Chapter 19.18
Affordable Housing Demonstration Program

19.18.010    Purpose.

19.18.020    Applicability.

19.18.030    Zoning and regulatory standards.

19.18.040    Criteria for Affordable Housing Demonstration Projects.

19.18.050    Affordable housing requirements.

19.18.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to:

1. Facilitate, for a specified trial period, the construction of affordable housing by applicants who can demonstrate an ability to finance, manage, and monitor affordable housing units to assure permanent affordability, in accordance with the directives of the Growth Management Act, Housing Policy Act, and the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

2. Provide flexibility in certain development regulations in exchange for provision of affordable housing.

3. Promote thoughtful layout of buildings, parking areas, and circulation, service, landscaping and amenity elements that enhance Burien’s visual character, promote compatibility between developments and uses, and enhance the function of developments.

4. Implement an Innovative, Affordable Housing Demonstration Program as described in this Chapter until 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2024.

5. Evaluate the results of the pilot projects to better understand potential changes needed to development regulations to support Burien housing needs. [Ord. 798 § 1, 2022; Ord. 718 § 1, 2019]

19.18.020 Applicability.

The Affordable Housing Demonstration Program applies to development of affordable housing units, by applicants meeting the qualifications within this Chapter, and shall be allowed in all zones that allow residential uses.

The City shall use a competitive selection process to determine which proposals will be allowed to apply for a Type 1 permit as an affordable housing demonstration project. The City may approve up to five affordable housing demonstration projects, with projects chosen to demonstrate a variety of housing types, to evaluate Burien’s existing development regulations, to use sites in ways that support innovative and affordable housing, and to provide housing affordable to households in the 0 – 30% and 30 – 50% AMI for King County.

The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to City Council and the Council shall determine which proposals will be allowed to submit a Type 1 application under this chapter using the following criteria:

1. Consistency with the intent of the affordable housing goals of providing affordable housing choices, specifically demonstrating those housing styles identified in this chapter and compatibility with surrounding development.

2. Affordable housing proposals must be at least 1,500 feet from any other affordable housing proposals under this chapter. [Ord. 718 § 1, 2019]

19.18.030 Zoning and regulatory standards.

1. Project applicants who wish to participate in this program must demonstrate compliance with both the standards described in BMC 19.18.040 and the affordable housing requirements described in BMC 19.18.050.

2. In addition to complying with the approval criteria in Chapter 19.65 BMC, the applicant must demonstrate that:

A. The environmental impacts of the proposed development are consistent with City, State and Federal regulations.

B. The proposal is compatible with the character of surrounding development.

C. The proposal provides elements that contribute to a sense of community within the development by including elements such as front entry porches, common open space, and common buildings or common spaces within buildings.

D. Any proposed modifications to requirements of the Burien Zoning Code, other than those specifically identified in this chapter, are important to the success of the proposal as an affordable housing project.

3. In order to meet the goals of the affordable housing demonstration program, there will be flexibility with regard to certain normally applicable regulations and requirements. Standards listed in this chapter will apply to affordable housing demonstration projects and will prevail if they conflict with underlying zoning regulations. All other regulations and requirements of the City of Burien will continue to apply, except that applicants may propose additional modifications to the Burien Zoning Code, as provided for in this section.

A. Affordable housing demonstration projects are permitted in all zones where residential uses are allowed as provided for in Chapter 19.15 BMC.

B. In all zones where residential uses are allowed, the underlying development standards shall apply except for those standards identified in BMC 19.18.040.

C. The vehicular access and roadway standards of Chapter 12.05 BMC shall apply. The variance provisions of 2016 Road Design and Construction standards or their successor may be used to allow further flexibility to the vehicular access and roadway standards requirements for the proposed project.

D. The project shall be required to meet any minimum density requirements under Chapter 19.15 BMC.

E. Impact fees under Burien Municipal Code for the proposed project shall be assessed at the rates for multifamily dwelling units, as identified in Chapter 19.35 BMC.

F. Exceptions to the following development standards may be granted at the discretion of the Director if the project can demonstrate that the proposed design meets the intent of the underlying zone:

i. Front setbacks along arterial streets.

ii. Transition standards.

4. The City’s approval of an affordable housing project does not constitute approval of a subdivision, a short plat, or a binding site plan. [Ord. 718 § 1, 2019]

19.18.040 Criteria for Affordable Housing Demonstration Projects.

The following standards apply to projects developed under these provisions:

Housing Types

• Cottages

• Single-family

• Duplexes or triplexes designed to look like single-family as part of a development that includes at least one other housing type (the other housing type may be traditional single-family)

• Tiny houses

• Congregate housing

• Modular units

• Multi-family and mixed use structures

• Combinations of the above types

• Existing dwelling units may be incorporated into the development


Citywide where residential uses are allowed. Projects must be located a minimum distance of 1,500 feet from another affordable housing proposal. Multi-story congregate housing units not designed within duplexes or triplexes shall be located within multi-family or mixed use zones.

Number of Development Projects

Up to 5 projects citywide, with no more than two projects demonstrating the same housing type. Required affordability levels are identified in BMC 19.18.050.

Access Requirements

Determine flexibility for road widths, and turn-around requirements with approval from Public Works and Fire Departments

Neighborhood Meeting

Two Neighborhood meetings with City staff attendance is required.

The first neighborhood meeting shall occur at the initial concept development phase. The second neighborhood meeting shall occur during the land use review process.

Both meetings shall include a minimum notification requirement of property owners and residents located within 1,000 feet from the project site.

Parking Requirement

To be determined with submittal of a parking demand study in compliance with BMC 19.20.030.

[Ord. 718 § 1, 2019]

19.18.050 Affordable housing requirements.

Projects developed under this chapter must comply with the following requirements:

Income limit.

1. The average cost of units in each project will be affordable to households earning no more than 50% King County AMI.

2. In at least one project, the cost of all units will be affordable to households earning no more than 30% King County AMI.

3. “Affordable” means that the total housing costs, including basic utilities as determined by the City, must not exceed 30 percent of the household income.

4. Duration. Units must serve only income-eligible households for a minimum period of 50 years from the date of the certificate of occupancy.

5. Affordability agreement.

A. Prior to building permit issuance, an affordable housing agreement in a form approved by the Director and City Attorney must be recorded with the King County Recorder’s office as a covenant running with the land and binding on the applicant, assigns, heirs and successors.

B. The agreement must address the level and duration of affordability, income qualifications, reporting, monitoring, and any other topics related to the provision of the affordable housing units.

C. The City may, at its sole discretion, establish a monitoring fee for the affordable units to cover the costs to the City to review and process documents to maintain compliance with income and affordable restrictions of the agreement.

6. Project applicant qualifications. Applicants must meet the following requirements to qualify under this Chapter:

A. The applicant can demonstrate experience in providing affordable housing. Notwithstanding this requirement, an applicant who can demonstrate experience in providing housing and a mission statement of its intent to use that experience toward achieving the goal of providing permanently affordable housing may be deemed to have met this requirement.

B. The applicant can demonstrate the ability to employ a mechanism to retain all of the units as affordable for a minimum 50-year period for applicable income levels.

C. The applicant can demonstrate an ability and commitment to submit an annual report to the city documenting the status of all residential units. [Ord. 718 § 1, 2019]