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Affordable Housing Planning Resources

Duplex/triplex/courtyard apartment

Authorize at least one duplex, triplex, or courtyard apartment on each parcel in one or more zoning districts that permit single-family residences unless a city documents a specific infrastructure of physical constraint that would make this requirement unfeasible for a particular parcel.

Draft Codes

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Other Code Examples

MRSC has several resources available:


Unless noted, courtyard apartments were not specifically noted in the city’s code. However, many jurisdictions defined townhomes. HB 2343 amended the provisions in RCW 36.70A.600(1)(c),the list of options now includes townhouses, quadplex, sixplex, and stacked flats. Grantees are encouraged to consider these housing types as well.

Cities that allow for duplexes or triplexes with no design standards:

  • Bremerton allows duplexes (and townhouses) in their Low Density Residential zone if the underlying destiny is met and the properties are within 500 feet of a commercial district or center (20.60.060(f)). Duplexes and townhomes are also allowed in the High Density Residential Zone. Triplexes are considered multifamily development.
  • Port Angeles allows duplexes by right in most residential zones without design requirements that are unique to duplexes. Triplexes and courtyard apartments are not defined or mentioned. However, there is a cottage housing overlay zone (17.16) and a zone for residential trailer parks (17.13).

Cities that allow for duplexes or triplexes with "light" design standards:

  • Everett: Duplexes allowed in most residential zones and two other zones. Development standards for duplexes are found in Zoning Code Sec. 19.07.010, including requirements for doors and windows to face the street, requirements for entries, and other select requirements based on location and features. Triplexes and fourplexes are considered multi-family development and must comply with Sec. 19.15 – Multi-family Development Standards, but are allowed in the three higher density residential zones. Only some zones require lot sizes larger than the minimum for triplexes; no lot size requirement changes for duplexes compared to single-family development. The city does allow cottage housing in two residential zones. 
  • Mount Vernon: Duplexes are allowed in all single family detached residential districts provided they meet the requirements of 17.15.030(E) (minimal design standards, but no more than 20% of density can be duplexes) or if they are within the part of the city subject to the city’s design standards, they must comply with the Design Review chapter (17.70) provided there are no other duplexes constructed on lots that are abutting or adjacent to the lot upon which a duplex is desired. Those properties subject to design review must meet the requirements in the Mount Vernon Design Standards Handbook, which was adopted by reference into the code. Triplexes are considered multifamily development and are not allowed in single family detached residential districts.
  • Olympia allows duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes (and other housing types) in many zones and addresses design by requiring design review (18.100.060). Duplexes are allowed in all but one residential district, triplexes and fourplexes are allowed in two (out of 14) residential districts. Although duplexes are allowed in many residential districts, they have different (larger) minimum lot sizes and lot widths. Cottage housing is allowed in all but three (out of 14) residential districts. All duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, townhouses, and cottage housing) require design review (18.100.060). Design Review includes reasonable and not complex requirements involving neighborhood scale and character, building orientation and entries, building articulation, windows, garage design, and materials and color.

Cities that allow for duplexes or triplexes with "moderate" or more involved design standards:

  • Eatonville: Duplexes are only allowed by right in multifamily residential districts and the mixed use district. Design requirements for duplexes are found in 19.04.030 (including one requirement for duplexes on corner lots), but duplexes must also follow design requirements of detached single family homes in 19.04.020 (garage placement and design, vehicular access and driveways, building design, architectural variety, exterior materials, roof design), but exceptions are allowed. Triplexes and townhomes are considered multifamily development and are only allowed in multifamily and some commercial districts. 
  • Puyallup: Duplex and triplexes are allowed within most RS single-family residential and RM multi-family residential zones and must meet design standards (Chapter 20.26 – Design Review Standards and Procedures, specifically 20.26.100 Duplex and triplex design standards). Duplexes and triplexes must be on lots that are of a minimum size, but not always bigger than the minimum lot size for the zone (i.e., making sure it is just big enough for minimum buildings. Requirements include façade modulation, treatment of entrances, average setbacks, roof pitches and lengths, front forward garage requirements, and orientation to the street. Design review process requires elevations, landscape plans, context and site plans, and a written narrative. Cottage housing is allowed in many residential districts and is governed by Chapter 20.21; courtyards do have criteria when they are present, but there is no defined courtyard housing.
  • Snoqualmie allows duplexes, triplexes, quads, and attached townhouses (all considered multifamily) in half of its residential districts (not in the single-family residential and residential constrained districts) and some mixed use districts. Design standards for the R-2 (Two- and Three-Family District) are located in 17.15.055 and include Site Design and Building Orientation, Building Design, Open Space, Landscaping, and Circulation, and Service Areas. Regulations for other residential districts are located in 17.15.
  • Tacoma: Duplexes and triplexes allowed in some residential zones (R-3, R-4-L, R-4, and R-5 - higher density residential districts) by right. Additional requirements per conditional use permit allow duplexes and triplexes in other zones. Duplexes and triplexes must have larger lots when allowed. Section 13.06.100(E) (Single, Two and Three-Family Dwelling Minimum Design Standards) apply to all two and three-family dwellings. These include requirements for duplexes on corner lots, garage design standards, entries, and articulation of the façade, and other requirements. Duplexes are also referred to as two-family dwellings and triplexes as three-family dwellings. Cottage housing is allowed by conditional use permit in most residential districts; there is no defined courtyard housing.
  • Wenatchee: Duplexes allowed in most residential zones and some mixed use districts. Duplexes (10.47.100) must follow design standards including off-street parking, access, architectural design (Section E of Residential Design Guidelines), and minimum usable open space. Triplexes not expressly defined, and therefore considered as multifamily development with associated requirements (10.47.150) and Residential Design Standards. Courtyard housing, allowed in some residential districts and some mixed use districts, must meet Residential Design Standards and 10.47.120.


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