Missing Middle Housing

Next Steps

The Olympia City Council considered the Planning Commission's recommendations at its regular meeting September 11, 2018. Recommendations related to triplexes, fourplexes and courtyard apartments in R4-8 zoning district, and whether to limit the number of townhouses allowed in one structure, were referred for consideration by the Council’s Land Use and Environment Committee at its meeting September 20, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.

The Olympia Planning Commission (OPC) has recommended changes to Olympia's zoning code to allow for more housing options in residential neighborhoods.  The Commission has issued a letter outlining its recommendations to the City Council.  The recommended changes are slightly different than those proposed by staff (primarily related to off street parking and proximity to transit routes for triplexes, fourplexes, and courtyard apartments in the R4-8 zoning district).



Note:  Draft changes are shown in “bill format” – showing proposed new language in underlined text; while language proposed to be deleted is shown in strikethrough text (Note: Existing hyperlinks are shown in blue underlined text). 


Written comments sent to missingmiddle@ci.olympia.wa.us after 5:00 p.m. on July 9, 2018 will be sent to the Olympia City Council.



Missing Middle housing in Olympia

What is Missing Middle Housing?

Missing Middle Housing refers to a range of housing types that can provide more than one housing unit per lot in a way that is compatible in scale with single-family homes.

Missing Middle Housing is a key component of the City's housing strategy, as it supports housing affordability for households across all income level - a key community vision in Olympia’s Comprehensive Plan.

  • PL16.2 Adopt zoning that allows a wide variety of compatible housing types and densities.
  • PL16.5 Support affordable housing throughout the community by minimizing regulatory review risks, time and costs and removing unnecessary barriers to housing, by permitting small dwelling units accessory to single-family housing, and by allowing a mix of housing types.
  • PL16.9 In all residential areas, allow small cottages and townhouses, and one accessory housing unit per home -- all subject to siting, design and parking requirements that ensure neighborhood character is maintained.
  • PL16.10 Require effective, but not unreasonably expensive, building designs and landscaping to blend multi-family housing into neighborhoods.
  • PS3.1 Promote a variety of residential densities and housing types so that housing can be available in a broad range of costs.

Background Information 

Staff Recommendations

Accessory Dwelling Unit in OlympiaAccessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s)

Smaller dwellings located on the same lot with a single-family house.

See proposed code changes




Cottage in OlympiaCottage Housing

Defined as “four or more small, detached dwelling units sharing a commonly owned courtyard or common area and parking area.”

See proposed code changes




Duplex in OlympiaDuplexes

A single building on one lot that contains two housing/dwelling units. They differ from Townhomes in that the duplex is on a single piece of property.

See proposed code changes (revised 1.11.18)
•  See maps of recommendations



Townhouses in OlympiaTownhouses

Townhouses are two or more units that are each connected by a structural wall. Each unit is on a separate property.

See proposed code changes




Triplex in OlympiaTriplexes and Fourplexes

Apartments containing three and four dwelling units, respectively.

See proposed code changes (revised 1.11.18)
See maps of recommendations



Tiny homeTiny Homes & Courtyard Apts

Tiny Homes proposed code changes 

Courtyard Apartments including maps of recommendations


Missing Middle Housing Opition Mobile Homes

 Single Room and Manufactured

• Single-room Occupancies code changes

• Manufactured Homes including maps of recommendations 



Apartment in OlympiaGeneral Provisions

There are a number of provisions in Olympia’s Municipal Code that affect numerous types of Missing Middle housing. Studies will need to be done to determine the impact of revisions to the code.

See the summary of existing regulations/proposed changes



Olympia's Missing Middle Project

The Missing Middle Project has been looking at ways to increase opportunities for more Missing Middle Housing in Olympia. The projects goals include:

  • Researching how much missing middle housing currently exists in Olympia
  • Determining how much more will be needed to accommodate future population growth affordably
  • Looking at Olympia’s regulations and fees and how they may be impacting property owners’ decisions on whether to build missing middle housing
  • Examining how additional missing middle housing can be added in a way that is compatible with existing neighborhoods

Project Components

We researched how much of each missing middle housing type is in Olympia and looked at potential opportunities and barriers to success.

Although not a formal decision making body, the Missing Middle workgroup was established to look at potential barriers and how we might overcome them. Their feedback helps guide the process and helps the City determine next steps.    

The City has drafted text changes to City code to carry out the recommendations emerging from this project. The proposed changes can be found with their individual housing types above.

After reviewing public comment and feedback, a formal process for adoption to the City code will start. It will include review by the Olympia Planning Commission, at least one public hearing, and final action by the Olympia City Council.


Contact Leonard Bauer at 360.753.8206 or send written comments to the Olympia Planning Commission to missingmiddle@ci.olympia.wa.us.