R4 Zone Building Height Community Discussion

Recent Activities

  • October 3, 2022 - City Council adopted Ordinance 4031 extending the Moratorium on the Acceptance of Certain Land Use Applications in the R4 Zone West of the Commercial Zone for an additional 6 months. 
  • December 14, 2022 and January 11, 2023 - Planning Commisison public hearing and recommendation to City Council 
  • January 6, 2023 - City Council directed staff to bring back a proposal amending AMC 19.42.050(C) to require less open space and more small units for developments proposing to use the bonus incentives.  


The R4 zone has a standard height limit of 40 feet, which has been in effect since 2008 (Ordinance 2794). Between 1994 and 2008, the height limit was 35 feet (Ordinance 2316). The City’s 2019 development regulation update (Ordinance 3040), did not increase that standard height limit in the R4 zone, but did provide for a 10-ft increase in height over the standard height limit if (option 1) 25% of the total dwelling units contain 600 sq ft or smaller units; or (option 2) a qualifying number of affordable dwelling units is provided in the development. The bonus height provision now effectively allows for five-story development. 

The City’s purpose in enacting the bonus height provisions of AMC 19.42.050 was to incentivize the creation of new dwelling units that are either explicitly “affordable” (option 2), requiring monitoring and enforcement of rental prices of no more than 30% of the household income of households whose annual income is 50% or less of the area median income; or that are 600 sq ft or less (option 1), which have no explicit affordability requirements but are quite small and therefore highly likely to be less expensive than normal-size newly constructed dwelling units and will add more to the supply of housing in the city than larger units. When supply increases, prices decline. 

The City’s purpose in providing for the bonus height incentive in the Commercial, Central Business District, and R4 zones was to allow for the most intense development in the City to occur in areas where services are most available (e.g., access to food, shopping, and transit) and where existing commercial development is most likely to occur, especially in the downtown core and areas between Commercial Ave and “R” Avenue. The City did not limit such new development to only one area, because that would reduce the likelihood that new development would occur. 

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  1. John Coleman

    Director of Planning, Community & Economic Dev.