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.
Olympia's Missing Middle Project has been looking at ways to increase opportunities for more Missing Middle Housing in Olympia.
Missing Middle projects goals...
Comprehensive Plan policies related to Missing Middle housing...
- 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
- 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.
What's Happening Now?
The final ordinance was adopted by the full City Council on Monday, November 5, 2018. The ordinance will become effective December 17, 2018.
The Process - How We Got Here
The Missing Middle Housing analysis began in 2017 with a citizen work group that reviewed existing city regulations – such as zoning, permit fees, utility connection charges, etc. – for effects on housing affordability, and city livability and sustainability.
Recommendations to increase the variety of housing types allowed in most neighborhoods were reviewed by the Olympia Planning Commission through the first half of 2018, with a broad range of community input.
Learn more about each step and the associated documents by clicking the dropdowns below.
Research Existing Conditions and Opportunities
Analysis of Existing Codes, Fees and Standards
We researched how much of each missing middle housing type is in Olympia and looked at potential opportunities and barriers to success.
Missing Middle Workgroup
We examined the original reasons for existing requirements, and looked at the tradeoffs of potential changes to those requirements to better enable construction of Missing Middle Housing.
- Accessory Dwelling Units: Building Height
- Accessory Dwelling Units: Owner Occupancy
- Accessory Dwelling Units: Parking Requirements
- Tiny Homes, Townhouses, Duplexes, Triplex & Fourplex Units: Design Guidelines
- Tiny Homes, Townhouses, Duplexes, Triplex & Fourplex Units: Impact Fees
- Tiny Homes, Townhouses, Duplexes, Triplex & Fourplex Units: Parking
- Tiny Homes, Townhouses, Duplexes, Triplex & Fourplex Units: Utility Fees
- Tiny Homes, Townhouses, Duplexes, Triplex & Fourplex Units: Zoning Provisions
- Cottage Housing: Zoning and Phasing
- Courtyard Apartments & Single Room Occupant (SRO) Buildings: Design Review
- Garden Apartments, Courtyard Apartments, & Boarding Houses: Zoning
- Manufactured Homes: Zoning and Design Guidelines
- Chapter 18.170 Multi-Family Residential
- Courtyard Apartments, Cottage Housing, Single-Room Occupancy, Manufactured Homes: Parking
The Missing Middle workgroup was established to look at potential barriers and how we might overcome them. Their feedback helped guide the process and helps the City determine next steps.
Thurston Regional Planning Council Analysis
Environmental review of the proposed changes was completed and a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) was issued. An appeal of the DNS was received, and a decision to dismiss the appeal has been issued by the Olympia Hearing Examiner.
Planning Commission Recommendations
The City requested that the Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) complete a residential capacity analysis examining the effects of the proposed development regulations.
Land Use & Environment Committee Recommendations
The Olympia Planning Commission (OPC) made its recommendations on the Missing Middle Housing code changes in July 2018.
The LUEC completed its recommendations on two issues referred to it by the Olympia City Council.
- Do not limit the number of townhouses allowed in one structure. (Note: Townhouse projects of five or more residences are reviewed by the Design Review Board.)
- Allow triplexes, fourplexes and courtyard apartments in the R 4-8 zoning district when the properties are within 600 feet of commercial zoning districts, including neighborhood centers with commercial zoning; within 600 feet of portions of Division St, Bethel St, and Boulevard Road; and on properties across the street from R 6-12 zoning districts on 18th Ave. SE and 22nd Ave SE. (Click here for maps and a table showing LUEC recommendations and affected properties with capacity for additional development)