Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Planning Commission to see Proposed Middle Housing Code

Tonight June 1st the Planning Commission will discuss the proposed HB 2001 compliance code amendments for middle housing.

Intro to Staff Report

The report is over 100 pages, mostly just code with additions and strikethrough. It's a bunch of technical blah-blah-blah.

The intro and summary is very minimal, and does not explain very much to anyone who doesn't already understand the technical details.

Lot sizes and setbacks

What are the practical effects of lot coverage requirements and setbacks? At some point they combine to make certain building configurations impossible or impractical, and it is at least theoretically possible to say "we have legalized fourplexes" at the same time as the lot coverage and setbacks make them very difficult.

And given all that we know about the deleterious effects of parking, why do we continue to insist on minimums?

Still mandating costly parking minimums

On the surface it looks like the City is meeting the minimum in compliance with the new middle housing law, but is not going beyond them to encourage housing abundance.

We'll see. Maybe there will be more to say after the work session. (There is already one NIMBY letter entered into the record, saying "Infill building is a horrible idea in already established neighborhoods," etc.)

The Planning Commission convenes tonight at 5:30pm.

1 comment:

Susann Kaltwasser said...

I listened to the Planning Commission meeting. What I came away with is that there is a lot of complexity and you have to look under multiple chapters in order to know what is possible to build on a lot. But there are some overarching issues that need a lot of discussion.
First, the movement toward not requiring parking on individual lots, may or may not actually happen, because developers might decide that to make their property acceptable they will need to provide some parking.

Second, there is a movement to reduce setbacks. That is good only up to a certain point. You want some setbacks so that you can provide for green spaces and you need to be aware that buildings need some separation due to fire prevention rules. Row houses would likely be limited to no more than 100 feet in width (about 2 standard lots side by side with a zero lot line in the middle would be possible. But then you have to ask, would we have parking in the back? How to get access?

Third, figuring out what something might look like is almost impossible as there are very few drawings or photos. So, you are left to try to understand charts and disjointed text. Even the PC members were struggling to wrap their minds around the proposed codes. How could the public?

Fourth, the most important thing that is left out of the discussion so far is the process for how applications are approved. Under current proposal there is NO PUBLIC PROCESS. If an applicant can meet all of the design codes and does not need a variance, all decisions will be made by staff. This means no notification to neighbors within 250 that we normally have and no hearing, not appeal and no evaluation as to compatibility with the area.

The biggest question for me is will the public be comfortable with letting their property values being impacted by others and having no recourse?