Missing Middle Housing

What's Happening?

The Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board issued an order of invalidity on the City’s Missing Middle Housing Ordinance. This means the ordinance is no longer in effect. The City is requesting reconsideration of the decision. This webpage will be updated when decisions are made.

On October 30, 2019 the GMHB issued an order denying the City's Motion to Dismiss and to Rescind Invalidity.  The City has filed a Petition for Review before Thurston County Superior Court.

This webpage will be updated when decisions are made.

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.

Olympia's Missing Middle Project has been looking at ways to increase opportunities for more Missing Middle Housing in Olympia.

  • 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.

audience watching speaker at public meeting

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.

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

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.

The City requested that the Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) complete a residential capacity analysis examining the effects of the proposed development regulations.

The LUEC completed its recommendations on two issues referred to it by the Olympia City Council.

  1. 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.)
  2. 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)