Kirkland, WA Affordable Housing
Type: Municipal Zoning Code
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Chapter 112 – AFFORDABLE HOUSING INCENTIVES – MULTIFAMILY
112.05 User Guide
This chapter offers dimensional standard flexibility and density and economic incentives to encourage construction of affordable housing units in commercial zones, high density residential zones, medium density zones and office zones.
If you are interested in proposing affordable housing units in commercial zones, high density residential zones, medium density zones or office zones, or you wish to participate in the City’s decision on a project including affordable housing units, you should read this chapter.
112.10 Voluntary Provisions
The provisions of this chapter are available, at the sole discretion of the property owner as incentives to encourage the construction of multifamily affordable housing units. There is a limited stock of land within the City zoned and available for residential development and there is a demonstrated need in the City for housing which is affordable to persons of low and moderate income. Therefore, this chapter provides development incentives in exchange for the public benefit of providing affordable housing units in commercial zones, high density residential zones, medium density zones and office zones.
112.15 Applicable Use Zones
The affordable housing incentives described in this chapter may be used in commercial, high density residential, medium density and office zones that allow dwelling units.
112.20 Defined Affordable Housing Incentives
1. Approval Process – The City will process an application for the affordable housing incentives identified in this section through the same required review process as if no affordable housing units were provided.
2. Density Bonus
- a. Bonus Units. In use zones where the number of dwelling units allowed on the subject property is determined by dividing the lot size by the required minimum lot area per unit, two additional units (‘bonus units’) may be constructed for each affordable housing unit provided. (See Plate 32 for example of bonus unit calculations.)
- b. Bonus FAR. In use zones where the density allowed on the subject property is expressed as a maximum floor area ratio (FAR), two additional square feet of floor area (’bonus FAR’) may be constructed for each square foot of floor area constructed in affordable housing units. (See Plate 32 for example of bonus FAR calculations.)
- c. Alternative Calculation of Density Bonus. Except in those zones that have an established affordable housing requirement, an applicant may propose alternative affordability levels for the affordable housing units. The ratio of bonus units or bonus floor area per affordable housing unit for alternative affordability levels will be as follows:
- Affordability Level
- Density Bonus to Affordable Ratio
- Renter Occupied Housing
- 60% of median income 1.33 to 1
- 70% of median income 1 to 1
- Owner Occupied Housing
- 80% of median income 1.6 to 1
- 60% of median income 2.67 to 1
- Depending on the level of affordability provided, the affordable housing units may not be eligible for the impact fee waivers described in subsections (4)(a) and (4)(b) of this section.
- d. Maximum Bonuses. The maximum number of bonus units or amount of bonus FAR achieved through a defined affordable housing incentive shall be 25 percent of the number of units or floor area allowed based on the underlying zone of the subject property.
- e. Density Bonus for Assisted Living Facilities. The affordable housing density bonus may be used for assisted living facilities to the extent that the bonus for affordable housing may not exceed 25 percent of the base density of the underlying zone of the subject property.
3. Dimensional Standards Modification – The following requirements of the Kirkland Zoning Code may be modified through the procedures outlined in this subsection, to the extent necessary to accommodate the bonus units on-site. These modifications may not be used to accommodate the units resulting from the base density or FAR calculation.
- a. Maximum Lot Coverage. The maximum lot coverage may be increased by up to five percentage points over the maximum lot coverage permitted by the underlying use zone. Maximum lot coverage may not be modified through this provision on properties with streams, wetlands, minor lakes or their buffers.
- b. Parking Requirement. The required parking may be reduced to 1.0 space per affordable housing unit. No additional guest parking is required for affordable housing units. If parking is reduced through this provision, the owner of the affordable housing unit shall sign a covenant, in a form acceptable to the City Attorney, restricting the occupants of each affordable housing unit to a maximum of one automobile.
- c. Structure Height. Maximum height for structures containing affordable housing units may be increased by up to six feet for those portions of the structure(s) that are at least 20 feet from all property lines. Maximum structure height may not be modified through this provision for any portion of a structure that is adjoining a low density zone.
- d. Required Yards. Structures containing affordable housing units may encroach up to five feet into any required yard except that in no case shall a remaining required yard be less than five feet.
- e. Common Recreational Space. Common recreational open space per unit, when required, may be reduced by 50 square feet per affordable housing unit.
4. Permit Fee Calculation
- a. Applicants proposing affordable housing units may request an exemption from payment of road impact fees for the affordable housing units as established by KMC 27.04.050.
- b. Applicants proposing affordable housing units may request an exemption from payment of park impact fees for the affordable housing units as established by KMC 27.06.050.
- c. Applicants proposing affordable housing units are eligible for exemption from various planning, building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical permit fees and sewer capital facility charges for the bonus units as established in KMC 5.74.070 and 15.12.063 and KMC Title 21.
5. Property Tax Exemption – A property providing affordable housing units may be eligible for a property tax exemption as established in Chapter 5.88 KMC.
112.25 Additional Affordable Housing Incentives (Non-Defined)
1. Approval Process for Additional Affordable Housing Incentives (Non-Defined) – An applicant may request that the City grant affordable housing incentives in addition to or in place of the defined affordable housing incentives allowed in KZC 112.20 due to specific site conditions. Such a request shall be reviewed and decided upon using Process IIA, described in Chapter 150 KZC. If the development, use, or activity requires approval through Process IIB or Process III, the entire proposal will be decided upon using that other process.
2. Density Bonus – An applicant may propose more than two bonus units or two additional square feet of floor area for every affordable housing unit or square foot of affordable housing unit, as applicable. However, in no event may a project receive a bonus that would result in a total number of units or floor area that exceeds 50 percent of the number of units or floor area allowed based on the underlying zone of the subject property.
3. Dimensional Standards Modification – An applicant may request further modification from the dimensional standards listed in KZC 112.20(3). Approval of any further modification of the dimensional standards will be based on the applicant’s demonstration that the subject property cannot reasonably achieve the permitted density, including the bonus units.
4. Criteria for Approving Additional Affordable Housing Incentives (Non-defined) – The City may approve one or more of the additional affordable housing incentives listed in KZC 112.25(2) or 112.25(3), in addition to or in place of the defined affordable housing incentives, if one or more of the following requirements are met:
- a. The additional incentive is necessary to provide sufficient economic incentive to the applicant to offset the cost of providing the affordable housing units.
- b. The additional incentive is necessary to reasonably achieve the permitted density, including the bonus units.
- c. The additional incentive is necessary to achieve a greater number of affordable housing units than the defined affordable housing incentives would prescribe or a greater level of affordability than is defined by the term affordable housing unit.
- In making its decision on additional incentives, the City will consider the value of any property tax exemptions available to the project from the City as established in Chapter 5.88 KMC, as well as other fee waivers or reductions as established in the Kirkland Municipal Code.
112.30 Alternative Compliance
1. Approval Process for Alternative Compliance – As an alternative to providing some or all of the affordable housing units on the subject property, the Planning Director may approve a request for alternative compliance. Alternative compliance may include providing affordable housing units at another location within the City of Kirkland or such other means proposed by the applicant and approved at the discretion of the Planning Director, consistent with the following criteria for alternative compliance.
2. Criteria for Alternative Compliance – The City may approve a request for alternative compliance if both of the following requirements are met:
- a. The applicant demonstrates that the proposed alternative compliance method achieves an affordable housing benefit to the City equal to or better than providing the affordable housing units on-site.
- b. The affordable housing units provided through the alternative compliance will be based on providing the same type of ownership of units as would have been provided on-site.
3. Requirements for Off-Site Alternative Compliance – Off-site affordable housing units are subject to the following requirements:
- a. The off-site location chosen for the affordable housing units shall not lead to an undue concentration of affordable housing either at the off-site location or in any particular area of the City.
- b. Any building permits required for off-site affordable housing units shall be submitted prior to submittal of building permits for the subject property. Certificates of occupancy for off-site affordable housing units shall be issued prior to issuance of the final certificate of occupancy for the subject property.
112.35 Affordability Provisions
1. Approval of Affordable Housing Units – Prior to the issuance of any permit(s), the City shall review and approve the location and unit mix of the affordable housing units consistent with the following standards:
- a. The affordable housing units shall be intermingled with all other dwelling units in the development.
- b. The type of ownership of the affordable housing units shall be the same as the type of ownership for the rest of the housing units in the development.
- c. The affordable housing units shall consist of a range of number of bedrooms that are comparable to units in the overall development.
- d. The size of the affordable housing units, if smaller than the other units with the same number of bedrooms in the development, must be approved by the Planning Director. In no case shall the affordable housing units be more than 10 percent smaller than the comparable dwelling units in the development, based on number of bedrooms, or less than 600 square feet for a one bedroom unit, 800 square feet for a two bedroom unit, or 1,000 square feet for a three bedroom unit, whichever is less.
- e. The affordable housing units shall be available for occupancy in a time frame comparable to the availability of the rest of the dwelling units in the development.
- f. The exterior design of the affordable housing units must be compatible and comparable with the rest of the dwelling units in the development.
- g. The interior finish and quality of construction of the affordable housing units shall at a minimum be comparable to entry level rental or ownership housing in the City of Kirkland.
2. Affordability Agreement – Prior to issuing a certificate of occupancy, an agreement in a form acceptable to the City Attorney that addresses price restrictions, homebuyer or tenant qualifications, long-term affordability, and any other applicable topics of the affordable housing units shall be recorded with King County Department of Records and Elections. This agreement shall be a covenant running with the land and shall be binding on the assigns, heirs and successors of the applicant.
Affordable housing units that are provided under this section shall remain as affordable housing for a minimum of 30 years from the date of initial owner occupancy for ownership affordable housing units and for the life of the project for rental affordable housing units.
112.40 Regulatory Review and Evaluation
At least every two years, the Planning Department shall submit a report that tracks the use of these regulations to the Houghton Community Council, Planning Commission and City Council.