Kirkland, Wash., an affluent suburb located outside of Seattle, has undertaken multiple efforts to promote the development of more diverse and innovative housing types. Traditionally a single-family community with large homes, the city’s average household size has been decreasing steadily since the 1980s. In response to changing housing needs, the city passed an “Innovative Housing Demonstration Project Ordinance” in 2002. This ordinance allowed for the development of two cottage-style housing developments, including the 16-home Danielson Grove. The two developments were followed by a period of public evaluation, which found wide enthusiasm for this new home style.

In 2007, the city declared the demonstration project a success. Shortly thereafter, the city passed a Cottage Housing ordinance permitting cottage-style housing in all residential zones. The ordinance allows for subdivision developments of up to 24 cottage housing units and requires that one to two of these units be affordable to households earning between 82 and 100 percent area median income.

Most of the city’s cottages are designed as one or one-and-a-half story detached homes with the second story built into the pitch of the roof. Cottage subdivisions must include at least 400 square feet of open space per unit. Each cottage is typically built on a 3,000 square foot lot and is restricted to a maximum of 1,000 square feet of gross floor area. While these homes are often built with a traditional single-family design, they are much smaller than the typical single-family home (which, according to the 2010 Census, had a median size of 2,169 square feet).

Kirkland’s Cottage Housing Ordinance is primarily for the promotion of cottages, but also allows for other compact single-family homes, as well as duplexes and triplexes, in all single-family zones. Compact single-family homes are allowed up to 1,500 square feet, and duplexes and triplexes are limited to 1,200 square feet. Parking requirements have also been reduced for these housing types to one space per unit, unless the unit exceeds 1,000 square feet in gross floor area, in which case two spaces are required. Developers are also permitted to cluster parking on one section of the site.

Aside from the two demonstration projects permitted in 2002 and continued community support, however, there has yet to be large developer interest in cottage housing development in the city.

For More Info:

Arthur Sullivan, ARCH
Email: [email protected]