As the City of Lacey (City) works to support housing options that meet the needs of the community, Lacey residents may also expect to see more middle housing units available in the coming years. After the passage of HB 1110 through the state legislature in 2023, the City is setting out to follow guidelines within the statute that mandate cities like Lacey create a comprehensive plan that supports growth of middle housing.

Additional middle housing units might help alleviate the overall housing shortage and may provide residents with a wider swath of affordable living options. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

Middle Housing in Lacey: An Option To Address the Housing Shortage

Jennifer Adams, housing coordinator for the City of Lacey, says middle housing lands between single family homes and apartment complexes in terms of scale, density, and design. Common types of middle housing include duplexes, triplexes, cottage housing, townhomes, and courtyard apartments.

“The goal with middle housing is to provide diverse housing options that tend to cater to various living needs and income levels, while also fitting into existing neighborhoods that may or may not be currently zoned for single-family housing,” explains Adams.

Because middle housing options like duplexes or townhomes contain multiple units on one piece of land, this type of housing can be a more sustainable and efficient use of space, allowing residents to live with a reduced footprint, and cultivate community with neighbors. Many middle housing units can blend well into established neighborhoods, according to Adams. These types of units may also allow residents to live closer to city centers or near employment options.

Additional middle housing units might also help alleviate the overall housing shortage and may provide residents with a wider range of affordable living options. Potential middle housing plans from the City may be beneficial for residents who are interested in building middle housing units on their own property, or developers, who may soon be able to produce more housing types or use smaller pieces of land in a new way.

multi-home building on a street corner
To fully comply with HB 1110, the City of Lacey will need to develop an ordinance that addresses middle housing by December 2025. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

Lacey Must Make a Middle Housing Plan To Align With New State Law

To fully comply with HB 1110, the City needs to develop an ordinance that addresses middle housing by December 2025. Adams says next steps for the City include updating zoning regulations, like the unit per lot allowance for middle housing and adopting stipulations that encourage the construction of affordable middle housing units. The City will also need to determine the specific types of middle housing that may work best within city limits.

“The City is working hard to meet all required deadlines so we can adhere to our own adopted ordinance that will best reflect our unique community needs,” explains Adams.

And as the City solidifies plans for middle housing, Adams says other housing types, like detached, single-family housing will continue, aligning with the present development standards. The City is also preparing to invite public input, working with residents to form a vision for what middle housing could look like in Lacey.

“City staff is working diligently to launch a public engagement plan and provide middle housing resources as well as updates throughout this initiative,” says Adams. “Staff will rely upon the engagement process, which will include stakeholders such as local developers, contractors and landowners, in addition to the general public, to obtain and consider feedback for the areas of the bill that allow middle housing policy to be ‘fine-tuned’ at the local level.”

white pieces of paper that say middle housing and have black and white drawings of houses on them
Common middle housing types include duplexes, triplexes, cottage housing, townhomes and courtyard apartments. Photo credit: Molly Walsh

The City of Lacey Has Already Made Progress Toward Addressing Middle Housing

In recent years, Lacey has taken a more proactive approach to addressing different types of housing in the City, including the creation of the Affordable Housing Strategy in 2018 and the Housing Action Plan in 2021. As a result, Lacey has already taken some steps toward compliance with HB 1110.

“Some great news for Lacey lies in the fact that our community is ahead of the curve with middle housing allowances that already meet some of the new requirements,” explains Adams. “This means we don’t have far to go to comply with new legislation for middle housing.”

One of these steps is an update to the Lacey Municipal Code, which consolidates a lower density zone with a higher density zone that allows six units per acre. Through this, there is potential for additional Accessory Dwelling Units, duplexes, and triplexes in residential portions of Lacey.

Adams says creating a comprehensive plan for middle housing may lead to different long-term benefits in terms of land use, affordability, diversity, and how resources are used in the creation of new housing. Developing these plans will take input from different community stakeholders in order to create a vision for middle housing that matches the needs of Lacey residents.

“The success of middle housing policies depends on effective urban planning, community engagement, and the ability to balance the interests of various stakeholders,” says Adams. “Community-specific factors, such as local housing demand, demographics, and economic conditions, will also influence the outcomes over time.”

To learn more about middle housing plans for the City, visit the City of Lacey website.


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