Growth Management Hearings Board invalidates City of Olympia’s Missing Middle ordinance.

By Tadeu Velloso

The Growth Management Hearings Board recently released a Final Decision and Order invalidating the City of Olympia’s “missing middle” regulations. 

Olympia’s “missing middle” ordinance allows more multifamily housing—duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and courtyard apartments—to be built in low-density neighborhoods.   This plan is referred to as the “missing middle” because, in theory, it provides housing options on the spectrum between single-family homes and large apartment buildings. 

In January, a group called Olympians for Smart Development & Livable Neighborhoods filed a petition for review with the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board. In March, it ruled the city did not thoroughly consider potential environmental impacts as required under the State Environmental Policy Act, or SEPA.

In its July 10th opinion, the Board found the city failed to comply with the Growth Management Act by not anticipating impacts on the environment, public facilities and services. 

The Board was also persuaded by the arguments that the “missing middle” changes fail to implement Olympia’s comprehensive plan, namely the call to preserve “neighborhood character.” 

The city plans on seeking reconsideration of the Board’s decision.

You can read the decision here.

Stacey Tuesta