Tonight, Tuesday the 19th, the Planning Commission will hold a formal Public Hearing on some new code for multi-family housing
, especially for modest Missing Middle triplexes and fourplexes, and larger Missing Middle forms up to 12 homes. At nine pages the Staff Report
is manageable, as is a two page summary, but the proposed code itself is over 400 pages of material. The devil's in the details and without specialist knowledge, you have to trust the City's summary.
Alas, in too many cases the City has shaded truth or misrepresented things, and it's not always easy to trust them. So, it's hard to say really how good is the proposed package of changes.
On the surface, the changes seem good, if timid. HB 2001 (see below) will almost certainly call for another round of adjustment and change.
Small plexes that fit into the neighborhood fabric easily will conform to more of the standards for existing single detached homes. This is a move for continuity and for historic norms.
There's also a modest reduction in off-street parking requirements, which drive up the cost of building.
Details on lot coverage, lot size, and setbacks could still plug up the works, however. I haven't seen any informed comment on those details, and maybe there will be more to say after the Hearing.
It would be helpful for the City to provide more concrete detail in pictures and case histories. That preview image above shows three Salem projects, but does not have any discussion of ways they exemplify problems, solutions, or illustrate any part of the proposed new code.
|On HB 2001|
As framing, the Staff Report buries HB 2001 a little under "additional considerations," perhaps since the code changes were initiated before HB 2001 was passed. But now that it will be law, the City should consider leading with HB 2001 and making that more centrally part of the framework for analysis and debate.
Fourplexes are going to be legal, no matter what! The City should be clearer that this is coming down the pipeline and we should want to start preparing for it.
Over at LUN, people involved with the neighborhood associations have talked a little about the proposal, and I want to argue with a number of their claims and observations.