Chapter 15.540


15.540.010    Purpose and applicability.

15.540.020    Single-family design standards.

15.540.030    Duplex design standards.

15.540.040    Accessory dwelling unit design standards (ADU).

15.540.050    Cottage housing design standards.

15.540.060    Townhouse design standards.

15.540.010 Purpose and applicability.

A.    Purpose. This section provides supplemental direction for the design of new residential developments consistent with the goals and policies of the comprehensive plan.

B.    Applicability. Each section herein provides standards that apply to a particular type of housing. Like all other standards in this division, the provisions herein supplement other relevant standards set forth in ECC, most notably the zoning provisions and dimensional standards set forth in Chapter 15.320 ECC. Townhouses are also subject to all other provisions in this division unless otherwise noted. [Ord. 4807 § 58, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.540.020 Single-family design standards.

A.    Purpose.

1.    To enhance the character of the street;

2.    To maintain “eyes on the street” for safety to pedestrians and to create a more welcoming and interesting streetscape;

3.    To deemphasize garages and driveways as major visual elements along the street; and

4.    To provide usable yard space for residents.

B.    Entries and Facade Transparency.

1.    Clear and obvious pedestrian access between the sidewalk and the building entry is required for new dwelling units (the driveway may be used to help meet this requirement);

2.    All new houses shall provide a covered entry with a minimum size of three feet by three feet. Covered entries may project up to six feet into the front yard per Chapter 15.320 ECC; and

3.    At least eight percent of the facade (all vertical surfaces facing the street) shall include transparent windows or doors.

Figure 15.540.020(B). Single-family design requirements.

C.    Garage Placement and Design.

1.    Where lots abut an alley, the garage or off-street parking area is encouraged to take access from the alley;

2.    The garage doors shall occupy no more than 50 percent of the ground-level facade facing the street. Departure: garage doors may exceed this limit up to a maximum of 65 percent of the ground level facade facing the street provided at least two of the following design details are utilized. For front-loaded lots where the garage faces the street and the garage is even with the facade of the house or less than five feet behind the front facade of the house, at least one of the following design details shall be utilized:

a.    A decorative trellis over the entire garage;

b.    A window or windows are placed above the garage on a second story or attic space under roofline;

c.    A balcony that extends out over the garage and includes columns;

d.    Utilizing all single vehicle car doors as an alternative to wider garage doors suitable for two-car garages;

e.    Decorative windows on the garage door;

f.    Decorative details on the garage door. Standard squares on a garage door will not qualify as a decorative detail;

g.    A garage door color (other than white) that matches or complements the color of the house; and/or

h.    Other design techniques that meet the intent, as determined by the director; and

Figure 15.540.020(C). Garage design detail examples.

3.    The minimum garage setback is at least 22 feet from the sidewalk edge.

D.    Driveway Standards. Where a new driveway off of a public street is permitted, the following standards apply:

1.    No more than one driveway per dwelling unit;

2.    Driveways for individual lots 40 feet or wider may be up to 24 feet in width; and

3.    Driveways for individual lots less than 40 feet wide may be up to 12 feet in width. Tandem parking configurations may be used to accommodate two-car garages for single-family and duplex structures pursuant to ECC 15.550.040(A).

The width of properties with nonparallel side lot lines shall be determined at the plane of the garage door when determining conformance with the standards above.

Also see Section 3, Street Standards, of the city’s public works development standards for additional driveway standards.

E.    Minimum Usable Open Space. All new single-family residences shall provide a contiguous open space equivalent to 10 percent of the lot size (excluding area within an adjacent alley or public right-of-way). Such open space shall not be located within the front yard. The required open space shall feature a minimum dimension of 15 feet on all sides. For example, a 6,000-square-foot lot would require a contiguous open space of at least 600 square feet, or 20 feet by 30 feet in area. Driveways shall not count in the calculations for usable open space. Single-family additions shall not create or increase any nonconformity with this standard.

Figure 15.540.020. Examples of how to meet open space requirements for alley-loaded lots.

F.    Energy Efficiency. Single-family dwellings and accessory buildings are encouraged to meet the energy efficiency guidelines set forth in ECC 15.530.070. [Ord. 4807 § 58, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.540.030 Duplex design standards.

A.    Purpose. Duplexes should be designed similar in nature to single-family dwellings and shall feature a visible entry and windows facing the street. The visibility of driveways and garages should be minimized and sufficient private open space should be provided.

B.    Design Provisions. Specifically, duplexes shall comply with the single-family design provisions set forth in ECC 15.540.020 with the following exceptions and additional provisions:

1.    Duplexes may include a 24-foot-wide shared driveway or two 12-foot driveways on opposite ends of the lot;

2.    Tandem parking to accommodate two-car garages may be used for duplex structures pursuant to ECC 15.550.040(A);

3.    Separate covered entries for each unit are required (applicable to new buildings only);

4.    Duplexes on corner lots shall place pedestrian entries on opposite streets (applicable to new buildings only); and

5.    Duplexes shall use articulated roof forms to help break up the massing of buildings and distinguish individual units. Duplexes on corner lots may be exceptions, where it is often desirable for a duplex to appear as one dwelling unit (but with entries on opposite streets).

Figure 15.540.030. Diagram illustrating duplex design provisions.

[Ord. 4807 § 58, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.540.040 Accessory dwelling unit design standards (ADU).

A.    Purpose.

1.    To provide infill housing opportunities throughout residential zones in Ellensburg;

2.    To provide affordable housing options; and

3.    To provide an opportunity for rental income for property owners.

B.    Standards for All ADUs. An ADU is designed and established to be a separate dwelling unit that is accessory to a primary single-family dwelling. ADUs can be attached to the primary dwelling or detached. ADUs differ from duplexes in the zoning districts where they are allowed and ADUs are subject to specific size and design criteria relative to the primary dwelling unit.

ADUs are prohibited on any lot of record that is currently developed with a single-family dwelling unit that has been converted to a multifamily use. For example, this would include a single-family dwelling unit that has a defined “Unit A” and a “Unit B.”

Subject to the prohibition above, one accessory dwelling unit is permitted on any lot of record that is currently developed with a single-family dwelling unit provided all of the following conditions are met:

1.    No more than two bedrooms shall be provided in an accessory dwelling unit;

2.    ADUs shall contain a minimum of 300 square feet in floor area, exclusive of stairways or garage area;

3.    ADUs shall not exceed 40 percent of the floor area of a primary dwelling unit or 1,000 square feet, whichever is less, except as follows:

a.    An ADU up to 500 square feet in floor area shall be allowed when the size of the primary dwelling unit would restrict the size of the ADU to less than 500 square feet in floor area. For example: a primary dwelling unit that has a floor area of 1,000 square feet would be allowed an ADU up to 500 square feet rather than an ADU of 400 square feet in floor area (40 percent of 1,000 square feet);

b.    For attached ADUs only, the city may allow for an increased size up to 1,000 square feet maximum in order to efficiently use all floor area on one floor or a portion of an existing house constructed as of December 2, 2013, as long as all other standards herein are met; and

4.    The presence of an accessory dwelling unit must be clearly identified on each entrance by proper numbering.

C.    Additional Standards for a Detached ADU (DADU).

1.    DADUs may be separate freestanding structures located to the side or rear of a primary dwelling unit or may be placed next to and/or above a garage;

2.    DADUs are subject to the building placement standards set forth for garages for the applicable land use district in Chapter 15.320 ECC;

3.    The site coverage of the DADU and accessory buildings shall not exceed 40 percent of the rear yard area;

4.    There shall be a minimum separation of 15 feet between the existing dwellings and the DADU, except where the DADU is built on top of and/or next to an existing garage; and

Figure 15.540.040(C). DADU example/standards.

5.    The maximum width of the DADU shall be 75 percent of the width of the lot, including all projecting building elements such as bay windows and balconies. [Ord. 4810 § 1, 2018; Ord. 4807 § 58, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.540.050 Cottage housing design standards.

A.    Purpose.

1.    To provide an opportunity for small, detached housing types clustered around a common open space;

2.    To ensure that cottage developments contribute to the overall character of residential areas;

3.    To provide for centrally located and functional common open space that fosters a sense of community;

4.    To provide for semi-private area around individual cottages to enable diversity in landscape design and foster a sense of ownership;

5.    To minimize visual impacts of parking areas on the street and adjacent properties and the visual setting for the development; and

6.    To promote conservation of resources by providing for clusters of small dwelling units on a property.

B.    Description. Cottage housing refers to clusters of small detached dwelling units arranged around a common open space.

C.    Lot Configuration. Cottages may be configured as condominiums or fee-simple lots provided they meet the standards herein.

D.    Density Bonus. Due to the smaller relative size of cottage units, each cottage shall be counted as one-half a dwelling unit for the purpose of calculating density. For example, a cluster of six cottages would be equivalent to three dwelling units.

E.    Dimensional Standards.

Table 15.540.050. Dimensional standards for



Maximum floor area

1,200 SF

Minimum common space (see subsection (I) of this section for more info)

400 SF/unit

Minimum private open space (see subsection (J) of this section for more info)

200 SF/unit

Maximum height for cottages

26 ft. (all parts of the roof above 18 ft. shall be pitched with a minimum roof slope of 6:12)

Maximum height for accessory structures of cottages

18 ft.

Setbacks (to exterior property lines)

See ECC 15.320.030

Minimum distance between structures (including accessory structures)

10 ft.

Minimum parking spaces per cottage

See Table 15.550.040(A)

F.    Units in Each Cluster. Cottage housing developments shall contain a minimum of four and a maximum of 12 cottages located in a cluster to encourage a sense of community among the residents. A development site may contain more than one cottage housing development.

G.    Windows on the Street. Transparent windows and/or doors are required on at least 10 percent of the facades (all vertical surfaces) of all cottages facing the street and common open space. For facades facing north, at least eight percent of the facade shall include transparent windows or doors. Departures will be considered pursuant to ECC 15.210.060 for cottages where that standard applies to two or more facades, provided the design meets the purpose of the standards.

H.    Parking and Driveway Location and Design.

1.    Parking shall be located on the same property as the cottage development;

2.    Where lots abut an alley, the garage or off-street parking area is encouraged to take access from the alley;

3.    Parking areas shall be located to the side or rear of cottage clusters and not between the street and cottages. Parking is prohibited in the front and interior setback areas;

4.    Parking and vehicular areas shall be screened from public street and adjacent residential uses by landscaping or architectural screens. For parking lots adjacent to the street, at least 10 feet of Type C landscaping (see ECC 15.570.040(C)) shall be provided between the sidewalk and the parking area. For parking lots along adjacent residential uses, at least five feet of Type A, B, or C landscaping (see ECC 15.570.040) shall be required. The city will consider alternative landscaping techniques provided they effectively mitigate views into the parking area from the street or adjacent residential uses and enhance the visual setting for the development;

5.    Parking shall be located in clusters of not more than five adjoining uncovered spaces (except where adjacent to an alley). Departures will be considered pursuant to ECC 15.210.060 provided alternative configurations improve the visual setting for development;

6.    Garages may be attached to individual cottages provided all other standards herein are met and the footprint of the ground floor, including garage, does not exceed 1,000 square feet. Such garages shall be located away from the common open spaces; and

7.    No more than one driveway per cottage cluster shall be permitted, except where clusters front onto more than one street.

I.    Common Open Space Requirements.

1.    Open space shall abut at least 50 percent of the cottages in a cottage housing development;

2.    Open space shall have cottages abutting on at least two sides;

3.    Cottages shall be oriented around and have the main entry from the common open space;

4.    Cottages shall be within 60 feet walking distance of the common open space; and

5.    Open space shall include at least one courtyard, plaza, garden, or other central open space, with access to all units. The minimum dimensions of this open space are 15 feet by 20 feet.

J.    Required Private Open Space. Private open space shall be required adjacent to each dwelling unit for the exclusive use of the cottage resident(s). The space shall be usable (not on a steep slope) and oriented toward the common open space as much as possible, with no dimension less than 10 feet.

K.    Porches. Cottage facades facing the common open space or common pathway shall feature a roofed porch at least 80 square feet in size with a minimum dimension of eight feet on any side.

L.    Covered Entry and Visual Interest. Cottages located facing a public street shall provide:

1.    A covered entry feature (with a minimum dimension of six feet by six feet) visible from the street;

2.    At least 10 feet of landscaped open space between the residence and the street; and

3.    At least two architectural details, such as:

a.    Decorative lighting;

b.    Decorative trim;

c.    Special door;

d.    Trellis or decorative building element; and/or

e.    Bay window.

Alternative design treatments will be considered as departures pursuant to ECC 15.210.060 provided the design treatments provide visual interest to the pedestrian.

M.    Character and Diversity. Cottages and accessory buildings within a particular cluster shall be designed within the same “family” of architectural styles. Examples of elements include:

1.    Similar building/roof form and pitch;

2.    Similar siding materials;

3.    Similar porch detailing; and/or

4.    Similar window trim;

A diversity of cottages can be achieved within a “family” of styles by:

1.    Alternating porch styles (such as roof forms);

2.    Alternating siding details on facades and/or roof gables; and/or

3.    Different siding color.

Figure 15.540.050(M)(1). Typical cottage housing layouts.

Figure 15.540.050(M)(2). Cottage housing examples.

N.    Energy Efficiency. Cottages and accessory buildings are subject to energy efficiency guidelines and standards set forth in ECC 15.530.070. [Ord. 4807 § 58, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]

15.540.060 Townhouse design standards.

A.    Purpose.

1.    To ensure that townhouse developments enhance the pedestrian-oriented character of downtown streets;

2.    To provide adequate open space for townhouse developments;

3.    To reduce the impact of garages and driveways on the pedestrian environment;

4.    To reduce the apparent bulk and scale of townhouse buildings compatible with adjacent uses; and

5.    To promote architectural variety that adds visual interest to the neighborhood.

Figure 15.540.060(A). Desirable townhouse example. With units fronting on the street and garages placed to the rear accessible from an alley or shared driveway.

B.    Entries.

1.    Townhouses fronting on a street must all have individual ground-related entries accessible from the street. Configurations where enclosed rear yards back up to a street are prohibited;

2.    Separate covered entries at least three feet deep are required for all dwelling units;

3.    For sites without alleys or other rear vehicular access, new buildings must emphasize individual pedestrian entrances over private garages to the extent possible by using both of the following measures:

a.    Enhance entries with a trellis, small porch, or other architectural features that provide cover for a person entering the unit and a transitional space between outside and inside the dwelling; and

b.    Provide a planted area in front of each pedestrian entry of at least 20 square feet in area, with no dimension less than four feet. Provide a combination of shrubs or groundcover and a tree (refer to city arborist or street tree list if available); and

4.    Planting strips with no dimension less than four feet are required adjacent to the primary entry of all dwelling units. This includes townhouses located to the rear of lots off an alley or private internal drive.

C.    Garages and Driveways.

1.    Where lots abut an alley, the garage or off-street parking area should take access from the alley;

2.    For lots without alleys, individual driveways off of the street are prohibited (shared driveways are required);

3.    Garages facing a public street are prohibited;

4.    Internal Drive Aisle Standards.

a.    Must meet minimum fire code widths;

b.    Minimum building separation along uncovered internal drive aisles shall be 25 feet. The purpose is to provide adequate vehicular turning radius, allow for landscaping elements on at least one side, and to provide adequate light and air on both sides of the dwelling units and drive aisles, which often function as usable open space for residents; and

c.    Upper level building projections over drive aisles are limited to three feet, and must comply with provisions in subsection (C)(4)(b) of this section.

Figure 15.540.060(C). Good and bad examples of garage/entry configurations. The left example features a landscaped area and a trellis to highlight the entry. In the middle image, the balconies and landscaped areas deemphasize the garage. In the right image, the lack of landscaping is a glaring omission.

D.    Open Space. Townhouse residential units shall provide open space at least equal to 10 percent of the building living space, not counting automobile storage. The required open space may be provided by one or more of the following ways:

1.    Usable private open space that is directly adjacent and accessible to dwelling units. Such space shall have minimum dimensions of at least 12 feet on all sides and be configured to accommodate human activity such as outdoor eating, gardening, toddler play, etc.;

2.    Common open space meeting the requirements of ECC 15.520.030(E)(1);

3.    Balconies, decks and/or front porches meeting the requirements of ECC 15.520.030(E)(2); and/or

4.    Community garden space meeting the requirements of ECC 15.520.030(E)(5).

E.    Building Design.

1.    Townhouse Articulation. Townhouse buildings shall comply with multifamily building articulation standards as set forth in ECC 15.530.030(D) except that the articulation intervals shall be no wider than the width of units in the building. Thus, if individual units are 15 feet wide, the building shall include at least three articulation features per ECC 15.530.030(D) for all facades facing a street, common open space, and common parking areas at intervals no greater than 15 feet.

2.    Repetition with Variety. (See Figures 15.540.060(E)(2) and 15.540.060(E)(3).) Townhouse developments shall employ one or more of the following “repetition with variety” guidelines:

a.    Reversing the elevation of two out of four dwellings for townhouses;

b.    Providing different building elevations for external townhouse units (versus internal units) by changing the roofline, articulation, windows, and/or building modulation patterns;

c.    Adding a different dwelling design or different scale of the same design, such as adding a one-story version of the basic dwelling design where two stories are typical (or a two-story design where three stories are typical); and/or

d.    Other design treatments that add variety or provide special visual interest. While the variable use of color on buildings can be effective in reducing the perceived scale of the building and adding visual interest, color changes alone are not sufficient to meet the purpose of the guidelines.

Figure 15.540.060(E)(2). Acceptable townhouse configuration employing the repetition with variety concept.

Figure 15.540.060(E)(3). An acceptable townhouse building. Note the landscaped front yards and individual walkways and entries. The internal units each have distinct, but identical windows and roof forms. The outside unit is differentiated through the use of building materials, window design, unit size, and facade detailing.

F.    Energy Efficiency. Townhouses are subject to energy efficiency provisions set forth in ECC 15.530.070. [Ord. 4807 § 58, 2018; Ord. 4656 § 1 (Exh. O2), 2013.]