The City of Snohomish, in partnership with LDC Inc., is performing a Missing Middle Housing Analysis. This project is funded by a grant program that was authorized by the 2022 supplemental state operating budget. The Department of Commerce developed this grant program to support cities in their efforts of increasing housing types affordable to all economic segments of the community.
What is middle housing, and what will happen in this project?
Middle Housing is generally defined as duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, fiveplexes, sixplexes, townhouses, courtyard apartments, cottage housing, and stacked flats. These are housing types that fall between detached single-family homes and high-density multi-family uses in density, but are considered consistent with a single-family scale and neighborhood character.
Middle Housing is often referred to as “missing middle” because many communities do not have an abundance of these housing types and in fact have made it impossible or very difficult to build these housing types in most areas through their zoning regulations.
The goals of this project are to study the presence of existing middle housing in Snohomish, analyze policies and development regulations that make constructing these housing types difficult, and to provide a range of suggested policy changes to help incentivize the construction of middle housing in appropriate locations. There are no regulatory changes required of this project.
How does this project relate to other planning work?
This round of funding is provided for cities that have 2024 due dates under the Growth Management Act (GMA) for their Comprehensive Plan update. The City of Snohomish is beginning this process.
An important part of the update project is meeting Housing Element requirements of the GMA. In 2021, legislation was adopted into state statute that substantially increased what cities are required to plan for in their Housing Elements. Some of the new requirements relate to providing options for middle housing and addressing displacement and equity in housing, which are both being addressed as part of this Middle Housing project.
In addition, the update process will include implementing new regional policies (VISION 2050) and Countywide Planning Policies, as well as accommodating new growth. The Middle Housing project is an early action that will assist with this process.
During the Middle Housing project, the city and the project team will conduct analysis and begin a community conversation about housing that will also help the city meet the requirements of the periodic Comprehensive Plan update. Learn more about the periodic update here.
Learn more about the periodic update here.
This project has four parts:
- Develop a public engagement plan and conduct a public participation program to obtain feedback on middle housing. This is the development of a community engagement plan so outreach can occur with community-based organizations, representative for-profit and nonprofit residential developers, renters, and owner-occupied households in residential neighborhoods to participate with the project.
- Prepare a racial equity and displacement report. This task begins to identify areas that may be at a higher risk of displacement from market forces that occur with changes to development regulations and capital investments.
- Conduct an analysis and recommend policies to address anti-displacement and disparate impacts in housing. Based on the information gathered in the first two tasks, the project team will be developing a plan to address the potential for displacement or racially disparate impacts.
- Prepare a report summarizing changes to support middle housing including recommended changes to regulations, fee structures, incentives, and permitting procedures. This task will produce a menu of strategies for the City of Snohomish to consider as potential solutions to its housing challenges. There is no requirement to adopt and regulatory changes as part of this project, but this could be an opportunity to look at how the existing code could provide more options for middle housing.