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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

Mixed Use Codes

Washington Large/Medium-Sized Cities

Washington Small Cities

  • Battle Ground Municipal Code Ch. 17.122 - Mixed Use Districts
  • Gig Harbor Municipal Code Ch. 17.91 - Mixed Use District Overlay
  • Mukilteo Municipal Code Ch. 17.25 - Design Standards for Mixed-Use Development
  • Port Townsend Municipal Code Ch.17.18 - Mixed Use Districts and Ch. 17.40 - Mixed Use Developments
  • Snoqualmie Municipal Code Ch. 17.30 - MU Mixed Use District Regulations
  • Sumner Municipal Code Ch. 18.26 - Planned Mixed-Use Development (PMUD)
  • Tumwater Municipal Code Ch. 18.20 - Mixed Use Zone District

Washington Counties


  • Austin, TX Design Standards and Mixed Use Ordinance Subchapter E, Art. 4 of the Land Development Code - Vertical and horizontal mixed use standards, updates through 2013
  • Cambridge, MA Zoning Ordinance Article 14.000, Mixed Use Development District, Cambridge Center
  • Eugene, OR
    • Lower River Road/Rasor Mixed Use Center - Concept plan and strategies for creating a vibrant mixed use center and corridor with improved transit, while protecting values of adjacent Willamette Greenway, 06/22/2009
    • Walnut Station Mixed Use Center - Specific Plan to transform boulevard, which serves as the city’s eastern gateway, into city pedestrian and transit-friendly mixed use development along a bus rapid transit line
    • Ordinance No. 20514 - An Ordinance Concerning Downtown and Mixed Use Development
  • Fort Collins Land Use Code - Mixed use corridors, as well as centers and certain neighborhoods
    • Div. 4.5 - Low Density Mixed-Use Neighborhood District (L-M-N)
    • Div. 4.6 - Medium Density Mixed-Use Neighborhood District (M-M-N)
    • Div. 4.10 - High Density Mixed-Use Neighborhood District (H-M-N)
    • Div. 4.26 - Harmony Corridor District (H-C)
    • Sec. 3.5.3 - Mixed-Use, Institutional and Commercial Buildings
  • Hillsboro, OR Community Development Code Subchapter 12.24 - Mixed-Use Districts and Urban Center Zones
  • La Mesa, CA

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.

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

Related Types of Mixed Use Developments

  • Transit Oriented Development, MRSC - Links to guidebooks, ordinances, market and financing strategies, and other resources for TOD mixed-use 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 altogether 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. Some communities, such as San Francisco, are trying to work out problems, including keeping its artist lofts affordable.

Seattle Live-Work Codes

Portland Live-Work Information

  • Portland Zoning Code Sec. 33.583.280, in Ch. 33.583 - St. Johns Plan District - Provides flexibility to facilitate live-work in an employment zone
  • Portland Municipal Code Ch. 24.85.040(C) - Occupancy Change to Live/Work Space - Facilitates conversion to live/work use

Other Live-Work Programs

  • San Francisco, CA
    • Industrial Protection Zones, Live/Work Projects and Community Plans, San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst - Problems with Live/Work displacing Industrial
    • San Francisco Planning Code Article 8 - Mixed Use Districts - See Sec. 813, 815, 816, 817, and 818 and related tables.
    • San Francisco Planning Commicssion Resolution No.17525, 2008 - Discourages conversion to certain other uses including live/work, in portions of industrial protection district: Encourages mixed use in housing zone
  • Berkeley City Code Ch. 20E.20 - Live-Work Provisions

Other Recommended Resources

  • 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 mixing land uses.

Last Modified: July 07, 2021