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Affordable Housing


On December 1, 2015 the City Council adopted Amended Ordinance Number 28336, approving proposed amendments to the Tacoma Municipal Code concerning affordable and infill housing. This action adopts a range of affordable and infill housing code changes based on concepts initially recommended by the Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Group. Key changes include:

  • Lot size flexibilities and Small Lot design standards
  • Creation of a Residential Infill Pilot Program for certain housing types
  • Creation of Affordable Housing Incentives and Bonuses, and Requirements for Residential Upzones

Amended Ordinance Number 28336 can be found here.

Posted below are materials reviewed by the Planning Commission (PC).  They are also posted on the 2015 Annual Amendment web page, under "2015-08 Affordable Housing Planning Work Program."

2015-08 PC Draft Code (July 1, 2015)
2015-08 PC Review Packet (July 1, 2015)
2015-08 PC Review Packet (June 17, 2015)
2015-08 PC Presentation (May 6, 2015)
2015-08 PC Review Packet (May 6, 2015)
2015-08 PC Review Packet (March 4, 2015) 
2015-08 PC Review Packet (October 1, 2014)
2015-08 PC Presentation (October 1, 2014) 

What is being proposed?

Changes proposed include the following:

Residential infill/affordable building proposals

  • Detached Accessory Dwelling Units in single-family zones
  • Small lots updates
  • Duplex, townhouse and/or great houses in single-family areas
  • Cottage housing
  • Permit process and timeline enhancements (such as permit ready house designs)

Affordable housing incentives and/or inclusionary approaches:

  • Create and Affordable Housing Incentives code section
  • Integrate affordable housing into existing bonus programs
  • Update Planned Residential Districts code to provide an affordable housing bonus
  • Require the inclusion of some affordable units for approval of residential upzones


This application is the third and final step in a multi-year, multi-departmental effort, spearheaded by the Council-appointed Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Group (AHPAG). In 2010, the AHPAG released its Policy Recommendations to the City Council, which recommends a range of actions to meet affordable housing goals in Tacoma. In 2012 the Council divided the recommendations into three groups:
  1. Referred to the Neighborhood & Housing Committee (NHC) for additional policy development and discussion
  2. Forwarded to the City Manager for evaluation and implementation
  3. Referred to the Planning Commission for the development of affordable housing regulations
In regards to the Planning Commission tasks, on May 15, 2012 the City Council adopted Resolution Number 38489, which referred specific recommendations to the Commission for the development of policies and regulations. The resolution also divided the Commission’s review items into four tasks:
  1. Comprehensive Plan Policy
  2. Incentive, Bonus and Inclusionary Programs
  3. Rezones
  4. Affordable Housing Infill Development recommendations

Progress to Date

2012 - Planning Phase 1:

  • Affordable Housing "Principles and Acknowledgements" added to the Comprehensive Plan Housing Element
  • Subarea plans/EIS efforts, SEPA and Short Plat thresholds increased to streamline and prepare for development

2014 - Planning Phase 2

  • Small multifamily units (mini-flats): Parking requirements reduced
  • Access Dwelling Units (ADUs): Additional flexibility and reduced requirements (not including detached ADUs in single-family areas)
  • Small lots: Additional flexibility to promote infill
  • Multifamily development: Parking requirements clarified and reduced
This project will follow the Annual Amendments timeline. 


Affordable Housing Work Program Phase 3 - October 1, 2014 (PDF)
Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Group Recommendations Report - December, 2010
APHAG Memo - October 13, 2011
2014 Affordable Housing Policy Phase 2 Packet as adopted by council
The Ins and the Outs: A Policy Guide to Inclusionary and Bonus Housing Programs in Washington - The Housing Partnership, 2007 (PDF)
City of Portland, OR - Infill Design


Many communities have implemented or explored similar policy approaches. There is a well-developed body of best practices and analysis. For more information, visit the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Housing Innovations Program web

Staff Contact

Elliott Barnett
Associate Planner
(253) 591-5389