11th Tee Townhomes – Drone Aerial Courtesy of Lisa Medchill Photography

How can I stay involved?

  • View past and present City Council and Planning Commission agenda packet material in the left-hand column under Meetings and Agendas.
  • Sign up to receive alerts in the right-hand column.
  • Stay Tuned… a Community Engagement Survey is being created to obtain feedback from the public.

What is Middle Housing?

Middle housing is a term for homes that are at a middle scale between detached single-family houses and large multifamily complexes. Examples include: duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, fiveplexes, sixplexes, courtyard apartments, cottage clusters, and townhomes. These types are typically “house-scale”; that is, the buildings are about the same size and height as detached houses.

What is HB 1110?

During the 2023-24 legislative session, HB 1110 (2023) was adopted to implement middle housing across the state. HB 1110 requires cities of certain sizes and locations to allow multiple dwelling units per lot in a middle housing type of form.

What does HB 1110 require?

Middle housing requirements apply to cities in each of the three population tiers established by HB 1110. Fircrest is classified as a Tier 3 city (a city with population under 25,000 that are contiguous with an urban growth area (UGA) that includes the largest city in a county with a population over 275,000. This requires all residentially-zoned areas to allow 2 dwelling units per lot, unless zoning permits higher densities.

The City of Fircrest is required to update its Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations to address middle housing by June 30, 2025. If the City chooses not to implement any new updates to its regulations, the Department of Commerce’s Middle Housing Model Ordinance will automatically take effect. Therefore, to maintain local control and encourage public participation in the process, the City was awarded a $50,000 grant to hire a consultant to create its own middle housing ordinance. Put another way, the City is customizing its approach rather than relying on Commerce’s blanket model ordinance. The consultant’s work will be Fircrest-specific and customized to recognize the City’s charm and small town feel with a focus on gentle density, such as the promotion of Accessory Dwelling Units.

The aim of the Middle Housing update is to do the minimum to comply with the state’s new housing laws, and not fundamentally change the character of Fircrest by respecting its place as the Jewel of Pierce County.

The law allows for some flexibility and exceptions in delaying implementation when existing infrastructure like road, sewer, and water is not adequately available to achieve adequate level-of-service and concurrency. Another exception is when private communities have established covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R’s) that only allow single-family homes and these CC&R’s have been in effect prior to July 2023. The City and its consultant are reviewing these options and how they apply to Fircrest.

What is the Implementation Timeline?

What does HB 1110 NOT do?

As a Tier 3 City, Fircrest is NOT required to implement middle housing within a 1/4 mile of a transit stop, nor is it required that the new middle housing be sold as affordable housing.

The law does NOT require a property owner to build a second unit. It makes the option available for those who wish to do so.

The law does NOT require a property owner to build more than two units, such as an apartment building, on a lot that has originally been zoned for a single-family home.

How can I read more about the new state housing laws?

HB 1110 – Session Law, Washington State Legislature

Major Changes to Washington’s Housing Laws by Steve Butler, MSRC

Washington’s 2023 Middle Housing Bill, Explained by Dan Bertolet, Sightline Institute