Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tacoma Considers Allowing More Density In Single-Family Neighborhoods

AP Images
Dowtown Tacoma

After a big public outcry, Seattle has scrapped a plan to allow a wider variety of housing types in areas zoned for single family homes.  But the idea is still alive in Tacoma, as the city considers changes to its comprehensive plan.

The proposal from Tacoma's Planning Commission would result in a mixture of lot sizes and home sizes, with some smaller houses such as cottages and detached mother-in-law units allowed.

"This can add a little bit of life to the street, a little bit of density, but also just a broader range of housing choices," said Elliott Barnett, an associate planner with the city of Tacoma.

He says this would allow some of the housing variety that existed before stricter zoning was put in place in the 1950s.

“Really it’s learning from historic neighborhood patterns," he said. "Many neighborhoods in the city were developed prior to zoning and they are characterized by a mix of some smaller lots mixed in and even some different housing types mixed in.”


Tacoma’s plan has drawn criticism but not the intense response that prompted Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to abandon a similar idea. Still, groups such as Historic Tacoma have weighed in with concerns. Marshall McClintock with Historic Tacoma says one of their worries is that older, more affordable homes will get razed and replaced with more expensive housing.

"Cities sometimes shoot themselves in the foot by not paying attention to what’s being torn down," McClintock said.

McClintock says his group wants the city to create a demolition review process so that historic homes throughout the city can be preserved, not just ones in designated historic districts. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.