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Draft code changes for accessory structures available for review

What do trellises, ADA ramps, air conditioning units and garages have in common? They’re all what’s called an “accessory structure” — or a smaller structure that’s an “accessory” to a house or residence. The City regulates their size, location and mass to minimize impacts on neighbors.

Through the Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update project, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is revising the City’s Zoning Code for accessory structures. It focuses on detached residential structures such as garages, storage sheds, home offices and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as well as decks, trellises, ADA ramps and mechanical equipment. The new regulations will streamline regulations by emphasizing form (setbacks, height and bulk) over function (how the accessory structure is used) while continuing to address impacts on neighboring properties. 

The public is invited to review the Discussion Draft for the Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update.

The proposed amendments in the Discussion Draft will:

  • Expand the exemption that allows small one-story garages in side and rear setbacks to all detached covered accessory structures.
  • Set a building height maximum of 20 feet for all detached covered structures.
  • Require all detached covered accessory structures over 15 feet in height to meet revised compatibility standards.

The project focuses on detached accessory structures in residential zones, but code amendments are proposed within all the base zones as well as the accessory dwelling unit chapter in the Zoning Code.

The Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update Discussion Draft contains the staff proposal for code amendments and corresponding commentary.

A two-page summary provides a brief overview of the project and code changes, as well as a timeline for the review and hearing process.

Learn more at an open house

Project staff will hold an open house on July 9 from 5:30 - 8 p.m. to answer questions about the Discussion Draft. The open house will be in the Development Services Building, 1900 SW 4th Ave, Room 2500B (2nd floor).

Staff will also be making short presentations at neighborhood district coalition offices; check the Meetings and Events calendar for more information. 

Public comments on the Discussion Draft will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, July 24, 2015.

Next Steps

Staff will consider public comments on the Discussion Draft when developing the Proposed Draft. The Proposed Draft will be presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) later in the summer, with an anticipated public hearing date in September. After hearing public testimony, the PSC will forward a recommendation to City Council for consideration and additional public review before final adoption.

Please check the Meetings and Events calendar for details on upcoming events.