Higher Lot Coverage to Boost Density

A proposal in Snohomish County, Washington could raise the lot coverage limits in medium density residential zones to allow for more usable square footage.

1 minute read

February 23, 2021, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Under revised rules, Snohomish County could allow increased lot coverage and more flexible design in parts of the county's unincorporated urban growth areas. As reported by Stephen Fesler in The Urbanist, "county planners principally hope that the code amendments will solve lot coverage mismatches between zoning types, allow more flexible building and site design, and help development proposals reasonably achieve allowed zoning densities."

Lot coverage dictates how much of a lot can be covered by structures and has a major impact on how much usable square footage a lot can hold. Although sometimes associated with stormwater management and drainage, county planner Janet Wright addressed those concerns, stating in a briefing to the County Council "our drainage codes address mitigating stormwater runoff from…impervious surface areas and our code requires that projects implement low-impact development strategies where feasible." Wright also explained that "the current LDMR lot coverage maximum is unique and inexplicably lower than lower-density residential zones" and that increasing lot coverage "could bring more harmony of development patterns."

While the return on investment will ultimately drive site utilization, proponents of higher lot coverage predict that higher limits will "ensure that more projects fully use allowed zoning densities." The proposal is headed to a public hearing on March 3rd.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 in The Urbanist

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Close-up of electric stove range with front burners red-hot.

California Cities Suspend Natural Gas Bans Following Court Ruling

A Ninth Circuit court ruling forced Berkeley to reverse its ban on natural gas in new buildings, prompting other cities to suspend their own efforts to promote all-electric buildings.

May 28, 2024 - East Bay Times

View of small town of Craig, Colorado with flat-topped mountain in background.

Colorado Cities Seek to Address Housing Crisis With Modular Housing, STR Rules

Cities are incentivizing more affordable housing types and limiting permits for short-term rentals in an effort to keep housing affordable for residents.

22 minutes ago - Reasons to Be Cheerful

Panorama Close up of pedestrian traffic light signal against blue sky and bright clouds.

Traffic Safety Efforts Chug Ahead — Too Slowly for Some

Around the United States, traffic deaths are growing or plateauing, yet efforts to make roads safer still face political opposition.

1 hour ago - KFF Health News

Aerial view of downtown Auburn, Indiana on a clear, sunny day.

Study: Indiana Regional Planning Project Pays Off

The Regional Cities Initiative funded economic development projects and capacity building to help local agencies collaborate more effectively to promote growth.

2 hours ago - Ball State University

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.