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Residential amenity area refers to spaces that are integrated into residential developments or the residential portion of mixed-use developments for use by the residents in the development.

A. Purpose.

1. To create usable amenity space that is suitable for leisure or recreational activities for residents.

2. To create amenity space that contributes to the residential setting and the quality of life enjoyed by the residents.

B. Applicability. Residential amenity space meeting the standards of this section shall be required for all new:

1. Multifamily development.

2. Mixed-use development containing residential units.

3. Senior housing and other age-restricted facilities.

C. Amount Required. Applicable developments shall be required to provide residential amenity space equal to a minimum of one hundred (100) square feet per dwelling unit.

D. Amenity Space Types. Table 2 lists the types of residential amenity spaces that may be used to meet the requirements in subsection B of this section.

Table 2. 

Residential amenity space type

Percentage of required amenity space

Cross-reference to applicable design standards

Common outdoor recreation areas

Up to 100%

SMC 14.214.430(E)(1)

Shared roof decks

Up to 50%

SMC 14.214.430(E)(2)

Private ground level open space (applicable only to adjacent dwelling units)

Up to 100%

SMC 14.214.430(E)(3)

Private balconies (applicable only to adjacent dwelling units)

Up to 25%

SMC 14.214.430(E)(4)

Shared indoor recreational areas

Up to 50%

SMC 14.214.430(E)(5)

Children’s play areas

Up to 50%

Required for developments with greater than 75 units; except for senior and age-restricted housing developments

SMC 14.214.430(E)(6)

E. Residential Amenity Space Design Standards. Alternative amenity space plans may be considered for the standards below pursuant to the deviation process in SMC 14.214.140, provided they meet the purpose of the standards and fill a recreational need for the residents of the development. The use and design of the space shall be integrated with the surrounding site and building features in a manner that is complementary to the development and any adjacent streetscape.

1. Common Outdoor Recreation Areas. These can include landscaped courtyards, decks, entrance plazas, gardens with pathways, children’s play areas, swimming pools, and water features, provided they are accessible to all residents of the development.

Design criteria include the following:

a. Common outdoor recreation areas shall be a minimum of five hundred (500) square feet. The space shall feature dimensions necessary to provide functional leisure or recreational activity (unless otherwise noted herein).

b. Vehicular circulation areas, stairways, and service areas shall not count as common outdoor recreation areas.

c. Areas shall be accessible to all residents of the development, and shall be located in areas that are visible from within the development.

d. Areas shall feature paths or walkable lawns, landscaping, seating, lighting, play structures, sports courts, or other pedestrian amenities to make the area more functional and enjoyable for a range of users.

e. Areas shall be separated from ground-level windows, streets, vehicular circulation areas, service areas, and parking lots with landscaping, fencing, and/or other acceptable treatments that enhance safety and privacy for both the recreation areas and dwelling units.

Figure 3. Common outdoor recreation area examples

Image A includes a combination of open lawn area for informal recreation plus pathways and decorative landscape areas to enhance the setting for residents. Image B is a courtyard that includes pathways, seating areas, landscaped beds, and semi-private spaces for adjacent ground level units. Image C includes a covered gathering space with outdoor grills adjacent to a landscaped commons with a central pathway. Image D includes a common green area and separate, fenced off-leash dog area.

2. Shared Roof Decks. These are flat portions of a roof that are used as a walkway or gathering area for residents of the building.

Design criteria include all of the following:

a. Shared roof decks shall be available to all residents.

b. The space shall feature hard surfacing and shall provide amenities that encourage use, such as seating, outdoor grills, and weather protection elements.

c. The space shall integrate landscaping elements that enhance the character of the space and encourage its use. Such landscaping may be in pots or planting beds.

d. The space shall incorporate safety features such as enclosures, railings, and appropriate lighting levels.

3. Private Ground-Level Open Space. This type of private open space shall be adjacent and directly accessible to the subject unit, and shall be usable space. Examples include yards, stoops, and porches.

Design criteria include all of the following:

a. Such open spaces shall be enclosed by a fence and/or hedge at least thirty (30) inches in height, but no taller than forty-eight (48) inches when adjacent to a street, common outdoor recreation area, or public space. Taller privacy screens may be provided between units.

b. Private porches that face a street or a publicly accessible common area qualify as amenity space provided they are at least fifty (50) square feet in area, with no dimension less than six (6) feet.

c. Ground-level, private open space shall be measured for each unit individually, and areas in excess of the minimum requirements shall not be shared with other units in the development (per SMC 14.214.430(C)).

4. Private Balconies. These are adjacent and directly accessible only to the subject unit and which provide all of the following:

a. Private balconies in mixed-use or multifamily developments should be at least partially recessed into the building façade to provide protection from the weather.

b. Balconies shall be integrated into the building design.

c. Balconies shall be at least thirty-six (36) square feet in area with no dimension less than six (6) feet to quality as amenity space.

d. Individual balconies shall be measured for each unit individually, and areas in excess of the minimum requirements shall not be shared with other units in the development (per SMC 14.214.430(C)).

5. Shared Indoor Recreation Areas. Examples include multi-purpose entertainment space, fitness center, movie theatre, kitchen, library, workshop, conference room, or similar amenities that promote shared use and a sense of community. All of the following design features shall be provided/met:

a. Common indoor recreation areas shall be a minimum of two hundred fifty (250) square feet in area.

b. The space shall be accessible to all residents of the development.

c. The space shall be located in a visible area, such as near an entrance, lobby, elevator bank, or high traffic corridors.

d. The space shall be designed specifically to serve interior recreational functions and not merely be leftover unrentable space used to meet the open space requirement. Such space shall include amenities and design elements that will encourage use by residents.

Figure 4. Shared indoor recreation area examples

6. Children’s Play Areas. These include playgrounds, tot lots, and play fields which meet all of the following design criteria:

a. Children’s play areas shall be a minimum of four hundred (400) square feet.

b. Safety measures necessary to protect children from vehicular traffic shall be included, such as low fencing or landscaping to provide a physical barrier around the perimeter of the play area.

c. Shade and rest areas for supervision shall be provided through the use of landscaping, architectural elements, temporary structures, permanent benches, or other means.

d. Play areas shall be designed for a variety of ages, activities, and motor skills.

e. Play areas shall be located in areas that are highly visible to residents. (Ord. 2425, 2022)