Courtesy of

Courtesy of

North Bend adopts development code for downtown buildings

North Bend’s City Council unanimously approved a form-based code to guide development in its downtown commercial zone, a roughly 20-block area.

The new code was approved on June 1. The new code focuses on how a building looks and how it relates to public spaces instead of outlining uses for the buildings. A press release from the city states that as more downtown buildings are re-developed, the code will provide a unified ordinance to achieve the desired character — and keep developments in the scale and character of existing buildings.

The code does not change the maximum allowable building heights for the downtown commercial zone. The downtown core will remain at a maximum of 35 feet.

The city has historically operated under a zoning code, where certain uses like commercial or residential were allowed in certain areas. This was replaced by form-based code, which prescribes what buildings must look like, and how they mingle with pedestrians, traffic and other buildings.

The goal of the update is to energize downtown as a destination while increasing the overall supply of affordable housing options.

City officials hope that the change, in part, could boost production of middle-income housing by not prescribing what uses a particular building should have, but rather that a building fit with the rest of the city’s aesthetic.

Form-based code was first implementedin Florida in the early 1980s, and has slowly spread to the Pacific Northwest. Several cities in King County have already adopted similar measures, including Bothell for its downtown redevelopment and Tukwila for its Southcenter area, along with Mountlake Terrace’s town center.

The region has been slower to adopt these codes in part because of its diverse terrain, lack of established and desirable development patterns, and a desire for a broad range of architectural styles, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center.

Many cities across the country rely on zoning principles that were established a century ago to separate industrial land uses from residential neighborhoods. North Bend operated under a similar zoning system with its old code. After World War II and a massive migration to the suburbs, single family homes were in vogue. Townhouses, courtyard buildings and fourplexes were popular before they declined.

The interest in form-based code also comes as governments are looking for ways to increase housing stock. The King County Council has a goal of building or preserving 44,000 affordable housing units within the next four years. And while the mid-price housing in the North Bend proposal wouldn’t be affordable units, more stock is needed to address issues around housing affordability and homelessness.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Issaquah and Bellevue police chase ends with stolen car in river

The two suspects have been arrested and are awaiting charges with King County.

Rob Wotton. Courtesy photo.
Rob Wotton named new member of Snoqualmie Council

The Snoqualmie City Council unanimously appointed Rob Wotton as its newest council… Continue reading

During a news conference Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee explains the deployment of the National Guard to hospitals to assist with the coronavirus surge. (TVW) 20220113
Surgeries paused, National Guard deployed to assist hospitals

King County health officials say 1 in 7 ICU and acute-care hospital beds are occupied by a COVID patient.

Screenshot from City of Kent Facebook Page
Trash piles up in King County neighborhoods after agency postpones service for weeks

Collection company initially cited weather as the reason, but now a strike interferes.

Screenshot from King County Council meeting
King County Council approves new leadership, committee structure and assignments

The leadership positions and committee assignments will last through 2022.

Authorities search for 6-year-old boy and woman along the Snoqualmie River near Fall City. Photo courtesy of Eastside Fire & Rescue.
Body of 6-year-old recovered from Snoqualmie River

Authorities have recovered the body of a 6 year-old boy from the… Continue reading

WSDOT finalizing study on SR 202 improvements near Fall City

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is finalizing two studies of… Continue reading

File photo
Widespread burnout among healthcare workers prompts change at hospitals

Healthcare workers unions are supporting HB 1868 and companion bill SB 5715.

Most Read