2019 Unified Development Code Update

HousingThe Yelm Planning Commission encourages public input on proposed updates to the Unified Development Code, Title 18 of the Yelm Municipal Code.

The Commission has been tasked to review the Unified Development Code development regulations to encourage more affordable housing within the City and to update the code in response to recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rulings on wireless communication facilities.

To comply with FCC rulings, the code has proposed an update to include application timing requirements for wireless communication facility applications, requires a franchise agreement to locate within City Right-of-way, and provides design standards for co-located antennas and equipment.

The goal of the update regarding affordable housing is to be more consistent with the Yelm Comprehensive Plan’s objective to encourage the availability of affordable housing to all economic segments of the population of the state, promote a variety of residential densities and housing types, and encourage preservation of existing housing stock.

The Planning Commission first defined affordable housing in context to this review:

There is a national affordable housing crisis, and the City of Yelm is not excluded.  In order to address and respond to affordable housing needs within the City, a full housing needs assessment will need to be completed.  In order to implement programs for requiring low income housing (exclusionary zoning), and take advantage of state funding programs such as tax incentives and impact fee waivers, a more detailed and in-depth study needs to occur to determine current market analysis, vacancy rates, median income, and Yelm’s specific needs. In absence of this, the committee chose not to include specific low income or extremely low income housing in their review.

For the 2019 update, the Commission looked at new housing construction and sales within Yelm City limits. They found that most new housing is single family homes with large square footage within subdivisions, while a mix of housing sizes, townhomes, and multi-family housing are missing.

There are just over 400 apartment units in the City of Yelm, with 197 units subsidized or considered low-income housing. In most cases, there are waiting lists for apartment rentals within the City.

The Commission discussed possible barriers for development of housing mix, and multi-family units. Many of the barriers are outside of local control, such as financing, and material and labor costs.

While the current code does provide opportunity to construct townhomes, or mixed housing varieties, these options are not taken advantage of. The Commission then looked to the code to suggest options to encourage and incentivize this type of housing to come to Yelm.

 Options explored were to:

  • Increase minimum density requirements.
  • Limit maximum lot coverage.
  • Provide density bonuses for housing variety.
  • Relax development standards for accessory dwelling units (ADU).
  • Remove height limitation for Multi-family buildings.
  • Change minimum height for accessory buildings.
  • Reduce minimum parking requirements for multi-family dwellings.
  • Possible results to public infrastructure with density increase.

The Planning Commission presented this draft at its regular meeting 4 p.m., Monday, October 21, 2019 at Yelm City Hall. An Open House is scheduled for 5– 7 p.m., Monday, November 4, 2019 at the Yelm Community Center, and a public hearing scheduled for 4:00 p.m., Monday, November 18, 2019.

Comments will be received up to and at the public hearing. Written comments may be submitted to tamim@yelmwa.gov, or mailed to City of Yelm Community Development Department, 106 2nd Street SE, Yelm, WA  98597

Following public input, the Commission’s final draft updates will be brought forward to City Council with the recommendation of adoption. City Council will vote to approve or deny these proposals at a regular Council meeting. All meetings are open to the public and are streamed live on the City of Yelm YouTube channel.

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