Citywide Zoning Reform Approved in Everett

Few cities are accomplishing such a swift and sweeping overhaul of its land use regulations as Everett, Washington, which just wrapped up its second major planning initiative in as many years on its way to launching a third.

2 minute read

December 17, 2020, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Suburban Seattle

SEASTOCK / Shutterstock

The city council of Everett, Washington approved the "Rethink Zoning" ordinance in November, ushering in a suit of zoning changes designed to simplify the land use code and encourage urban infill development under one Unified Development Code.

Stephen Fesler reports on the zoning changes and previews the next big reform effort already underway in the city—the "Rethink Housing Action Plan Process," which would pave the way for additional affordable housing development in the city.

"This all comes on the heels of Metro Everett, which led to significant downtown zoning changes adopted in late 2018," according to Fesler. "That zoning process incorporated many form-based zoning principles into the land use code and permitted more highrise development in the city center, topping out at 25 stories."

Chief among the changes included in Rethink Zoning, according to Fesler:

The number of zoning districts was trimmed from 25 to 15. Overlay zones were also reduced from 11 to just five. Single-family zones were the only zoning classifications to escape changes for now, which include Suburban Residential (R-S), Single Family Detached Low Density (R-1), Single Family Detached Medium Density (R-2), and Single Family Detached Medium Density (R2-A) zones, though an earlier concept had envisioned trimming single-family zones down to two with more flexibility.

For the Rethink Housing Action Plan, Fesler reports that the city is estimating the need for an additional 9,267 housing units in the next 15 years to support low-income residents making less than 50 percent of the area media income. "Another 3,529 housing units will need to be created that serve people in rent-restricted housing and market-rate rental housing bands below 80% AMI. Beyond that, Everett thinks that 9,981 housing units will be needed for people with higher incomes looking for homeownership and market-rate rental housing," according to Fesler.

In launching the Rethink Housing Action Plan, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin listed three initiatives to be included in the process, one regarding public engagement, another to prepare for transit oriented development, and a third to provide supportive services to the city's unhoused residents.

As is always the case with Fesler's reportage, a lot more detail in included in the source article. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020 in The Urbanist

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Yellow on black "Expect Delays" traffic sign

A Serious Critique of Congestion Costs and Induced Vehicle Travel Impacts

Some highway advocates continue to claim that roadway expansions are justified to reduce traffic congestion. That's not what the research shows. It's time to stop obsessing over congestion and instead strive for efficient accessibility.

March 14, 2023 - Todd Litman

Empty parking garage at night with yellow lines marking spots and fluorescent lighting

Rethinking the Role of Parking in the American City

In cities big and small, the tide is turning against sprawling parking lots, car-centric development, and minimum parking mandates.

March 16, 2023 - The New York Times

Electric bus in Austin, Texas

Austin’s Project Connect Transit Plan Drastically Reduced

The details of drastic reductions to the proposed building program for Austin’s Project Connect long-range transit plan are now open for public comment.

1 hour ago - KUT

White SEPTA bus driving through snow in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

‘Bus Revolution’ Revised in Philadelphia

The bus system redesign underway in Philadelphia changed direction after riders and local politicians complained about an initial draft plan.

2 hours ago - WHYY

Aerial view of small town of Beacon, New York in the Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley City Bans Fossil Fuels in New Construction

Beacon will require all-electric appliances in new buildings starting next year.

3 hours ago - Food & Water Watch

Planner II

City of Greenville

Planner I

City of Greenville

Rural Projects Coordinator (RARE AmeriCorps Member)

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.