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Mixed Use

This page provides resources to help local governments in Washington State implement mixed use developments, including examples of local codes and parking requirements.


Mixed use development is an important component of successful transit-oriented development, traditional neighborhood development, and smart growth/livable community development schemes. Mixed use developments contain a complementary mix of uses such as residential, retail, commercial, employment, civic and entertainment uses in close proximity - sometimes in the same building. Compatibility issues are addressed through performance standards, transition tools, careful site layout and building design, rather than by separating uses into single use zones.

When a wide variety of uses are located in close proximity to each other, walking and cycling become practical means of travel. For mixed use development to succeed, varied land uses must be within convenience walking distance of each other (one quarter mile, 5-10 minutes) and there must be direct, safe, and convenient connections between the uses. Residents in mixed use developments can take care of many daily needs without having to drive elsewhere. Mixed use development allows convenient access between work, home and other uses and services. In addition, mixed use development can contribute vitality and interest for residents, additional customers for neighborhood businesses, and a variety of housing choices.

Design Manuals, Best Practices, and Reports

Below are some resources to help implement mixed use developments.

Examples of Mixed Use Codes

Below are examples of mixed use codes from various jurisdictions of different sizes and locations in Washington State, along with some out-of state examples.

Cities over 25,000 population

Cities under 25,000 population


Outside Washington State

Mixed Use Parking Requirements / Parking Reduction Provisions

A number of communities allow for reduced parking requirements in mixed use centers and developments in which the uses operate at different times from one another throughout the day. Less parking is needed at any given time compared to districts such as office districts where most businesses operate on a similar schedule. Businesses with varying hours of operation are often able to share the same parking spaces while maintaining adequate parking for customers. In addition, when a variety of uses are located in close proximity to residential uses, it is easier to accomplish some commuting, shopping and errands by walking or cycling, reducing the need to drive and park.

Examples of Codes

The following are examples of shared parking and other parking code approaches that can work well in mixed use development.

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-oriented developments (TOD) are a type of mixed use development. For an overview, including useful resources and examples of local TOD plans and ordinances, see our page on Transit-Oriented Development.

Live-Work Units

Live-work units are a type of mixed use development, combining commercial or manufacturing space within the same structure as a residential living space for the business owner. They have similar benefits to mixed use development and eliminate the need to commute to work. In addition, they can provide affordable work and housing space, meet the needs of special groups such as artists, and serve to incubate new businesses.

Both large and small cities, such as Seattle and Sumner, have provided for live-work housing. Tacoma is proactively recruiting artists to the community as a part of its economic development strategy and offers help with finding artists' live-work spaces.

Examples of Live-Work Codes from Seattle

Examples of Live-Work Codes from Outside Washington State

Examples of Permit Process for Live-Work Spaces

Recommended Resource

  • Transportation Efficient Communities – Partnership between multiple Washington State departments to help local planners and officials make their communities more transportation-efficient. Includes a section on mix land uses.

Last Modified: November 23, 2021