Chapter 20.21


20.21.005    Intent and goals.

20.21.010    Repealed.

20.21.015    Cottage defined.

20.21.020    Applicable use zones.

20.21.025    Parameters for cottages.

20.21.030    Design standards and guidelines.

20.21.035    Repealed.

20.21.040    Additional standards.

20.21.005 Intent and goals.

(1) Intent. The provisions of this chapter are available as alternatives to the development of typical detached single-family homes. This chapter governs all cottage housing developments. In the event of a conflict between the standards in this chapter and other zoning and development standards in the Puyallup Municipal Code, this chapter shall control. The intent of the cottage housing development regulations is to:

(a) Support the growth management goal of more efficient use of urban residential land;

(b) Support development of diverse housing in accordance with the comprehensive plan;

(c) Increase the variety of housing types available for smaller households;

(d) Provide opportunities for small, detached dwelling units within existing neighborhoods; and

(e) Provide opportunities for creative, diverse and high-quality infill development that is compatible with existing neighborhoods.

(2) Goals. The goals of this chapter and standards are to:

(a) Increase housing supply and the choice of housing styles available in the community in accordance with the comprehensive plan;

(b) Provide for development of housing that responds to changing demographics and smaller-sized households;

(c) Support the efficient use of land and higher density infill in developed areas;

(d) Promote greater choice by encouraging smaller and more diverse home sizes and mixes of income levels;

(e) Promote high quality design; and

(f) Allow flexibility in site and design standards while promoting infill projects compatible with existing single-family developments. (Ord. 3203 § 10, 2019; Ord. 2991 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011).

20.21.010 Selection and review process.

Repealed by Ord. 3203. (Ord. 2991 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011).

20.21.015 Cottage defined.

The following definition applies to the housing type allowed through the provisions in this chapter:

“Cottage” means a detached, single-family dwelling unit containing 1,500 square feet or less of gross floor area. (Ord. 2991 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011).

20.21.020 Applicable use zones.

The housing types described in this chapter may only be located in the following zones: RS-04, RS-06, RS-08, RS-10, and RM-10. (Ord. 3203 § 12, 2019; Ord. 2991 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011).

20.21.025 Parameters for cottages.

(Please refer to PMC 20.21.030 for additional requirements related to these standards.)



Minimum Site Size1

0.5 acres

Maximum Unit Size2

1,500 square feet3

Not to exceed 1,000 square feet on the main floor. Second floor square footage shall not exceed 75% of ground floor square footage


Two (2) times the maximum number of detached dwelling units allowed in the underlying zone 4, 5, 6, 7

Minimum Lot Size

Beyond density restrictions, there is no required minimum lot size for lots created through the subdivision process. (The number of allowed units on the subject property is determined by the density provision of this chart.)

Floor Area Ratio (FAR)8


Development Size

Minimum: 4 units

Maximum: 18 units

Maximum cluster9: 12 units


Developments containing cottage and/or two- and three-unit homes may not be located closer than the distance noted below to another development approved under the provisions of this chapter:

1 to 9 Units: 500 feet

10 to 18 Units: 1,000 feet

Parking Requirements10

Units 900 square feet or less: 1.5 spaces per unit

Units over 900 square feet: 2 spaces per unit

Must be provided on the subject site

Minimum Required Yards (from exterior property lines of subject property)11

Front: 20 feet

Public Street: 15 feet

Interior and Rear: 10 feet

Lot Coverage (all impervious surfaces)12




- Dwelling Units

25 feet (where minimum roof slope of 6:12 for all parts of the roof above 18 feet is provided). Otherwise, 18 feet

- Accessory Structures

One story, not to exceed 18 feet

Tree Retention and Street Trees

Standards contained in Chapter 11.28 PMC and vegetation management standards shall apply to development approved under this chapter

Open Space

400 square feet of common open space required per unit. See PMC 20.21.030(3) for further regulations

300 square feet of private open space required per unit. See PMC 20.21.030(4) for further regulations

Community Buildings

Community buildings are required. See PMC 20.21.030(2) for further regulations

Attached Covered Porches

Each unit must have a covered porch with a minimum area of 64 square feet per unit and a minimum dimension of 7 feet on all sides

Development Options



Rental or ownership

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Not permitted as part of a cottage development


1 Site shall include any parcel or combination of contiguous parcels which make up the entire project development site.

2 A covenant restricting any increases in unit size after initial construction shall be recorded against the property. Vaulted space may not be converted to habitable space.

3 Maximum size for a cottage is 1,500 square feet. Cottage areas that do not count toward the maximum size calculation are:

a. Unheated storage space located under the main floor of the cottage.

b. Architectural projections, such as bay windows, fireplaces or utility closets not greater than 18 inches in depth and six feet in width.

c. Attached roofed porches.

d. Garages.

e. Interior spaces with a ceiling height of six feet or less, as in a second floor area under the slope of the roof.

4 Existing detached dwelling units may remain on the subject property and will be counted as units. Any nonconforming aspects with respect to the standards of this chapter shall be permitted to remain; however, the extent of the nonconformities shall not be increased unless the proposed change is determined by the planning director to be consistent in character, scale and design with the cottage development.

5 When the conversion from detached dwelling units to equivalent units results in a fraction, the equivalent units shall be limited to the whole number less the fraction.

6 See PMC 20.20.040(16) and 20.25.040(18) for density calculation on a site that contains critical area buffers.

7 To determine equivalent units for a two- or three-unit home, the following formula will be used: Lot area/min. lot size per unit in underlying zone x 2 = maximum units (always round down to nearest whole number). Example: (RS-08 zone): 24,000/8,000 = 3 x 2 = 6 units.

8 FAR regulations:

a. FAR regulations are calculated using the “buildable area” of the site, as defined in Chapter 20.15 PMC. Where no sensitive areas regulated under Chapter 21.06 PMC exist on the site, FAR regulations shall be calculated using the entire subject property.

b. All structures on site shall be included in the FAR calculation for the development. FAR for individual lots may vary.

9 Cluster size is intended to encourage a sense of community among residents. A development site may contain more than one cluster, with a clear separation between clusters.

10 If the subject site is within one-quarter mile of a transit station or park and ride facility and on-street parking is available on streets adjacent to the subject site, parking ratios may be reduced by 0.5 stalls per dwelling unit.

11 Setbacks shall be measured to any structure from all exterior property lines of the subject site.

12 Lot coverage is calculated using the entire development site, excluding critical areas and their buffers. Lot coverage for individual lots may vary.

(Ord. 2991 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011).

20.21.030 Design standards and guidelines.

(1) Orientation of Dwelling Units. Dwellings within a cottage housing development shall be oriented to promote a sense of community, both within the development, and with respect to the larger community, outside of the cottage project. A cottage development shall not be designed to “turn its back” on the surrounding neighborhood.

(a) Each dwelling unit that abuts a common open space shall have a primary entry and/or covered porch oriented to the common open space.

(b) Each dwelling unit abutting a public right-of-way (not including alleys) shall have an inviting facade, such as a primary or secondary entrance or porch, oriented to the public right-of-way. If a dwelling unit abuts more than one public right-of-way, the planning director shall determine to which right-of-way the inviting facade shall be oriented.

(c) Lots in a cottage development are not required to abut a public street.

(2) Community Buildings. Community buildings are intended to provide an indoor gathering place for residents, allowing for a variety of uses and serving as a location for events that individual units may not be able to accommodate.

(a) Community buildings shall be at least 500 square feet on the main floor, no greater than 1,500 gross square feet total, and shall have an architectural character similar to that of the dwelling units.

(b) Community buildings must be located on the same site as the cottage housing development and be commonly owned by the residents.

(c) Community buildings shall be enclosed structures, shall not be attached to any cottages and shall contain at a minimum bathroom and kitchen facilities. Kitchen facilities shall include a sink and counter.

(d) Up to 1,000 gross square feet of the community building may be counted towards the common open space calculation.

(3) Common Open Space. Common open space shall provide a sense of openness, visual relief, and community for cottage developments. The space shall be located outside of critical areas and their buffers, developed and maintained to provide for passive and/or active recreational activities for the residents of the development and maintained in common ownership by the residents of the development.

(a) Each area of common open space shall be in one contiguous and usable piece with a minimum dimension of 35 feet on all sides.

(b) Land located between dwelling units and an abutting right-of-way or access easement greater than 21 feet in width may not serve as required common open space, unless the area is reserved as a separate tract, and does not contain pathways leading to individual units or other elements that detract from its appearance and function as a shared space for all residents.

(c) Required common open space may be divided into no more than two separate areas per cluster of dwelling units.

(d) Common open space shall be located in a centrally located area and be easily accessible to all dwellings within the cluster.

(e) Each cottage shall be within 60 feet walking distance of the common open space.

(f) Fences may not be located within required open space areas.

(g) Landscaping located in common open space areas shall be designed to allow for easy access and use of the space by all residents, and to facilitate maintenance needs. Existing mature trees should be retained in accordance with the vegetation management standards.

(h) Unless the shape or topography of the site precludes the ability to locate units adjacent to the common open space, the following standards shall be met:

(i) The open space shall be located so that it will be surrounded by cottages on at least two sides; and

(ii) At least 50 percent of the units in the development shall abut a common open space. A cottage is considered to abut an area of open space if there is no structure or road between the unit and the open space.

(i) Surface water management facilities shall be limited within common open space areas. Low impact development (LID) features are permitted, provided they do not adversely impact access to or use of the common open space for a variety of activities. Conventional stormwater collection and conveyance tools, such as flow control and/or water quality vaults, are permitted if located underground, are privately maintained and allowed by other city regulations.

(4) Private Open Space.

(a) Each unit shall have a covered porch with a minimum area of 64 square feet per unit and a minimum dimension of seven feet on all sides. Porches shall be associated with primary point of entry, shall be constructed using wood materials and shall contain a railing.

(b) In addition to porches, at least 300 square feet of private, contiguous, usable open space adjacent to each individual dwelling unit shall be provided to contribute positively to the visual appearance of the development, promote diversity in planting materials and utilize generally accepted good landscape design. The private open space shall have no dimension less than 10 feet and define private residences from common areas, trails and parking areas. If fences are used to enclose private open space, they shall have at least 50 percent visually permeable elements through the use of pickets, cedar split rails, iron work, or trellis treatment, and shall not exceed three feet in height.

(5) Shared Detached Garages and Surface Parking Design. Parking areas should be located so their visual presence is minimized and associated noise or other impacts do not intrude into public spaces. These areas should also maintain the single-family character along public streets.

(a) Shared detached garage structures shall not exceed four single bay garage doors per building, and a total of 1,200 square feet.

(b) Each dwelling unit shall have at least one enclosed parking space. For shared detached garages, the design of the structure shall be similar to and compatible with that of the dwelling units within the development.

(c) Surface parking areas or garages shall be located in clusters of no more than four spaces. Clusters shall be separated by a minimum of at least eight feet of landscaping or open space.

(d) Shared detached garage structures and surface parking areas shall be screened from public streets, adjacent residential uses and common open space by at least five feet of landscaping or architectural screening.

(e) There shall be no more than 14 parking spaces (garage or surface) in every 200 linear feet.

(f) Shared detached garage structures shall be reserved through a covenant for the parking of vehicles owned by the residents of the development. Storage of items which preclude the use of the parking spaces for vehicles is prohibited.

(g) Carports are not permitted.

(h) Parking of recreational vehicles on the development site is prohibited.

(6) Low Impact Development. The proposed site design shall incorporate the use of low impact development (LID) strategies to meet stormwater management standards. LID is a set of techniques that mimic natural watershed hydrology by slowing, evaporating/transpiring, and filtering water, which allows water to soak into the ground closer to its source. The design shall seek to meet the following objectives:

(a) Preservation of natural hydrology;

(b) Reduced impervious surfaces;

(c) Treatment of stormwater in numerous small, decentralized structures;

(d) Use of natural topography for drainage ways and storage areas;

(e) Preservation of portions of the site in undisturbed, natural conditions; and

(f) Reduction of the use of piped systems. Whenever possible, site design should use multifunctional open drainage systems such as vegetated swales or filter strips which also help to fulfill landscaping and open space requirements.

(7) Variation in Unit Sizes, Building and Site Design. Cottage projects should establish building and site design that promotes variety and visual interest that is compatible with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.

(a) Projects shall include a mix of unit sizes within a single development.

(b) Not more than 50 percent of units shall be greater than 1,000 gross square feet.

(c) Proposals are encouraged to provide a variety of building styles, features, colors and site design elements within cottage housing communities. Dwellings with the same combination of features and treatments should not be located adjacent to each other. Identical elements shall not be repeated in more than 25 percent of the cottages in the development.

(8) Pedestrian Flow through Development. Pedestrian connections shall link all buildings to the public right-of-way, common open space and parking areas.

(9) Storage Space. Storage space may be provided as follows:

(a) Detached sheds designed to be similar in character to the cottage units, using similar building materials and design elements.

(b) Storage space within detached parking structures that does not conflict with parking of vehicles in the garages.

(c) Storage space within a dwelling unit, accessible only through an external door.

(d) Designated storage space attached to a community building.

(e) Other storage space options approved through the administrative site plan review process.

(10) Trash Receptacles. All dumpsters and refuse containers shall be located adjacent to garage structures and screened architecturally and/or with landscaping from adjacent properties and the public right-of-way. (Ord. 2991 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011).

20.21.035 Permit process.

Repealed by Ord. 3203. (Ord. 2991 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011).

20.21.040 Additional standards.

(1) Application Fees. Application fees for the review of the proposed project shall be based on the number of single-family units that would be allowed by the underlying zoning, regardless of the number of units proposed under this chapter.

(2) Impact Fees and System Development Charges. Impact fees and system development charges shall be collected for each dwelling unit within an innovative housing development. Traffic impact fees for cottage housing developments shall utilize single-family rates for units where two parking spaces are required and low rise residential condo/townhouse rates where less than two parking spaces are required. All other impact fees and system development charges shall be assessed and collected as provided for in PMC Title 14 and Chapter 21.20 PMC.

(3) Subdivision.

(a) The city’s approval of a cottage housing development does not constitute approval of a subdivision or short plat. An applicant wishing to subdivide in connection with a development under this chapter shall seek approval to do so pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 19.07 or 19.08 PMC concurrently with the approval process under this chapter. For developments under this chapter that concurrently submit an application for a short plat pursuant to Chapter 19.07 PMC, such short plat approval is subject to hearing examiner review and approval in the same manner as provided for in PMC 19.08.120.

(b) A lot that has existing cottage homes may not be subdivided unless all of the requirements of the Puyallup Municipal Code are met.

(4) Homeowners’ Association and Covenants. A homeowners’ association is required to be created for the purpose of regulating and providing for the use and maintenance of common areas, buildings, and similar features. Covenants reflecting such use and maintenance shall be recorded with the Pierce County auditor. (Ord. 2991 § 2 (Exh. A), 2011).