with adjacent single-family residential uses. Emergency access shall be provided to all units as required by applicable building and fire code regulations. The special cottage housing site development standards table displays basic requirements that vary from the development standards of the underlying zone.

    TABLE 17C.110.350-1
    Cottage Housing Site Development Standards



    Cluster Size

    4 or more units

    Maximum Floor Area [1]

    Detached Cottage: 1,200 sq. ft.(1,000 sq. ft. footprint)
    Attached Unit Home: 2,000 sq. ft. total
    Carriage Unit: 800 sq. ft.

    Density Bonus [2]

    20 or 40 percent above the maximum density in the zone

    Maximum wall height for Cottage Housing Units [3]

    20 ft.

    Maximum roof height for buildings with minimum
    roof slope of 6:12 [4]

    30 ft.

    Minimum common open space per unit [5]

    300 sq. ft.

    Minimum private open space per unit [6]

    200 sq. ft.

    Setback from common open space [7]

    10 ft.

    Rear setback [8]

    15 ft.

    Minimum distance between structures (Including accessory structures) [9]

    10 ft.

    Minimum parking spaces required

    1 per unit,
    plus 1 per bedroom after 2 bedrooms

    [1] See SMC 17C.110.350(D)(2) for limitation on total unit floor area and exclusions for below-grade basements and other spaces from floor area calculation.
    [2] See SMC 17C.110.350(D)(3)
    [3] The height of the lowest point of the roof structure intersects with the outside plane of the wall. See SMC 17C.110.350(D)(4)
    [4] All parts of the roof above 20 ft. shall be pitched with a minimum roof slope of 6:12.
    [5] No dimension of the common open space shall be less than 20 ft. See SMC 17C.110.350(D)(5)
    [6] No dimension of the private open space shall be less than 10 ft. See SMC 17C.110.350(D)(6)
    [7] Porches or patios are allowed up to 6 ft. within this setback.
    [8] Measured from property line on exterior of development. See SMC 17C.110.350(D)(7) for exceptions for accessory structures and carriage units.
    [9] See SMC 17C.110.350(D)(7) for exceptions.

    1. Cluster Size.
      At least four 17C.110.350.D.1units are required around a common open space.

    2. Floor Area.

      1. Dwelling Units.
        Floor area is defined in SMC 17A.020.060, and for the provisions of this section SMC 17C.110.350 excludes any space identified in SMC 17C.110.350(D)(2)(c), Exclusions, below. Cottage housing unit types are defined in SMC 17A.020.030.

        1. The total floor area of each cottage unit shall not exceed one thousand two hundred square feet and the footprint shall not exceed one thousand square feet.

        2. The total combined floor area of attached unit homes, including all units in the structure and the total footprint, shall not exceed two thousand square feet.

        3. The total floor area of a carriage unit home shall not exceed eight hundred square feet.

      2. Limitation on Total Unit Floor Area.
        The total square footage of a cottage housing dwelling unit may not be increased. A note shall be placed on the title to the property for purpose of notifying future property owners that any increase in the total square footage of a cottage housing unit is prohibited for the life of the cottage housing unit or the duration of the City cottage housing regulations.

      3. Exclusions from Total Floor Area Calculation.
        In addition to exclusions in the definition of floor area in 17A.020.060, cottage housing unit areas that do not count toward the total floor area calculation are:

        1. Architectural projections, such as bay windows, fireplaces or utility closets no greater than eighteen inches in depth or six feet in width;

        2. Stairways;

        3. Spaces with ceiling height of five feet or less; and

        4. Other exemptions similar in nature provided the intent of this section is met and upon approval of the director.

    3. 17C.110.350.D.3Density.

      1. Density Bonus.

        1. The cottage housing development is permitted a twenty percent density bonus above what is allowed in the zone.

        2. To encourage smaller dwelling units, cottage housing development is permitted a forty percent density bonus above what is allowed in the zone provided that:

          1. The development is located at least partially within one thousand three hundred twenty feet of a CC, CA, or DT zone or CC3 zoning overlay, as measured in a straight line between the zone/overlay boundary to the lot line of the site containing the development; and

          2. All units in the development are five hundred square feet or less; and

          3. Only a maximum of two dwelling units are allowed within twenty-five feet of any rear lot line of RSF-zoned lots of less than ten thousand square feet in size with a single-family residential use that abuts the development; and

          4. A sight-obscuring fence or wall, at least six feet in height where permitted by the fence requirements of SMC 17C.110.230, shall be provided on those abutting rear lot lines described in paragraph (C) above, in addition to the required landscape standard of SMC 17C.110.350(E)(2)(a); and

          5. A community building is provided for use of the residents that supports small living, such as laundry facilities, working or meeting space, exercise room, community kitchen, or other such facility meeting the intent of this paragraph. The community building shall be in addition to and located adjacent to the required common open space; or

          6. The requirement for the community building may be waived by the director upon an affirmative finding that the cottage housing development is otherwise adequately provided with those functions typically served by such a facility, as described above. The applicant assumes the burden of proof. When making this decision, the director shall consider the walking proximity of the site to locations that provide laundry services, food preparation, public gathering areas, and other community facilities.

      2. The transition lot size requirements of SMC 17C.110.200(C) do not apply for purposes of calculating the number of units permitted in a cottage housing development.

      3. The following formula is used to determine the maximum number of units allowed on the site:

        Square footage of site, less the area set aside for right-of-way and tracts of land dedicated for access and/or stormwater facilities;

        Divided by maximum density from Table 17C.110-3;

        To achieve the density bonus, multiply by 1.2, or by 1.4, if eligible under SMC 17C.110.350 (D)(3)(a)(ii) above;

        Equals maximum number of units allowed. If this formula results in a decimal fraction, the resulting maximum number of units allowed is rounded to the next whole number. Decimal fractions of five tenths or greater are rounded up. Fractions less than five tenths are rounded down.

    4. Height.
      The height for all structures with cottage housing units shall not exceed twenty feet. Structures with cottage housing units having pitched roofs with a minimum slope of 6:12 may extend up to thirty feet at the ridge of the roof. Height requirements for accessory structures are listed in Table 17C.110-3.

    5. Common Open Space.

      1. This section requires units clustered around a common open space. The common open space shall be at least three hundred square feet per cottage housing unit. Open space with any dimension of less than twenty feet shall not be included in the calculated common open space.

      2. Common open space shall be located in a central area and be easily accessible to all dwellings within the surrounding cluster.

      3. Landscaping located in common areas shall be designed by a Landscape Architect registered in the State of Washington. The design shall follow standards in:

        1. SMC 17C.110.350(D)(5)(d) for open space preservation in site design;

        2. Subsection (D)(8) for fences and screening;

        3. Subsection (D)(9) for parking areas;

        4. Subsection (D)(10) for pedestrian connectivity;

        5. Subsection (E)(2) for open space and landscaping design standards and guidelines; and

        6. For all other parts of the common open space, the design shall be lawn or follow the general requirements and L3 open area landscaping described in SMC 17C.200.030 Landscape Types.

      4. d. The following critical and natural areas, where proposed to be preserved through site design, may be used to meet up to fifty percent of the total requirement for common open space, provided that these areas are either accessible to pedestrians to the extent practical or visually accessible from adjacent common open space:

        1. Wetlands and wetland buffers;

        2. Frequently flooded areas;

        3. Shorelines and Shoreline buffers;

        4. Natural features (such as basalt outcroppings); and

        5. Native vegetation (including stands of mature trees).

    6. Private Open Space.
      A private use open space of two hundred square feet shall be provided for each cottage housing unit, which may include porches or balconies. Open space with any dimension of less than ten feet shall not be included in the calculated private open space. The private open space shall be contiguous to each unit, for the exclusive use of that unit’s resident(s).

    7. Setbacks and Subdivisions.

      1. All cottage housing units shall maintain a minimum of ten feet of separation from structures within the cluster, except as allowed in paragraph (b) below.

      2. Projections may extend into the required separation as follows:

        1. Eaves may extend up to twenty-four inches.

        2. Architectural projections, such as bay windows, fireplaces or utility closets no greater than eighteen inches in depth or six feet in width.

        3. Minor appurtenances such as pipes, gas and electrical meters, HVAC equipment, alarm systems, air vents, and downspouts.

      3. Setbacks for all structures from the exterior side and front property lines shall be the setbacks of the underlying zone. The exterior rear yard setback shall be fifteen feet, except as provided for accessory structures under SMC 17C.110.225. Carriage units built adjacent to an alley shall meet the setback for attached accessory structures in SMC 17C.110.225(C)(6)(b).

      4. All cottage housing units shall maintain a minimum setback of ten feet from the common open space. Patios or porches may extend up to six feet within this setback. Fences thirty-six inches in height or less may be located within this setback. See Figure 17C.110-C.

      5. When cottage housing development involves subdivision of land, the application shall be processed in accordance with the procedures of SMC 17G.080.065, Alternative Residential Subdivisions. Frontage on a public street is not required for lots created in a cottage housing development.

    8. Fences.

      1. All fences on the interior of the development shall be no more than thirty-six inches in height.

      2. Fences along the exterior property lines are subject to the fence requirements of SMC 17C.110.230.

      3. Chain link fencing is not allowed that is visible from and/or adjacent to the external project boundary. Chain link fencing must be painted or vinyl coated and all part must be a uniform dark matte color such as black or other dark color.

    9. Parking.
      Parking requirements for cottage housing are as stated for residential uses in chapter 17C.230 SMC, Parking and Loading, except as modified in this subsection.

      1. General Parking Requirements.

        1. The minimum number of parking spaces required for cottage housing units shall be one parking space per dwelling unit, plus one parking space per bedroom after two bedrooms. The director may approve a lower minimum under SMC 17C.230.130(C).

        2. Parking, garages, and vehicular maneuvering areas, excluding driveways, shall be set back a minimum of twenty feet from a public street lot line.

        3. All parking shall be separated and screened from adjacent public streets, residential areas, and the common open space by landscaping and/or architectural screen, consistent with landscape type L2 see-through buffer in SMC 17C.200.030, Landscape Types.

        4. Parking areas shall be located to the side or rear of cottage clusters and not between a public street and cottage housing structures. Parking may be located between structures and an alley.

        5. Garage doors and/or carport openings shall not face a public right-of-way except where alley access is provided.

      2. Surface parking shall be configured in clusters of not more than five adjoining spaces. To allow more efficient use of the site in some parking configurations, the minimum parking spaces and aisle dimensions shall follow the standards in Table 17C.230-4.

      3. Attached Garages and Carports.

        1. Garages may be attached to individual cottage housing units provided all other standards herein are met and the footprint of the ground floor, including the garage, does not exceed the maximum allowed under SMC 17C.110.350(D)(2). Such garages shall not abut the common open spaces, but may abut and shall access an alley, if provided under SMC 17H.010.130.

        2. Attached garages and carports for cottages and attached housing units shall not exceed four hundred square feet per unit. Attached garages below carriage units shall not exceed the total for detached garages.

        3. Excavated basement garages may be allowed. The first floor elevation shall be no more than three feet above finished grade.

      4. Detached Garages and Carports.
        Detached garage structures and carports shall not exceed a total of one thousand five hundred square feet.

    10. Pedestrian Connectivity.

      1. The pedestrian circulation system shall connect all main entrances on the site. For cottage housing units fronting the street, the public sidewalk may be used to meet this standard.

      2. Direct pedestrian access should be provided to adjacent, publicly accessible parks, open space, and trails, transit, rideshare, and bicycle storage facilities, where feasible.

      3. Pedestrian walkways shall be separated from structures by at least three feet.

      4. Pathways in common open space and other shared areas of the development must be at least five feet wide and meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

    11. Attached Unit Homes and Carriage Units.
      Attached unit homes and carriage units, defined in chapter 17A.020 SMC, are permitted within cottage housing developments, subject to the applicable site development standards and design standards and guidelines of this section. A maximum of two units may be attached in a single attached unit home structure.

    12. Existing Structures.

      1. Existing detached single-family residential structures may be permitted to remain.

      2. Retained existing structures will be counted in calculating density and building coverage on the site.

      3. Existing structures may be modified to be more consistent with this section. For example, roof pitches may be increased consistent with subsection (D)(4) Height above, but neither the building ground floor nor total floor area may be increased beyond the maximum allowed in this section.

    13. Community Buildings.

      1. Community buildings are permitted as accessory structures in cottage developments, and shall not contain a dwelling unit.

      2. Community buildings shall be located within the cottage housing development.

  4. Design Standards and Guidelines.

    1. Orientation and Building Facades.

      1. Each building abutting a public street shall have a minimum of four of the following building elements, features, and treatments incorporated into the street-facing facade: (R)

        1. Windows with visible trim and mullions or recessed windows.

        2. Dormers.

        3. Bay windows.

        4. Entry enhancement such as a well detailed door (multi-panel or glass insert), window adjacent to front door (sidelite).

        5. Variation in roof or building colors and materials, on individual units, such as brick, stone or other masonry as accents.

        6. Other building elements, treatments, features, or site designs approved by the director that provide variety and visual interest.

      1. Exterior stairs that provide access to an upper level are not allowed on the front facade of the building. (R)

      2. Parking lots, garages, and solid, blank wall facades shall not dominate common areas or other public areas. (R)

      3. Each of the units abutting a public street must have its address, windows, and main entrance oriented toward the street frontage. (R)

      4. Attached unit homes abutting public streets shall be designed to appear like a detached single-family home, with only one entry per building face/elevation. Attached unit homes on corner lots shall be designed so each unit is oriented towards a different street. This gives the structure the overall appearance of a house when viewed from either street. (R)

      5. Units that are on the interior of a development should be oriented toward the common open space or the most important path or street. (P)

      6. Design of attached units and carriage units shall be similar in terms of style, materials, color, detailing, articulation, fenestration (including window and door placement), etc., of the entire development. (P)

    2. Open Space and Landscaping.

      1. A planting strip five feet in width shall be provided along exterior rear and side property lines consistent with L2 see-through buffer landscape standard of SMC 17C.200.030. (R)

      2. All street-facing facades must have landscaping along the foundation. There must be at least one three-gallon shrub for every three lineal feet of foundation. (R)

      3. Sixty percent of the area between the front lot line and the front building line must be landscaped. At a minimum, the required landscaped area must be planted with living ground cover. Up to one-third of the required landscaped area may be for recreational use, or for use by pedestrians. Examples include walkways, play areas, or patios. (R)

      4. Use of planting materials and landscape structures such as trellises, raised beds and fencing to unify the overall site design is required, with plantings consistent with L3 open area landscaping standard of SMC 17C.200.030. (R)

      5. At least fifty percent of the units in the development shall abut a common open space. A cottage housing unit is considered to “abut” an area of open space if there is no structure between the unit and the open space. (P)

      6. Common area sidewalks should be located at the edge of the common open space, and separated from private open space by narrow plantings and/or fencing. (P)

      7. No more than one driveway per cottage cluster should be permitted, except along an alley or where clusters front onto more than one street. (P)

      8. Landscaping and trees should be used to achieve compatibility in areas where these are unifying elements of community character. (C)

      9. To enhance the function of the required open spaces and delineate the thresholds between public and private areas, the following features are encouraged in the open spaces: (C)

        1. When a sidewalk in a common open space is adjacent to a private residence, a perimeter buffer of two feet should be provided between the sidewalk and the residence’s private open space.

        2. A residence’s private open space should be generously planted with a variety of plantings, such as herbaceous shrubs and flowers, and foundational plantings near the home.
          Figure 17C.110-C: Minimum Open Space and Maximum Porch Encroachment Dimensions

    3. Patios and Porches.

      1. Cottage housing units shall have a covered, unenclosed porch or entry at least sixty square feet in size with a minimum depth of six feet and minimum width of eight feet. (R)

      2. 17C.110.350.E.3.BIf the cottage housing unit is fronting on a public street then at least one primary entry porch shall be located to face the street. If the unit is not fronting on a public street then the covered porch shall be located on the side of the home that serves as the main entry from a common open space. (R)

      3. Porch or patio railings within the private open space should be semi-transparent and a maximum of forty-two inches in height. (C)

    4. Exterior Building Lighting.

      1. The common open space shall be provided with lighting in the common area or alternately, the individual units fronting on the common open space shall have exterior lighting features. (P)

      2. The design shall incorporate lighting fixtures on any shared access or external lighting on units facing private access areas. (P)

      3. To diminish the amount of glare and spillover from lighting, the following standards shall apply: (R)

        1. Intensity: Exterior lighting fixtures shall not exceed one foot-candle in intensity.

        2. Cutoffs Required: Lighting fixtures shall comply with the standards of SMC 17C.220.080.

    5. Variety in Design and Architectural Features.

      1. Reduce the potential impact of new cottage housing development on established and historic neighborhoods by incorporating elements and forms from nearby buildings. This may include reference to architectural details, building massing, proportionality, and use of high-quality materials such as wood, brick, and stone. (P)

      2. Create a human scale streetscape by including vertical and horizontal patterns as expressed by bays, belt lines, doors and windows. (P)

      3. Modulation and Articulation.

        1. 17C.110.350.E.5.CModulation and articulation should be incorporated on each individual building to add visual interest through shadows, human scale detailing, and textures while reducing the appearance of mass and scale of the buildings. The use of these techniques shall be varied between adjacent buildings. (P)

        2. Attached units must be modulated along the public street at least every thirty feet. Building modulations must step the building wall back or forward at least four feet. (R)

      4. Design of garage structures and carports shall be similar to the style, materials, color, detailing, articulation, fenestration, etc. of the cottage housing units. (R)

      5. Carriage unit homes shall not comprise more than fifty percent of the total dwelling units in a cottage housing development. (P)

      6. Detached, combined garages or carports are encouraged. (C)

Date Passed: Monday, January 29, 2018

Effective Date: Thursday, March 8, 2018

ORD C35575 Section 10