Multi-family Zoning: Achieving Intended Densities

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Picture of townhomes at Aurora Court in Bellingham

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PROJECT SUMMARY

The City Council recently added the Residential Multi (RM) project to the annual list of Comprehensive Plan amendments. This project is focused on changes to the land use code that will allow all RM zones to achieve intended densities, as many of these areas have been significantly underdeveloped with densities much less than what’s intended in the Comprehensive Plan. The project has the potential to implement many goals of the Comprehensive Plan, including

We want your input!

  • Learn more by watching the videos below
  • Tell us what you think by taking the survey
  • Ask us a question!


PROJECT SUMMARY

The City Council recently added the Residential Multi (RM) project to the annual list of Comprehensive Plan amendments. This project is focused on changes to the land use code that will allow all RM zones to achieve intended densities, as many of these areas have been significantly underdeveloped with densities much less than what’s intended in the Comprehensive Plan. The project has the potential to implement many goals of the Comprehensive Plan, including those related to housing options, climate action and compact growth.

PURPOSE

  • Implement the Comprehensive Plan's intent for RM zones
  • Address the City's housing, climate action, environmental and land use goals
  • Expand housing variety for people of all ages, incomes and abilities
  • Provide an opportunity for more people to live in walkable/bikeable/transit-friendly neighborhoods

SCOPE

More detailed analysis is needed to identify the steps required to fulfill the project purpose; however, the following four components have been identified to date:

  1. A simplified ranged zoning system for all RM zones. This system would assign the adopted Comprehensive Plan density ranges of high, medium or low to each RM zone and allow development at any density within the assigned range.
  2. Projects in RM zones that meet location-efficient criteria would be eligible for a density bonus. Specifically, a property would be able to develop within the density range of the next highest density category (e.g. a “medium” density property would jump to the “high” density category).
  3. All Infill Housing Toolkit forms (small and smaller house, cottage, duplex, triplex, shared court, garden court, and townhouse) would be allowed in all RM zones. Small and smaller houses, cottages and duplexes are the only forms currently allowed in RM duplex zones.
  4. Certain (or all) RM zones would potentially include minimum densities.

Explore the tools below to learn more and provide feedback!

For more information on this project, visit cob.org/rmproject.

  • Virtual Open House

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    15 Oct 2020

    On October 8, 2020, planning staff hosted a virtual open house for the RM project. The open house included a brief presentation, followed by an opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide comments. A recording of the presentation, as well as a summary of key questions/comments and staff responses, are below.

    Summary of key questions/comments received during the open house and staff responses (PDF).


  • Project Overview

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    22 Jul 2020

    Watch the video to learn more about the project purpose.


  • Project Components

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    22 Jul 2020

    Watch the video to learn more about the four project components, which include changes to the land use code and neighborhood plans.

    Project Components Summary (pdf)

  • Density Explained

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    22 Jul 2020

    Watch the video to learn more about density.

    More Density Examples (pdf)