LOCAL NEWS

Tacoma set to take next step toward doing away with single-family zoning

Jul 6, 2021, 11:38 AM
Tacoma, single family zoning...
Tacoma continues its journey toward denser housing. (Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons)
(Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons)

The next phase of Tacoma’s proposal to do away with the single-family zoning label and build denser housing begins Tuesday, with the first of two virtual information sessions.

Key differences between Seattle, Tacoma plans to axe single-family zoning

The proposal — known officially as the Home in Tacoma Project — would do away with the city’s existing single and multi-family zoning labels, and instead use two new categories: low-scale residential and mid-scale residential.

Low-scale residential would group single-family homes together with duplexes, triplexes, mother-in-law units, cottage housing, and in some cases, even smaller apartment buildings and fourplexes. Mid-scale residential would encompass apartment complexes up to four stories tall.

While an early draft of the Home in Tacoma Project estimated that roughly 90% of the city is currently designated solely for single-family residential homes, the latest version says that number is likely closer to 75%. The proposal aims to close the gap between smaller homes and larger multi-family housing by adding denser options near transit routes, central corridors, shopping centers, and “other urban activities.”

By shifting away from the more binary single and multi-family monikers, city leaders hope to focus more on “building form, design and scale,” which would include exceptions for larger apartment complexes in areas where taller buildings are already present.

“The objective is to provide more housing options, support affordability, diversity, walkability and thriving neighborhood businesses while ensuring that new housing complements the overall scale and residential patterns of existing neighborhoods,” the proposal states.

How to ‘sympathetically’ upzone single-family neighborhoods

A Tuesday informational meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. over Zoom, where the purpose and function of the low-scale residential label will be explained in detail. A second meeting on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (also over Zoom) will dive into the details surrounding mid-scale residential housing options.

Then on Tuesday, July 13, the Tacoma City Council will be inviting the public to weigh in on the proposal as it’s currently written.

After that, the council will take public feedback under advisement, and if they decide to move forward, will have a lengthy list of zoning changes, design standard updates, and permitting reviews to move through before a potential phased-in implementation.

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Tacoma set to take next step toward doing away with single-family zoning