Housing Code Updates

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Vancouver, like many communities, is facing a housing crisis. As the city continues to grow, there is a desire for new types of housing that would allow residents to live more affordably while also maintaining neighborhood livability. However, current city zoning rules prohibit many of these housing options.

The goal of the project is to update City codes to allow for smaller and more affordable types of housing choices that are recommended in the Affordable Housing Task Force report (2016), similar to what is allowed in Clark County and other Washington cities.

The specific goals of this project include:

  • Allowing for the development of diverse housing types to meet changing demographic needs and consumer preferences
  • Expanding market rate, middle income and affordable housing choices
  • Maintaining neighborhood livability with incremental, rather than wholesale, change
  • Providing more opportunities for people to live near where they work and attend school, and reduce costly commutes
  • Facilitating development in areas with full existing public services

What Updates are Being Considered?

To better meet the growing need for housing options in Vancouver, City staff has developed and is seeking community input on the following six recommended updates to local standards and codes:

1.

Develop standards for a new single-family zoning category that would allow subdivisions with single-unit homes on lots smaller than 5,000 square feet. Proposals to apply this category to an area would require a site-specific analysis and rezone process with public notice and hearings, and only larger sites would be eligible.



2.

Develop standards for a new higher density zoning category that would allow denser multi-family housing development. This would also require a site-specific rezone process with public hearings and notice to be implemented.



3.

Develop new standards that could allow clusters of small cottage housing in lower density residential zones. This would require enhanced notice to neighbors to be implemented, and larger projects would require a public hearing.



4.

Update apartment standards to allow shared kitchens and bathrooms in higher density residential zones. This would require enhanced notice.



5.

Update standards to allow Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in existing garages if they meet building and planning codes.



6.

Update building code standards to encourage “visitable” features in new single-unit homes to support aging in place.


If approved and adopted by City Council, most of the above code updates will require developers wanting to use them to go through a site-specific review process with notice given to neighboring properties.

Developers wanting to use the new single-family or higher density zoning district standards would have to go through a rezone process, including public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council.

Tell Us What You Think

Use the engagement tool below to share your feedback with the City about the six recommendations. Your input will help the City develop future code standards and requirements to address community housing needs.

Vancouver, like many communities, is facing a housing crisis. As the city continues to grow, there is a desire for new types of housing that would allow residents to live more affordably while also maintaining neighborhood livability. However, current city zoning rules prohibit many of these housing options.

The goal of the project is to update City codes to allow for smaller and more affordable types of housing choices that are recommended in the Affordable Housing Task Force report (2016), similar to what is allowed in Clark County and other Washington cities.

The specific goals of this project include:

  • Allowing for the development of diverse housing types to meet changing demographic needs and consumer preferences
  • Expanding market rate, middle income and affordable housing choices
  • Maintaining neighborhood livability with incremental, rather than wholesale, change
  • Providing more opportunities for people to live near where they work and attend school, and reduce costly commutes
  • Facilitating development in areas with full existing public services

What Updates are Being Considered?

To better meet the growing need for housing options in Vancouver, City staff has developed and is seeking community input on the following six recommended updates to local standards and codes:

1.

Develop standards for a new single-family zoning category that would allow subdivisions with single-unit homes on lots smaller than 5,000 square feet. Proposals to apply this category to an area would require a site-specific analysis and rezone process with public notice and hearings, and only larger sites would be eligible.



2.

Develop standards for a new higher density zoning category that would allow denser multi-family housing development. This would also require a site-specific rezone process with public hearings and notice to be implemented.



3.

Develop new standards that could allow clusters of small cottage housing in lower density residential zones. This would require enhanced notice to neighbors to be implemented, and larger projects would require a public hearing.



4.

Update apartment standards to allow shared kitchens and bathrooms in higher density residential zones. This would require enhanced notice.



5.

Update standards to allow Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in existing garages if they meet building and planning codes.



6.

Update building code standards to encourage “visitable” features in new single-unit homes to support aging in place.


If approved and adopted by City Council, most of the above code updates will require developers wanting to use them to go through a site-specific review process with notice given to neighboring properties.

Developers wanting to use the new single-family or higher density zoning district standards would have to go through a rezone process, including public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council.

Tell Us What You Think

Use the engagement tool below to share your feedback with the City about the six recommendations. Your input will help the City develop future code standards and requirements to address community housing needs.

  • Please review each of the six recommended changes and respond to the questions. 

    Your input on each recommendation will help the City refine them to address community needs and concerns through development of code standards and requirements, which will happen in the next step of this project. 

    The photos shown are to give you examples of the general housing type being described and the intent for each code update.


    Please review each of the six recommended changes and respond to the questions. 

    Your input on each recommendation will help the City refine them to address community needs and concerns through development of code standards and requirements, which will happen in the next step of this project. 

    The photos shown are to give you examples of the general housing type being described and the intent for each code update.


    Let's get started!
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