LOCAL NEWS

Tacoma approves landmark bill doing away with single-family zoning label

Dec 8, 2021, 8:03 AM | Updated: 11:48 am
Tacoma single family zoning...
Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood. (Jacob Rose, Wikimedia Commons)
(Jacob Rose, Wikimedia Commons)

Tacoma City Council voted Tuesday to approve the first phase of its ambitious “Home in Tacoma” plan to reimagine single-family zoning.

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

Tuesday’s vote puts a period on seven months of work, effectively doing away with the “single-family zoning” label, and reclassifying Tacoma’s housing types into new categories. The legislation also shifted the zoning requirements for a handful of areas across major transit corridors.

Tacoma’s new housing categories will now be “low-scale residential” and “mid-scale residential.” Low-scale encompasses detached houses, homes with mother-in-law units, townhouses with up to three units, duplexes, triplexes, small-lot houses, and cottage houses. In “some circumstances,” it would also include fourplexes and “small multi-family” dwellings. Mid-scale would include townhouses and “medium multifamily” housing, defined as apartment complexes topping out at four stories tall.

The final bill also lays out the “qualities” associated with low-scale residential neighborhoods, describing them as having “lower noise levels,” less vehicle traffic, “private and shared open space and yards,” and trees lining sidewalks and streets.

The hope from city leaders is to create more diverse housing options amid Tacoma’s growing population, particularly in the category of what’s known as “middle housing.” Between 2010 and 2019, it’s estimated that the city added three new residents for every one new housing unit.

Economist: Seattle’s single-family zoning ‘doesn’t make any sense’

That’s also driven housing prices up as options have dwindled. According to Home in Tacoma’s website, “about 40% of Tacomans pay more than they can afford in housing costs.”

“The City can’t control the price of housing, but we can encourage developers to offer affordable units in larger projects by offering bonuses, such as allowing more units or reducing parking requirements,” the website reads. “Another action the City can take is to allow Missing Middle Housing types. Since they are more compact, the cost of land and infrastructure is shared across more units. While this doesn’t guarantee an affordable price, it generally brings down costs and creates relatively affordable housing choices.”

In practice, this initial ordinance does not drastically change the existing zoning requirements of Tacoma’s neighborhoods, instead targeting a few smaller changes to start. That includes swapping the low-scale/mid-scale designations of a handful of areas, while actually down-zoning some areas from mid-scale to low-scale.

The plan moving forward is to use the new land use designations as a jumping-off point for further zoning changes and updated design standards. That work will comprise Phase 2, kicking off in “early 2022,” according to the city.

Local News

Bellevue...
KIRO 7 News Staff

77-year-old Bellevue woman stops home intruder in landslide neighborhood

Thieves hit the neighborhood impacted by the Bellevue landslide but didn’t get away with much, thanks to one brave 77-year-old woman.
23 hours ago
national guard...
Stephanie Klein

National Guard arrives to Harborview Medical Center to help with COVID testing

A Seattle hospital official says the arrival of 10 army soldiers on Friday is a huge help.
2 days ago
End restrictions...
Nick Bowman

UW modelers: State might finally be able to end ‘major restrictions’ once omicron wave passes

Modelers at UW's Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation believe that we could be nearing the end stages of major virus-related restrictions. 
2 days ago
Long term care insurance...
Nicole Jennings

Analyst’s advice for Washingtonians who got private long-term care insurance

An Association of Washington Business analyst explains the outlook for private long-term care insurance now that the WA Cares tax will likely be delayed.
2 days ago
COVID tests...
MyNorthwest Staff

Washington households can order at-home rapid COVID tests at no cost

The state Department of Health is going live with its portal to order free at-home COVID tests that ship directly to households.
2 days ago
Bobcat...
MyNorthwest Staff

Bobcat watches from side of road as WSDOT crews plow SR 20 near Colville

WSDOT crews had an unexpected observer while plowing snowy roads near Colville earlier this week, with a bobcat watching them work.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

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, […]
Tacoma approves landmark bill doing away with single-family zoning label