Tacoma unveils plan to do away with ‘single-family’ zoning label, reimagine housing options

Mar 11, 2021, 7:54 AM | Updated: 10:49 am
Tacoma housing market, single family zoning...
Tacoma's housing market is one of the most competitive ones in the entire nation. (John Lloyd, Flickr Creative Commons)

Tacoma has officially unveiled its plan to reimagine its single-family zoning, which would do away with the moniker entirely and divide the city into new categories that encourage what it’s calling “middle housing” options.

Did Seattle’s upzoning measure not go far enough?

Tacoma’s history as a city primarily zoned for residential homes dates back to the 1950s. Today, the Home in Tacoma Project planning commission estimates that the city is zoned 90% for single-family homes, and just 10% for multifamily buildings like large apartments, condos, and duplexes. A newly proposed plan from the commission would eliminate the “single family” and “multi-family” land use designations altogether, replacing them with “low-scale residential” and “mid-scale residential.”

Low-scale residential would group single-family homes together with duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, cottage housing, mobile homes, and mother-in-law units. Mid-scale residential would encompass more traditional large apartment complexes and live/work spaces.

A pair of potential options would either have the city be 75% low-scale and 25% mid-scale, or 40% low-scale and 60% mid-scale.

“The difference between the scenarios is the extent of each of the two proposed new Residential designations,” the commission notes. “Both scenarios include significant new housing options, with the most substantial increases in [the 40/60 split] Scenario 2.”

Tacoma housing market continues to heat up

Ultimately, the goal is to focus on expanding “middle housing” options, represented by housing options that provide more density than a simple single-family home, but aren’t as expansive as large apartment buildings. By grouping things like town homes and duplexes together in the low-scale residential category, the goal is to promote more diverse housing types in a city where they’re already in short supply.

The hope is to also update and increase incentives to ensure that portions of new middle housing options are set aside for affordable housing developments.

The proposal from the Home in Tacoma Project was compiled at the direction of Tacoma City Council, “informed by extensive stakeholder engagement and technical analysis.” Now that it’s fully unveiled, the timeline for its further development and potential approval is scheduled to move ahead as follows:

  • Thursday, March 18: Information meeting held over Zoom
  • Wednesday, April 7: Public hearing over Zoom
  • Friday, April 9: Deadline for comments that residents can send to [email protected]
  • June 2021: Tacoma City Council scheduled to take action on these proposals
  • December 2021: Deadline for staff and planning commission to provide updates to zoning and development standards to the eventual policy the council adopts.

Local News

unemployment benefits...
Nicole Jennings

People quitting over vax mandate may qualify for unemployment benefits

Do people quitting their jobs over the vaccine mandate qualify for unemployment benefits? That all depends on a certain set of circumstances.
21 hours ago
covid memorial...
MyNorthwest Staff

King County councilmember proposes memorial for lives lost to COVID

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is proposing the creation of a public art memorial to honor those who lost their lives to COVID-19. 
21 hours ago
Kathryn Altena

Washington to participate in Great ShakeOut earthquake drill for 10th year

At 10:21 a.m. on Oct. 21 will be the annual Great ShakeOut earthquake and tsunami drill in Washington. Practice how you would drop, cover, and hold on.
21 hours ago
King County Metro...
Nick Bowman

King County reports 97% compliance with worker vaccine mandate

King County reported Tuesday that 97% of its employees have submitted paperwork in compliance with its vaccine mandate; 92% are fully vaccinated. 
21 hours ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Heavy rain, wind from tropical ‘superstorm’ headed to Northwest

A cyclone that began as a tropical superstorm is expected to reach waters off the coast of Washington state on Thursday.
21 hours ago
City Hall Park Seattle...
Nick Bowman

King County Council to forge ahead on bid to acquire troubled City Hall Park

King County Councilmembers voted 7-2 on Tuesday to approve legislation to explore options to assume control over Seattle's City Hall Park.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Tacoma unveils plan to do away with ‘single-family’ zoning label, reimagine housing options