FAQ's - Coeur Housing

Coeur Housing
FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions
Myth Busters

To see the latest on Coeur Housing please click here

  1. What is Coeur Housing?
Answer: It is a change to the Zoning Code to allow additional housing units that are house-scale and quality in design, in areas of the city that are appropriate.  It is the type housing that was historically built in communities through the United States and is seen in several of the older neighborhoods in Coeur d’Alene.  Coeur Housing is inspired by the Missing Middle Housing concept by Opticos Design but it is being customized for Coeur d’Alene.  Missing Middle Housing includes housing product types that have been missing in our communities for a number of years that fall in between single-family detached housing and mid-rise apartments.  It includes townhouses, triplexes, fourplexes, live/work units, cottage courts, courtyard apartment, and multiplexes that are house-scale and generally on individual lots.  Historic examples are large homes that were converted into four or five units in the downtown neighborhoods.   For Coeur d’Alene, it will not include duplexes or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) since those are already permitted and addressed in the Zoning Code.  Coeur Housing also does not include apartment complexes with multiple buildings.
Many communities are changing their codes to allow and encourage Missing Middle Housing to allow more choices and allow infill development to occur that is compatible with existing neighborhoods (see question 11 below for examples of communities that are incorporating this concept into their codes). Coeur d’Alene is customizing the Missing Middle Housing concept to work for our community and is also adding in a tiny house court option.  Coeur Housing will be allowed in areas of the city that are near jobs, employment, services, the downtown, public transportation, and walking/biking trails, if they have the correct zoning and lot size.  It is anticipated that Coeur Housing will be primarily be constructed as infill housing on vacant and underutilized lots.  But some newer development projects (including future Planned Unit Development [PUD] projects) may also choose to include these Coeur Housing product types to allow more diversity of housing choices and create stronger neighborhoods.
For more information about the effort please visit the below link to the virtual community meeting.


  1. What is infill housing?

Answer: Infill housing is defined as new housing units constructed on vacant or underused lots, generally in existing neighborhoods.  Infill also utilizes existing infrastructure.

  1. Has Coeur d’Alene had an infilling code before?

Answer: Yes, the City previously had a Cluster Housing Code and a Pocket Housing Code.  They have both been repealed.  Coeur Housing will take the place of these with the goal of more neighborhood compatibility by having smaller project sizes and better design criteria.

  1. Can Coeur Housing be located on a typical sized Single-Family lot? 
Answer: No, Coeur Housing is not allowed on lots less than 8,250 square feet (SF) in area.  Typical single family lots are 5,500 SF in area which is less than the minimum lot area needed in order to qualify for a Coeur Housing development.  There may also be restrictions based on zoning and/or proximity in the City even if a minimum lot size can be achieved.  Additionally, see the answer to question 5.
  1. What are the minimum and maximum lot sizes to be eligible for Coeur Housing?
Answer:  Minimum Lot Size = 8,250 SF    (+/-  1.5 City Lots)
              Maximum Lot Size = 33,000 SF    (+/-  6 City Lots)
  1. If I live in a neighborhood that was approved by special use for single family only, or as a planned unit development (PUD) and has codes, covenants, and restrictions (CCR’s) that prohibit units other than single family, then is Coeur Housing allowed in these types of developments?

Answer: No, Coeur Housing is not allowed in areas that were approved by special use permit for single family only or as a planned unit development if the housing types are restricted to single family.  

  1. Is Coeur Housing the same as an R-34 Special Use Permit?

Answer: No, Coeur Housing is not the same thing as R-34.  Coeur Housing is intended to be house-scale and generally would result in one building on one lot depending on the type of housing that is constructed.  R-34 special use permits are a discretionary process requiring a public hearing with the Planning Commission. If granted, an R-34 special use permit would allow 34 units per acre and 63 feet maximum height.  There is no maximum project size with an R-34 special use permit, and they can be part of a larger apartment complex or could be a smaller project near a major roadway.  Coeur Housing types have lot size and project size maximums and height limits that are less than allowed with the R-34 special use permit.  The Coeur Housing Code is being drafted to be allowed by-right if all of the zoning, lot size, location and allowable housing type requirements can be met.

See answer to question 9 below for building height information. 
See answer to question 13 about By-Right Development. 
  1. What is the maximum number of units allowed in a Coeur Housing project?
Answer:  The Coeur Housing Committee has made the below recommendations in regards to the number of units allowed per Coeur Housing Type.  The types of Coeur Housing Units and where they are allowed will be defined in the Coeur Housing code.  There will be additional community input to determine which housing types are appropriate in various zones and neighborhoods.

Housing Types: Unit Counts

•       (3)  Tri-plex

•       (4)   Four-plex

•       (3-16) Cottage Court

•       (4-16) Tiny House Court

•       (7-20) Courtyard Apartment

•       (1)  Townhouse

•       (1) Live/Work

•       (6-10) Multi-Plex: Small

•       (11-20) Multi-Plex: Large

  1. What are the appropriate building heights for Coeur Housing?

Answer:  The Coeur Housing Committee has made recommendations that if a Coeur Housing development is located in a residential neighborhood, then the building should be house-scale in nature and generally mirror allowable building height of the underlining zoning.     

  1. What is a Second Story Stepback?

Answer:  A secondary story stepback is the stepping back of a structure away from the neighboring property at the second level so that it lessens the impact of blocking the air and light on the neighboring property.  The second story stepback is currently part of the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) code.   For more information on the second story stepback pleases see the below link to the City’s ADU Handout.

  1. What is medium density housing development?

 Answer:  Medium density housing is typically residential developments that falls between detached suburban housing and multi-story apartments.



  1. What communities have a Missing Middle Housing code?

Answer:  Communities across the United States have incorporated various aspects and housing types modeled after Opticos Design’s Missing Middle Housing into their zoning codes. Below is a list of some cities that have incorporated parts of the missing middle housing concepts into their zoning codes.

  • Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Kauai County, Hawaii
  • Beaufort County, South Carolina
  • Decatur, Georgia
  • Novato, CA

As noted in other answers to these FAQ’s, the City of Coeur d’Alene is getting inspiration from the Missing Middle Housing strategy, but our Coeur Housing Code is not a copy and paste of another community’s code. It is being written in-house and customized to fit our community based on valuable local input and existing conditions.

  1. What is By-Right Development process?
Answer:  By-right development establishes a rule-based development approval process that allows someone to simply apply for a building permit if they have the appropriate zoning in place and can show staff that they meet the code requirements to proceed with their project.  Pulling a permit for a single-family home or an ADU is considered by-right development.  It allows someone to go straight to the building permit process for administrative review by staff versus requiring discretionary approval, which requires a public hearing before a hearing body such as the Planning Commission, Design Review Commission, and/or the City Council.  Examples of discretionary approval are a zone change and special use permit requests.  By having a by-right development process in place, it improves the ability of the housing market to create new housing in response to increased demand in a more expedited manner. 
Please see below link for more information on By-Right Development.


  1. Is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) part of the Coeur Housing code?
Answer: No, accessory dwelling units are not part of the Coeur Housing Code.  ADU’s are currently allowed in the City.  All ADU’s must be accessory to a single-family dwelling.  Please see below link to the ADU code handout.


  1. Is Coeur Housing an Affordable Housing code?

Answer: No. Coeur Housing is not an affordable housing code.  It is intended to allow for more housing product types that will result in more housing choices for families and individuals, but with a focus on quality design and compatibility.  By creating more supply and a variety of housing choices at different price points for renters and buyers, it may indirectly help with some of our affordability challenges.

  1. Who is drafting the Coeur Housing Code?

Answer:  Planning Department staff is drafting the code with the assistance of the Coeur Housing Committee and input from the community (including neighborhood groups), Planning Commission, City Council, Historic Preservation Commission, and City departments.  No consultants are drafting of this code.  See answer to question 1 about Coeur Housing and its inspiration from Missing Middle Housing.  

  1. Will the Coeur Housing Code be modeled after major metropolitan areas in Washington and California?
Answer: No. While the virtual community meeting shared examples of design standards from other communities, such as Spokane, Seattle and Bellingham, those communities’ codes are not being used for Coeur d’Alene; however, some of their design standards may get incorporated and/or customized if they would ensure quality design and result in Coeur Housing projects that are compatible with existing neighborhoods.
  1. How did the City notice the virtual community meeting on November 19, 2020?

Answer:  Staff noticed the community of the meeting using the following methods:

  • Sent Press Release to local media
  • Posted the Press Release on the City’s Facebook page and Twitter
  • Posted the Press Release on the City’s homepage under “Latest News”
  • Posted a second time on City’s Facebook site
  • Posted the meeting on the City’s online calendar
  • Posted information on Nextdoor for all Coeur d'Alene neighborhoods to see
  • Sent email invitations to downtown neighborhood groups
  • Sent email invitation to local builder and realtor associations
  • Sent meeting invitations to Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission and Coeur Housing Committee
  • Created a Facebook Event with a link to the Zoom meeting

  1. What is required for public notice for a code amendment?

Answer:  The Coeur d’Alene Municipal Code provides the requirement for public notice of a code amendment in Section 17.09.120: B, which reads as follows:   

Notice of Public Hearing: Notice of such public hearings shall contain a description of the property or properties under consideration, a summary of the request, the time and place of the hearing, and any other pertinent information. Such notice need be given only by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the County, and by mailing a notice not less than fifteen (15) days prior to the date of the hearing, to the owners of property within the subject property and within a radius of three hundred feet (300') from the external boundaries of the subject property as required pursuant to section 17.09.115 of this chapter. Notices shall also be posted on the premises not less than one week prior to the hearing. Changes to the zoning ordinance text will not require mailing of notices to property owners. When notice is required to two hundred (200) or more owners, notice shall be given only by publication, and not by mailed notice.   (emphasis added)
  1. Will there be more opportunities for public input?

Answer:  Yes. At a minimum, the City is required to hold one public hearing on a Zoning Code amendment such as the Coeur Housing Code.  The hearing would be with the Planning Commission.  The City can opt to hold an additional hearing with the City Council as well.  Based on feedback and questions at the virtual community meeting on November 19, staff and the Coeur Housing Committee will be doing more outreach with the neighborhood groups and engaging the City’s Historic Preservation Commission and consultant preparing the Historic Preservation Plan to receiving more input on the code and ensure that it won’t result in negative impacts on neighborhoods.  Staff plans to host another virtual community meeting with neighborhood groups in January (tentatively scheduled for January 27th from 5:30-7:00 pm.) and to do outreach with neighborhoods, Historic Preservation Commission and historic preservation consultant before the code is developed. Future public meetings and hearings will be advertised in the same manner.

Myth Busters


       Is this code being proposed/driven by the Realtors and Developers?

No, an infill housing code has been a priority of the City Council to replace previous infill codes – pocket housing and cluster housing – to respond to housing needs
The Planning Department is leading the effort with the help of an advisory committee and input from the community and neighborhood groups.

Is this a pro-growth agenda or similar to other states/cities that are eliminating single-family neighborhoods and zoning?
Coeur Housing is being designed to allow more housing choices than single-family detached and mid-rise apartment complexes.  As the city continues to grow, more choices are necessary to provide for-sale and for-rent housing options for community members, including our workforce, families, young professionals, and retirees.

Will Coeur Housing result in zone changes in my neighborhood?
No, It will not result in changes to the underlying zoning.

Will every residential lot or corner lot be eligible for Coeur Housing?
The committee is exploring the appropriate minimum lot size and maximum project size.  We are asking for community input on the size.

Is Coeur Housing the same as R-34 Special Use Permit?
Coeur Housing would be house-scale housing projects on individual lots.
R-34 requires a special use permit that requires a public hearing and is intended for larger apartment projects that are medium to high density residential projects, allowing up to 63 feet in

Is the code alreday drafted?
Staff is working with a committee and the group is in the information gathering stage.