Permit history shows missing intermediate housing gap

Permit history shows missing intermediate housing gap

Kevin Freibott, associate planner, no phone number available

Thursday, September 8, 2022 at 4:58 p.m.

Permit history shows missing intermediate housing gap

Source: City of Spokane permit data, April 2008 through April 2021.

Notes: The number of slots indicated indicates the number units have been completed, not the number of structures. Buildings of 5 units or more can contain any number of dwellings starting from 5.

For many decades, the housing construction environment was not designed to provide a variety of options in every neighborhood. Barriers exist at many levels of government and in finance as well. The City of Spokane Planning and Economic Development Departments continue to provide an increased inventory of housing options and opportunities.

The city explored ways to reduce barriers to housing variety and choice in city code through the Shaping Spokane Housing work. Beginning with the Housing Action Plan and continuing through various code and policy updates, this ongoing effort aims to create opportunity and choice in our future land use and zoning decisions. .

Much of this discussion has focused on the concept of the “missing middle” in housing. Clearly, the missing middle represents housing types that bridge the gap between the single-family home, which is common in city neighborhoods, and taller apartment buildings like the ones you might see in downtown Spokane. Duplexes, triplexes, quadruplexes and townhouses were popular in the first half of the 20th century, but have since become more difficult to develop, largely due to changes in housing regulations and policies.

Shaping Spokane Housing is a toolbox that we put together to make it easier to build missing townhouses and intermediate homes on a residential scale. These types of houses have a double advantage. They can fit well into neighborhoods with mostly detached single-family homes while providing housing options for young families, older couples looking to downsize, and others who need or want a smaller yard. or less living space to maintain. As a side benefit, the “missing middle” housing types tend to be cheaper than the other alternatives.

Data going back to 2008 shows that the City has permitted very few of these types of housing compared to single family homes and apartment buildings. The table at the top of the page shows the number of housing units completed in the City each year. As you can see from the chart, the City has allowed many detached single-family homes (in green) and many larger apartment buildings (in blue), but so few “missing mid-range” units that they are disappearing almost in comparison.

The lack of production of missing intermediate housing illustrates where a new or updated policy can increase our housing capacity and result in the creation of new housing that meets the diverse needs of our community. This is exactly why the City is working to build more choice and opportunity into our policies and codes. To learn more about the Shaping Spokane Housing program and the various code and policy amendments being considered, please visit our webpage at

We want your feedback!
We would like to know your opinion on how to provide more equitable and flexible housing in the city.

The public is invited to a public hearing for the Opportunity and Choice for All Interim Zoning Ordinance and One-Year Pilot Program on Monday, September 12 at the Spokane City Council Legislative Meeting. You can find meeting details and instructions for public comment on the Council Agenda webpage.

You can email questions and comments, or request community outreach events, by emailing [email protected]

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