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Housing Strategy Plan

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An implementation measure from Kenmore’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan was to, “Adopt a Housing Strategy Plan that outlines action steps and priorities.” In April of 2016, the City Council directed the Planning Commission to develop this plan, focused on affordable housing and outlining actions that could be taken over the coming years to implement the housing goals, objectives and policies of the Comprehensive Plan. The Commission, with staff assistance from A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH), completed the draft strategy plan and presented it to the City Council at a joint meeting on January 23, 2017. After review, the City Council adopted the plan on March 20, 2017. The strategies are described in the table below, along with prioritization for consideration (Tiers 1-3).  Inclusion of actions in the Housing Strategy Plan does not imply that specific strategies should be adopted. It is possible that later, when considered in more detail, the City may decide not to pursue a listed strategy.

The four top tier (Tier 1) land use strategies that showed the most promise for addressing affordable housing issues in Kenmore were:

  • Techniques to preserve existing affordable housing; e.g., density transfers from affordable properties to areas where additional density has been proposed, and consideration of a manufactured housing community overlay.

Status: Most of the manufactured housing communities project has been completed. Final implementation to address potential future upzoning of the four communities north of SR-522 after 10 years is expected in 2021.

  • Review of accessory dwelling unit (ADU) regulations. The review should include evaluating current code provisions, the permitting process, fees, and utility requirements. Other actions could include a clemency program to legalize existing ADUs, community outreach, and targeted direct assistance.

Status: Planning Commission recommendations have been presented to the City Council.  Council action to adopt zoning code amendments is expected in 2020.

  • Flexible re-use of tax-exempt or publicly-owned sites through a special process to increase housing supply and enable more diverse forms of housing if linked to providing some affordable housing.

Status:  This project has been assigned to the Planning Commission in 2020.

  • Expanding density bonuses, adding density transfers, and other methods with mixed-use and multi-family developments; e.g., mandatory programs with increased development capacity and layering local incentives to create greater affordability (multifamily tax exemptions with density incentives, for example).

Status: Density incentives to achieve affordable housing in the Community Business zone were adopted in 2018. The Multifamily Tax Exemption was expanded to the Transit-Oriented Development District in 2019. Density transfers were approved as part of the manufactured housing communities project in 2019.


The City has undertaken other actions related to the Housing Strategy Plan since the Plan’s adoption, including:

  • Approved of Mary’s Place homeless shelter at the former King County Sheriff’s Office site (2017)
  • Continued funding of ARCH’s Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing projects (ongoing)
  • Developed code amendments for indoor and outdoor temporary homeless shelters (2018)
  • Adopted school impact fees with exceptions for low-income housing projects (2018)
  • Provided information to residents on King County’s Housing Repair Program (ongoing)
  • Adopted an ordinance requiring a minimum 90-day notification whenever the periodic or monthly housing costs to be charged a tenant are to increase by ten (10) percent or more during the preceding twelve (12) month period (2019)

  • Adopted legislation to authorize a sales and use tax for affordable housing as authorized by State law (2019)

  • Assigned review of “missing middle” housing options such as duplexes, triplexes and townhouses in single-family neighborhoods to the Planning Commission (2020)



 Housing Element Policy



1. Infill/Increased Capacity/ Housing Diversity. 
 a. Consider some form of overlay zoning for senior housing linked to providing some affordable housing.  H-1.3.1   Tier 1

 b. Allow flexible reuse of tax-exempt or publicly-owned sites through a special process to increase housing supply and enable more diverse forms of housing, if linked to providing some affordable housing.

i. Possible opportunity at Park-and-Ride.

 H-1.3.1  Tier 1
 c. Consider provisions, including design guidelines, to allow some flexibility in single family neighborhoods for small scale housing (e.g. cottages, duplexes).  H-1.3.2  Tier 2

 d. Modify land use and building codes to maximize economical wood frame construction:

i. Allow 6-story wood frame construction. 

ii. Increase zoning code height limits.



Tier 3

 e. Provide a flexible development process for preserving environmentally constrained property that accommodates alternative building types.



 Tier 2
 f. For multifamily housing, consider code amendments to limit project sizes based on height, setbacks, and/or FAR, not units per acre.  H-1.3.2  Tier 2 

 g. Reduce number of projects subject to SEPA:

i. Expand projects eligible for categorical exemptions

ii. Complete planned action EIS for targeted neighborhoods (planning areas).



Tier 2 

 h. Consider code amendments to facilitate rental property preservation: 

 i. Rental inspection program.

ii. Consider provisions to limit conversion of rental housing to condominiums.

H-3.1  Tier 3 
 2. Support for Special Needs Housing.
 a. Ensure development regulations address housing accessibility. H-1.2.2  Tier 2 
 b. Consider ordinance to prohibit Housing Choice Voucher discrimination.  H-3.3.4 Tier 3 
 c. Consider revisions to land use incentive program to link voucher units to affordable units.  H-3.2.1 Tier 2 
 3. Affordable Housing.

 a. Consider expanding density bonuses, adding density transfers, and other methods with mixed-use and multi-family developments:

 i. Review and consider expanding density bonuses, including mandatory programs with increased development capacity in mixed-use and multi-family zones.

ii. Encourage layering local incentives to create greater affordability (e.g. MFTE w/ density incentives).




Tier 1 

 b. Consider strategies for preserving existing affordable housing: 

 i. Density transfers from affordable properties to areas where additional density has been proposed.

ii. Manufactured housing community overlay (e.g. Bothell).

H-3.1   Tier 1

 c. Accessory dwelling units: 

 i. Review current code provisions. 

ii. Review permitting process and fees / utility requirements.

iii. Clemency program to legalize existing ADUs.



Tier 1 
 d. Expedite permitting for projects with affordable housing.   H-3.2.1.d  Tier 3


 1. Direct Assistance.

 a. Provide local funding assistance for affordable housing:

 i. Continue or expand use of city general funds.

ii. Dedicated local revenue source(s) for affordable housing

  • Property Tax Levy / Portion of revenue resulting from new growth (e.g. construction sales tax).
  •  New source authorized by state legislation (see regional/state initiatives).
  • Local Voluntary Employers Fund.
H-3.2.5   Tier 1

 b. Explore ways to utilize existing and/or new funding programs to address local conditions.

 i. Target preservation and rehabilitation of existing manufactured housing and multifamily housing (including small properties).

ii. Funding to assist low- and moderate-income residents if displaced in existing manufactured or multifamily housing.

iii. Homeownership programs:

  • Downpayment assistance program for first-time homeowners.
  • Support for affordable ownership units such as land trusts, sweat equity (Habitat).

iv. Revolving loan fund to support 4% tax credits.

v. A revolving land loan program (REDI).

vi. Support development of emergency and permanent housing with services for homeless individuals and households.

vii. Fund infrastructure that supports affordable housing development (e.g. streetscape/park) 

viii. Funding for home visits, meals.




 Tier 1


Tier 1 


Tier 2


Tier 2 


Tier 2 


Tier 2 


Tier 1 


Tier 2 


Tier 2 

 c. Review permit/impact fees for affordable housing.

 i. Reduce development permit fees for projects with affordable housing

 H-3.2.1  Tier 3
 d. Utilize non-cash subsidies, such as credit enhancement. H-3.2.1   Tier 3
 2. Indirect Assistance
 a. Support applications by housing developers for capital and operating assistance of local affordable housing projects.  H-3.2.1.c Tier 1 

 b. Information/referral/outreach.

 i. Information to seniors regarding housing options; e.g., ARCH website, other efforts

ii. Accessory dwelling units: community education and outreach. 

iii. Promote use of weatherization programs.

v. Promote Universal Design awareness.




Tier 2 

 c. Encourage residential energy and water efficiency as addressed in Utilities Element.

 i. Support water conservation programs of the NUD.

ii. Promote use of water conservation features in design or rehab of residential structures.

iii. Promote higher density and infill developments that are located near major transportation and transit links

iv. Encourage the rehabilitation of existing buildings as an alternative to demolition, where appropriate, to encourage the conservation of energy, building materials, and historic preservation.







 Tier 3
 d. Increase transportation access between special needs housing and community facilities and programs: sidewalks, ramps, etc.  H-2.2.2  Tier 3
 e. Partner with employers to provide affordable housing for their employees.  H-3.2.1  Tier 3


 a. Promote housing repair/rehabilitation assistance (e.g., from King County) for homeowners and landlords.

 i. Participate in regional Universal Design rehab program. 



Tier 2 

 b. Support various housing-related consumer protection programs. 

 i. Resources to tenants facing eviction due to temporary financial hardships (e.g. housing stabilization program).

ii. Foreclosure counseling/ assistance.

iii. Financial counseling/ first-time buyer classes.





Tier 1

Tier 3

 c. Collaborate with other local governments (directly and through PSRC and other organizations) on regional housing strategies, including programs serving homeless. H-3.2.7  Tier 1 
 d. Work with other cities in evaluating county, state, and federal legislation and funding that address local housing efforts H-3.2.8   Tier 1
 e. Transportation services--work with providers.  H-2.2.2  Tier 2 


 1. General Monitoring.
 a. Monitor land supply to accommodate growth, including affordable housing, multifamily housing, and special needs housing.  H-1.3.1  

 b. Monitor the range of affordable housing types and locations, how created, etc.

 i. Monitor impacts of local incentive programs (e.g. creation of affordable housing in TOD District Overlay zone, ADUs, fee waivers).

ii. Inventory existing rent-restricted assisted housing and affordable market rate housing.

iii. Review land use/building/fire code provisions and recommend amendments as needed to reduce development costs (without sacrificing adequate review, environmental quality, etc.)





 2. Monitoring of Specific Housing Issues.
 a. Review code provisions of single-room occupancy or mini-suites in multifamily/mixeduse zones. H-1.3.2   
 b. Amend building codes to allow prefabricated and new building technologies (e.g. cross-laminated timber).  H-3.3.3  
 c. Consider regulations to limit short-term rentals.    
 d. Review and consider provisions for shared housing, including rooming/ boarding houses.  H-2.1.1.a   
 e. Monitor the benefits of energy and water efficiency programs. H-1.2.4   
 f. Participate in or cooperate with Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing study to ensure that no city programs, regulations, or actions result in housing discrimination.    
 g. Monitor accessibility between special needs housing and community facilities and programs.  H-2.2.2  
 3. Monitoring of Previous City Efforts.

 a. Evaluate parking standards for multifamily housing (note—City allows parking studies to modify parking requirement): 

 i. Evaluate parking standards for affordable units created through land use standards.


 b. Housing options and services enabling seniors to stay in their homes or neighborhoods:

i. Permit group homes with supportive services. 

 ii. Review codes to ensure reasonable accommodation for adult family homes. 

iii. Monitor adult family home and group home licenses and capacity.

c. Monitor use of housing repair/rehab assistance and Home Repair Program for low/moderate income homeowners (see support for countywide program).   H-3.1.1  
 d. Review provisions for reducing impact fees for projects with affordable housing.  H-3.2.4  

 e. Surplus land available for affordable housing:

i. Inventory of city-owned and other public property real property for potential suitability.

ii. Prioritize affordable housing integrated into proposals for development of publicly-owned properties.