Multi Family (MF) Infill Form Base (Zoning) Code

UPDATE 10/27/2020
On 10/26/2020 Council held a workshop with the consultants, Placemakers LLC, to discuss issues related to the proposed Multi-Family Infill Form Based Code.  Issues discussed included maximum building heights, parking requirements, setbacks, design review, views, lot coverage, and affordable housing.  You can listen to the recording of the workshop here.  The next step is for Placemakers to begin drafting the code.

On 10/13/2020 we held a community meeting via ZOOM to receive input into the proposed MF Infill Zoning Code.  Here is a link to the recording of the presentation (Audio only).  Here is a link to the powerpoint presentation.
Task_III_MF Form Based Assessment_Page_17

Hazel and Susan presented and reviewed this assessment document.  We had break out rooms where attendees discussed how multi-family infill could be accomplished for the City of Langley.  More specifically attendees were asked three questions about the proposed code - What are your hopes? What are your concerns? What are you unsure about?

Here are links to the break out rooms (Audio only) - hopeful and concerned.

In the break-out rooms people were asked to add their comments on a google doc.  Here is a link to the google doc.
This google doc is still live and you can continue to add your comments until October 27th.  Please do not edit other comments.  These comments will help guide the proposed zoning code.

Poster_Langley_MF_FBC_ThumbThe first community meeting to discuss this project is being held on Tuesday October 13 at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.  The meeting will be held on ZOOM. Join the meeting now or find full zoom information here.

The City of Langley adopted its Comprehensive Plan in March 2018.  The Plan includes over 40 goals and policies that support to differing degrees the integration of multi-family into single family neighborhoods and support the use of innovative planning strategies to achieve the same. 

In May 2020, the City of Langley received confirmation of grant funding from the Department of Commerce as part of the Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill (E2SHB) 1923.  The State allocated $5 million in grant assistance to encourage cities planning under the Growth Management Act (GMA) to adopt actions to increase residential capacity.

The City proposes to prepare and adopt a Form Based Code for Multi-Family Infill (FBC-MF).  The grant requires the code be amended to permit triplexes by right.  Duplexes are currently permitted in all residential zone districts. 

The type of housing envisioned for the code is the missing middle that is sensitive to Langley’s small-town context.  Since the Comprehensive Plan as adopted the City’s Planning Advisory Board (PAB) has been discussing how we can reduce barriers to encourage the development of more housing, ideally more affordable housing.

Form-based codes (FBC) tend to provide greater predictability about the visual aspects of development, in particular how well it fits in with the existing context of the community.  Infill multi-family housing units are proposed to be permitted by right in the new form-based code that would apply to two single-family zone districts (RS5000 and RS7200) and the Residential Mixed (RM) zone district to enable infill multi-family housing.  

The City hired Placemakers through a RFP process to assist us with this project.

Most of the residentially zoned land is in single family zone districts. Zoning map.  The existing housing inventory is made up of approximately 72% single family and 28% duplex and multi-family units.  Recent years have seen a small decrease in the ratio of multi-family to single-family units. Smaller household size, a growing aging population and increasing development costs support the need to increase the number of multi-family units in the City.

There is approximately 1 acre of undeveloped lands in the City Residential Mixed (RM) for multi-family housing.  The RM zoning code is a suburban standard and not conducive to good design particularly on smaller lots. For example, the setbacks are the same between single family and multi-family zone districts.  Also, the existing design guidelines are generic and don’t provide clear guidance for developers and do not provide community members with a clear vision of what they might expect to see developed in the City. 

There is approximately 4 acres of un- or underdeveloped land in the RS5000 zone district.  The zone district is located within ½ mile of the downtown core and therefore very walkable.  On lots where there are older smaller homes there are opportunities for infill development.

There is approximately 110 acres of un- or underdevelopment land in the RS7200 zone district.  Approximately 35 acres is not serviced by sewer.  The Municipal Code restricts development on unsewered parcels to one dwelling unit and one accessory dwelling unit. No subdivision is permitted unless the parcels are served by sewer.  Currently approximately 65 % of the City is not serviced by sewer.  The City has embarked on multi-faceted infrastructure project that includes extending sewer to portions of the City that are not serviced.  Most of this area is in the RS7200 zone district. 

The large lot zone district RS15000 is not included.  Eliminating the requirement for owners and developers to rezone their property to the RM zone would reduce a significant hurdle as well as costs for a developer to develop infill multi-family dwelling units.  As the City has not adopted an EIS an applicant would still need to undergo a SEPA determination unless the development meets the exemptions in WAC 197-11-800.