The “Missing Middle” efforts that started in 2016 to expand the variety and density of housing in Olympia have been the subject of legal battles that some hoped would have ended today, at the end of a 30-day appeal period.
Instead, yesterday, a citizens' group filed another appeal. The battle continues.
Here’s a brief (and partial) chronology:
Judy Bardin, a member of OSD&LN, confirmed they had taken their appeal to the Court of Appeals.
“How is it that community members like us don’t have the right to challenge bad land-use decisions and that we can be denied standing after winning rulings and paying our way forward with effort and money for so long?,” Bardin asked in a press release today, adding, “It is unfortunate that the city decided to spend time and money on legal maneuvers rather than doing what the GMHB initially recommended, which is to simply fix the flaws in the Missing Middle ordinance."
Missing Middle housing
Olympia’s Ordinance 7160, approved by the city council in 2018, allowed changes to developmental regulations, including regulations for building accessory dwelling units, cottage housing, courtyard apartment, and duplexes. The ordinance was in force for approximately four months before it was withdrawn due to legal appeals.
The ordinance allowed for the missing middle housing program, which according to the city’s website, 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.
The 2019 Board decision made the ordinance ineffective.
The 2019 state laws
Two acts of the legislature enabled Olympia and other cities to take another look at some aspects of Ordinance 7160. These were:
Following the state legislation, Community Planning and Development Director Leonard Bauer said Olympia adopted housing code amendments in 2021.
He said the new ordinance allows the building of duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes in specific community areas.
It also includes some provisions around accessory dwelling units, including:
According to Bauer, the Housing Options ordinance was able to re-adopt some aspects of the missing middle regulation that had been declared invalid by the Board.
Because the missing middle case is again on appeal, Bauer told The JOLT today, “the missing middle ordinance is held in abeyance and those other aspects of that ordinance are not in effect, only those that were adopted by the housing options.”
3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here