Annual Missoula Zoning Code Updates

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The Missoula City Zoning Code, MMC Title 20, was adopted in 2009 with the intention that every year it would go through a round of amendments and/or modifications to keep pace and respond to changes, keeping current with City guiding policy and best practices. This process of regular review and updates allows staff to collect potential amendments and propose changes in an efficient way while also complying with all the amendment procedures set forth in Chapter 20.85 of the zoning code.

This project supports the City’s strategic framework by continuing to refine and clarify land-use regulations that provide predictability for developers who share our goals and vision as well as implementing recommendations from the Housing Policy and collaborating between divisions to create clear regulatory alignments.

This latest round includes 40 proposed amendments that cover changes to rules for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs); additional coordination between zoning, engineering and building rules; updating the conditional use process; consolidating notice requirements; and various miscellaneous items as well.

This page provides a number of ways to learn about and engage with this process as it moves forward.

  • The side bar to this page provides links to the existing zoning code and a list of the changes that are being proposed. Also included are a timeline and key dates for this process, a Follow Project tab that allows you to be notified any time a change is made to the page, and contact information for who is working on this project in Who's Listening.
  • Below, you can also submit your comments on this project directly through this page. Other ways to submit comment include contacting the project planner directly (see Who's Listening), or send written comments by mail to 435 Ryman St, Missoula, MT 59802.

The Missoula City Zoning Code, MMC Title 20, was adopted in 2009 with the intention that every year it would go through a round of amendments and/or modifications to keep pace and respond to changes, keeping current with City guiding policy and best practices. This process of regular review and updates allows staff to collect potential amendments and propose changes in an efficient way while also complying with all the amendment procedures set forth in Chapter 20.85 of the zoning code.

This project supports the City’s strategic framework by continuing to refine and clarify land-use regulations that provide predictability for developers who share our goals and vision as well as implementing recommendations from the Housing Policy and collaborating between divisions to create clear regulatory alignments.

This latest round includes 40 proposed amendments that cover changes to rules for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs); additional coordination between zoning, engineering and building rules; updating the conditional use process; consolidating notice requirements; and various miscellaneous items as well.

This page provides a number of ways to learn about and engage with this process as it moves forward.

  • The side bar to this page provides links to the existing zoning code and a list of the changes that are being proposed. Also included are a timeline and key dates for this process, a Follow Project tab that allows you to be notified any time a change is made to the page, and contact information for who is working on this project in Who's Listening.
  • Below, you can also submit your comments on this project directly through this page. Other ways to submit comment include contacting the project planner directly (see Who's Listening), or send written comments by mail to 435 Ryman St, Missoula, MT 59802.

Submit Public Comment

You can submit public comment on the proposed zoning amendments right here. (You must be registered with Engage Missoula in order to do so). The preferred deadline for public comments is July 17, 2020 

There are a number of proposed amendments, so please be clear which one/s you are referring to in your comments. It will be easiest for us to know what you are commenting on if you refer to the list of proposed amendments in the Document tab in your comments.

You need to be signed in to comment in this Guest Book. Click here to Sign In or Register to get involved

This Zoning Code does not need an annual review and amendments. The public gave their opinions on these matters in 2009 and Missoula is in the same housing situation and traffic situation it was then. We specified that owners MUST live on ADU properties. Do not change that! That will not help Missoulians, only those who want to live elsewhere. Also, with 1,000 new units being built behind Cracker Barrel and 200 over the Scott Street bridge why would you EVER consider eliminating the required off street ADU parking? Traffic is going to be even MORE of a mess, parking at the U even MORE of a problem, so who in the world are you helping by putting more parked cars on the streets? The council claims they want to help Missoulians but every policy you approve, every property you buy with TIF funds, every street you close for more bikes/pedestrians, just makes it harder for us to live here. Please stop trying to accommodate outsiders over your own constituents.

DWilson about 2 months ago

I want to second HS Maclay's very thoughtful and well reasoned objections to this spurt of new changes to the Auxiliary Dwelling Unit changes. I want to emphasize the way the City Council and the Planning Office are sneaking in changes that would have caused an insurrection when the first resolutions were proposed. It is a kind of bait and switch deal. We won't cause changes that will devalue the neighborhood now but will leave open the possibility of making changes in the future. The future,, apparently, is now. For example, it is now proposed that owners of Auxiliary Units not live in the main house, a compromise that assured neighbors that the owner who monitor the behaviors of renters in the alleys. I strongly object to this change, Frankly, I am tired of fighting the Office of Planning and the City Council on their attempts to decrease the quality of life of those who live in the University District, Missoula's showcase development where home owners work diligently to maintain the quality of their properties. RBHausmann

Robert 3 months ago

As both a citizen of Missoula who works in the development industry I frankly see some validity to both sides of the argument regarding ADU units. The intention of the ADU is a good thing for rental housing affordability and a valid alternative to high density rental projects around the fringes of the urban core. However, opponents to ADUs have a valid argument that when mismanaged, and ADU can become a source of blight in a neighborhood rather than an enhancement. Therefore the following are my thoughts on the proposed changes to ADU regulations. I believe that the occupant ownership clause should remain in effect. We cannot legislate appropriate behavior, but actually cohabitating with one's ADU and its occupants goes a long ways towards incentivizing personal responsibility for the impact to the neighborhood. I don't believe that the deed restriction on an adu property presents any significant problem for resale. These are private properties and the owners of said properties need to assess this risk and live with the consequences when they chose to build an ADU. As far as adu's being removed from the rental pool with no public benefit when properties turn, I would be very surprised if this scenario makes a meaningful impact on the overall rental scene in Missoula. Owner occupancy most importantly prevents overzealous, and often absentee landlords from cramming yet more people onto marginal lots. I agree that rentiers are a significant contribution to the lack of affordable, owner occupied homes in Missoula and I don't think they need this tool to bolster their investments. This is especially relevant to the investors who are/will use ADUs as a tourist homes. Absentee landlord plus tourist home isn't a scenario I would want in my neighborhood.Parking is often the single largest deterrent to development of an ADU, but depending on the neighborhood, waving the parking requirement is a guaranteed path to conflict with the neighbors. While I agree that one day we will need less parking, today is not that. I encourage the planning process to take a closer look at the impact of parking on ADU development. Until a better solution is available I support the current requirement for a single, offstreet parking space.I have no issues with 22 ft max height revision or elimination of the minimum square footage. These were frankly a stupid clauses in the first place that have no relevance to the concept of the ADU.Conversion of existing structures seems adequately addressed by current zoning and building regulations.

Missouligan 3 months ago

I fully support the amendments as they are proposed for Accessory Dwelling Units. Missoula has a great opportunity to increase density using this tool.

hpj 3 months ago

Welp this ship has sailed! Can’t wait to not be able to park and pay more for rent so out of state and local rich landlords with multiple rental properties can get extra AirBNB income.meanwhile 20 million people are facing eviction and we live in the city with the 33rd largest income disparity in the country... great... thanks for the 40 revisions to the zoning policy during a the height of summer while you’ve diminished public commentary to something that comes from a screen or a website. I challenge the city council and mayor to go back to in person meetings and truly open it up to the public again. We CAN safely accomplish in person meets that as other counties have. As far as this topic is concerned:1. I echo the earlier complaints of unreasonable gutting of the EXISTING ADU and Zoning. They do not need these updates. The housing policy isn’t broken or antiquated it’s city government that is. You’re not seeing much participation here because people have by enlarge given up on talking to city council and the mayor.This is a classic bate and switch maneuver by the city. We adopt the A Place to Call Home “plan” and then proceed to gut the entire zoning history of the city. They Approved putting 48 condos in the new “urban core” that was part of the downtown “plan” the city even gave the developer 15,000 SF in right of way to do it. These “plans“ seem more like Trojan horses with lip service to the actual big issues on the outside and complete disregard for the Extra strain on the services, historic character, tax consequences and other resources of the areas these plans effect. Remember we’ve been told recently that we can’t possibly pay for roads as is, now let’s put twice as many cars in the university district for instance and see what effect it has on the roads... Next the city will decide you drop the minimum lot sizes in Missoula to 1500’ 2. I oppose Allowing ADU’s to be constructed on non-owner occupied housing will increase speculation and SPIKE RENT and REAL ESTATE prices further. The yearly permit helps regulate that.Google “increased real estate taxes for ADU’s in Portland” ~51% taxable value increase on every lot that built an ADU. If the current Missoula city government would quit employing the failed tactics of every other major city and start listening to its citizens that would be great. We must stop pandering to mega developers and the ultra rich. $320k is the median home price currently for a home in Missoula. How many people on city council are renters even, I wonder?1500 people spend up to 3-5 years on the housing voucher list waiting to be placed...On average 1500 people or more move to Missoula every year. Adding a bunch more AIRbnb/income properties to line the pockets of the rich landlords and real estate agents of this community isn’t something we need to encourage.

Matts Larson 3 months ago

This is another example of the ignominy and duplicity of this city's governing council. I have lived here nearly forty years and never been convinced that the interests of the citizens have been fully heard. Our mayorlistens and gives his word and is unfaltering in his honesty. The city council, on the other hand, has had a few good leaders and many who distort facts and the truth. This is called lying. We were told ADU's would be limited to certain strict conditions. Now this council is proposing changes that go directly against the wishes of most of us and the promises made by the city council. I am attempting to sell my home and leave Missoula. Good luck on the ruinous policies you make now and in the future. If I were any one of you who have betrayed this community with false promises, I would be ashamed. However, I doubt you have the inner, guiding veracity to recognize your own shameful moral turpitude.

Philip Perszyk 3 months ago

Hi. I got a note requesting comments on the Title 20 update. Here are some Accessory Dwelling Unit comments. If Missoula thinks home ownership is worthwhile, keep the ADU ownership requirement. If Missoula cares about neighborhood harmony, keep the ADU parking requirement. With their present ownership and parking requirements, ADUs encourage home ownership and help keep it affordable. Without the ownership provision people who want to buy rentals because they give them income, compete with people who want to buy themselves a place to live. The rental income people can afford to pay more than the place-to-live people. It's tough for owner-occupied to compete. More people means more cars. Ignoring that leads to conflicts. The parking requirement doesn't eliminate the problem, but it addresses it somewhat. My comments are bulleted, below.2. ADU - Section 20.45.060B.3; remove the annual permit requirement for an accessory dwellingunit. Renumber remaining subsections appropriately. • If the owner occupation clause is kept, and I hope it's kept, keep this. It helps track compliance.3. ADU - Section 20.45.060B.4; remove owner occupancy requirements for an accessory dwellingunit. Renumber remaining subsections appropriately. • The owner occupancy requirement ◦ Promotes owner occupancy ◦ Keeps home prices down ◦ Makes owner-occupied homes somewhat affordable ▪ Income from the ADU helps pay their bills ▪ Competition with a rental business increases prices4. ADU - Section 20.45.060B.10; remove parking requirements for an accessory dwelling unit.Renumber remaining subsections appropriately. • As density increases, parking competition increases. Want neighborhood harmony? At least keep the parking requirement5. ADU - Section 20.45.060B.11; remove the minimum square footage requirement for AccessoryDwelling Units. • Not opposed.6. ADU - Section 20.45.060C.3; limit the height of accessory dwelling units to 22’. • Not opposed.7. ADU - Section 20.45.060C.5.b; remove the term “by-right”. • Not opposed.8. ADU - Section 20.45.060D; remove this section on existing illegal accessory dwelling units.Renumber remaining subsections appropriately. • Haven't examined this, but I'm not opposed.9. Parking - Section 20.60.020C; remove the requirement of an additional parking space for anaccessory dwelling unit, and change terminology from “subsidized” to “affordable housing”. • Combined with other proposals, this adds more people with no provision for cars. People bring cars. Keep the parking requirement.Thanks for the opportunity to comment. Stay safe.---ed

EdChilders 3 months ago

The parking requirement should consider the surrounding needs. For example, we live across Lowell Elementary, and street parking is essentially non-existent during business hours.

skinnyblackdog 3 months ago

I oppose most of the changes suggested by theTitle 20 Update Amendmedments.20.25.030 A. 1. d. Affordable Housing. The old language was specific and clear.20.45.060 B. 3. a-c. Regulations for ADUS. You've gutted all permit regulations which kept track of compliance.20.45.060 B. 4. Owner occupancy of the main dwelling ensures that renters behave in accordance with the neighborhood standards.20.45.060.B. 10. Parking is a HUGE problem everywhere in Missoula. One paved off-street parking place is NOT too much to require for a unit that could have several drivers living there.20.45.60 D. Existing Illegal ADUs "This section of the code expired in 2014 and is no longer relevant." Was any action taken prior to 2014 to deal with non-compliant ADUs? No? Is that why it is not relevant?20.85-2 All changes to a neighborhood should be noticed in the newspaper, by posting, by mail, to residents within a 150' of the change.

TabethDancingBear 3 months ago

1. Stop doing annual updates. We tire of having to monitor them. These are not easy reads, and it takes time and gumption to decide to make comments.2. These are the dog days of summer and COVID-19, so the lack of comments should not be taken as support for the amendments to the zoning code.3. The Request for Public Comment emailed out doesn't give the public proper notice that significant changes are proposed. It says: "This year’s package proposes 40 amendments and include changes that will:- Help implement the recently adopted Missoula Housing Policy;- Coordinate inter agency regulations;- Update the Conditional Use process to focus more specifically on the proposed use, rather than specific design details;..."Problem is that one has to know the the code words and the zoning code and process already to make sense of the notice. And one particularly has to divine that the Missoula Housing Policy adopted a year ago is now being implemented almost globally throughout Missoula, with unknown consequences for taxpayers and neighborhoods. We were told it was just a "policy" and just a "plan" but key components are now being implemented. The most problematic is the implementation of the plan to have dense development without providing for and keeping up park lands and open areas for those who are crowded into their residences; without sensitivity to the history of Missoula, neighborhood character, and, especially, historic areas and components. Instead of valuing those aspects of the community, they are being judged as so last century as to be useless in this one. While we hear the community's and MRA's glee about the owner stripping 1960's facing from an East Main building, exposing the historic granite and wonderful facades, these proposed zoning changes determine that such results will be only accidental. One has to read the actual document to learn that the carefully crafted ADU regulations that were hot button issues when adopted, are being eviscerated. We agreed to the conditional use ADUs on the express conditions that the main property be personally owned ( vs. non-resident landlords for both the main house and the ADU); would be affordable because the site owner would be able to afford to construct the ADU and would use income from it to contribute to costs of the main house); would have their own off-street parking; would not be taller than the existing main structure; would be permitted annually and therefore reviewed by the City for zoning compliance; would not be tourist rentals; and would be conditional uses for which neighbors got notice and possibility of input. I object to the elimination of all these requirements. It is particularly important that ADUs not be permitted without any thought to impacts on Missoula's historic districts. Although we cannot compel people to maintain their historic structures, we should not intentionally encourage "investors" to purport to create affordable housing while destroying the character, charm, attraction, tax generation of our historic district sites. It beggars belief that an occupant of an ADU will not rely on a car given the lack of alternative transportation available at all times. Permitting the density of use of a site to double without providing for parking will degrade existing neighborhoods; make it difficult for existing residents to safely park on the already clogged streets; will make it difficult for visitors and workers to come to existing residences; and induce people to illegally park, use areas meant as open space, grasslands, play areas, etc. and encourage those who see a parking spot to grab it and guard it. I am most familiar with the Hellgate High School and University district, which is on the sharp divide between being kept as an historic district, an attraction for visitors to Missoula, and tipping over into renter land managed by those who have hundreds of units. Although some residences closest to the University are given permits for on-street parking (which I support) the rest of us must find parking on the street in competition with high school students and (we hope returning) college students. I encourage you to limit and strictly regulate tourist homes. The market for tourist homes can overtake any "affordable housing" created by ADUs and the main houses associated with them.Helena Maclay

HSMaclay 3 months ago

Thank you for taking the time to review and update our outdated zoning code.First, please consider replacing the current, outdated municipal code which creates driving-dependent communities and replace it with Form-based Code or a hybrid of Form-based Code and Conventional Code (as Missoula County has done).Conditional Uses - Amend 19 - regarding the "elimination of specific elevation and landscape plans prior to approval" - in a recent public meeting regarding stormwater, staff stated it would be helpful if a complete site evaluation was done before a site design. Removal this requirement may end up taking more time and resources when a site design ends up not fitting a site because of elevation, stormwater and green infrastructure requirements.Amend 22 - "more general approach to review" - Please do not remove staff or city council review and "encourage" developers to "consider" plans and policies. Developers already do not keep up-to-date with nor follow city policies and plans. They already know the loopholes and work hard to exempt themselves from green space and complete streets. Their bottom line is always the largest return on their investment rather than spending more to do right by the city's health and plans. Relying on developers to keep up-to-date with and follow city plans and policies is unrealistic and a conflict of interest.20.85.070 - I. Factors to be Considered - Please do not exchange city council review for staff and public comment. A third party unbiased review (city council) should serve as a balance between opposing sides. Development can be argued for and against using the city's Growth Policy and current zoning regulations. Both staff and the public can have biased or myopic viewpoints where the city council should consider the big picture and ensure the Growth Policy is adhered to.Rezoning process - this is not part of your update; however, the rezoning process also needs updating. Any city process that removes public comment or city oversight during development is antithetical to the Our Missoula Growth Plan. Thank you for your time and consideration.

KHS 3 months ago

I appreciate the emphasis on ADUs addressing affordable housing, and the simplification of the requirements for building one.

J2brdie 3 months ago

I appreciate all of the updates to the ADU code. I feel these revisions will increase density and rental options without encouraging scraping and redeveloping of our neighborhoods. My only hesitation is that I feel a rework of the "tourist home" code needs to go along with the ADU updates. Easing the process for ADU development will most likely result in an increase in "tourist homes". It has been clearly shown that "tourist homes" degrade neighborhoods, decrease housing stock, undermine our local hotels (including loss of jobs and tax revenue), and ultimately raise property and rental prices. Please consider further restrictions or an outright ban on "tourist homes" within city limits to go along with the ADU revisions.

Just This Guy, You Know? 3 months ago

Great work on the Title 20 changes. I particularly appreciate how the changes apply to all neighborhoods equally. Zoning equity is a key feature of the Citywide Housing Policy, and Equity is also one of the five elements of the City's new strategic decision-making framework.

DannyTenenbaum 3 months ago

Re: Amendment to 20.40.135(C)-I have no objection to moving the notice provision, but what is the point of telling the neighbors that a party (a/k/a "Tourist") house has already been approved next door? At that point, the important part is either maintaining a data base for the unfortunate neighbors (who were there at the time or move into a residential neighborhood assuming it's residential, not someplace with turnover approaching hotels) to be able to find, and complain to, the responsible party. Additionally, Tourist Houses are not the same character/quality of use as owner- or longer-term rental residences and should not be permitted in residential areas, or should have minimum 3-6 month leases in order to be of a minimal residential character. Limiting the location of tourist houses to mixed use/commercial areas (they are the up-scale equivalent of single-unit hotels) will 'free up' housing for longer-term renters, albeit at reduced profits but will also reduce the demand for "houses" designed with short-term tourist desires/luxuries as the owner's target market. You won't coordinate with Missoula's Housing Policy until you clip that albatross' wings.Re: 20-45-60 amendments loosening accessory dwelling criteria - While a cheap/fast way to get plenty of garage conversions and 'cottages' in the long term it will be an access/engineering/aesthetic disaster and will make more reasonable conversion to higher density and in-fill even more cost-prohibitive because of having to buy the income-producing units and tear down more structures. Also, you aren't going to address the shortage of affordable housing until you prohibit using ADU's as AirBnB or VRBO (which hurt the availability of housing and ruin the residential character of a 'residential' zone. (And ADU's allowed to be used as tourist houses/AirBnB and VBROs actually DO need parking.)Re:20-85-070 Amendments (esp. H(2)(a)(b) and (g)-Does nothing to promote additional housing and affordable housing because it not only continues the NIMBYism factors but the requirement to functionally "match" what's already there prevents diverse populations from moving in (if they can't afford the 2500 sq ft single-family home on lot stretching from street to alley or more). The 'character' of the neighborhood should be based on the purpose--if it's residential, it should allow a reasonable range of any size/density of residence, whether it "matches" what the existing property owners have or want. It preserves what's there for the benefit of who's there, but is also sclerotic and privilege-ensuring.

GreyWorld 3 months ago

Great work on the regulations about ADUs, these are all needed changes. Too long the city has sided with NIMBY homeowners that oppose density, even though it is the only way to bring about more affordable housing. ADUs are affordable units that don't require any wildlands being developed, or roads being built. The people of Missoula will benefit from additional ADUs, and the price of housing will fall if more are built.

HikeFishSki 3 months ago

In order to equitably advance a just Missoula Housing Policy, Missoula should follow the path of Minneapolis and eliminate all single family zoning and replace SFR with duplex or two unit zoning. This would have the practical application of opening vast amounts of parcels to more residential units. Plus, and just as important, it will advance an expression that all of Missoula must share the burden of providing housing for more people, rather than pushing in-fill housing into less privileged neighborhoods. Eliminate all single family residential zoning, now. ---- Additionally we must change the language of 'parking minimums' to 'parking maximums' in order to move toward a mindset of creating urban landscapes where actual people live and reside, rather than landscapes and structures devoted to storing cars.

John Wolverton 3 months ago

Thank you for finally addressing the density issue through revising the ADU regulations! The city of Missoula does not have much room to expand, and the best way to reduce sprawl and simultaneously improve the air quality in the valley is to build more apartments and ADUs. Not to mention reduce Missoula carbon footprint, and create more affordable housing in the valley. Thanks for your hard work on this!

5thGenerationMissoulian 3 months ago

I deeply support the proposed changes to the ADU policy. We recently finished building an ADU on our property, but now feel stuck, because we are required to live on the property, but my wife will be giving birth soon and we don't have a bedroom for the new baby. We'd like to rent our house, but the current rules require the owner to live on the property now that we have an ADU.As for parking, our ADU was built in our garage space, which is turning out to be a real pain. The city required three off street parking spaces, which required us to asphalt roughly half of our backyard. The two parking spots in front of our old garage/new ADU cannot be used because of current setback regulations, so we were required to replace our beautiful and large backyard garden with three large asphalt spaces. I hardly think this is what city residents really want, but this is what the current regulations require. Thank you,Keith Miller

arthur.miller600 3 months ago

By passing codes to limit parking and encourage biking the city is merely passing parking issues onto law enforcement. People do not have adequate vehicle parking in the City and since we live in MT, biking occurs in spring and summer ratger than wonter months. In addition with a college campus, reducing parking in residential creates chaos when multiple college students with cars rent residential units

CO55 4 months ago