PORT ANGELES — The City of Port Angeles plans to eliminate 25 building permit fees for 15 types of housing and impose new performance measures to see if the fee-elimination approach will have its intended effect of spurring new housing development.
The city council approved an ordinance at its Nov. 8 meeting intended to address housing development needs. The vote was 5-2, with council member Charlie McCaughan and Deputy Mayor Brendan Meyer voting no.
The performance measures will be developed by city staff in conjunction with developers and others in the housing industry.
The fees will be eliminated Jan. 1 and subject to a 10-year review.
“Housing is the top priority of the City of Port Angeles,” City Manager Nathan West said. “This ordinance stands as a key element of our broader efforts to innovatively promote infill, affordable and multifamily housing development.
“Taking this step will not only brighten Port Angeles’ financial future, it will also directly improve the feasibility and viability of new housing unit construction,” he said.
“Permanently waived permit fees are a major step forward, and we are proud to be the first municipality in the state to embrace this approach.”
The ordinance includes several changes to city policies to create incentives for new development while improving the city’s permit review processes.
One change is the elimination of 25 building permit fees for 15 types of housing under certain conditions. The idea is to make housing development more accessible and affordable for residents, builders and developers, the city stated in a press release.
Building permit fees will be waived for single-family homes built through a recognized non-profit, local, state or federal low-income homeownership program, such as Habitat for Humanity. The prospective homeowner must contribute labor to the construction as part of the program.
Eligible residents include those whose gross annual income is $64,640 or less. That represents 80 percent of Clallam County’s area median income of $80,800.
While the ordinance was being developed, city council members discussed the need for a hardship assistance program for residents who wish to modify their existing single-family homes. So, city staff will present a draft of that program to the council sometime next year.
The program will be targeted toward current residents making $64,640 or less annually. It will consist of limited fee waivers, deferrals or reimbursements for remodeling or expansion of single-family homes.
City staff also will develop next year a proposed permit fee reimbursement program for building new, affordable single-family houses within the city limits. It will be targeted toward residents making $64,640 or less annually and who qualify for reimbursement under the affordable housing sales tax program.
Passed by the state Legislature in April 2019 as Substitute House Bill 1406, the program allows cities and counties to impose a local state-shared sales tax to fund affordable or supportive housing. The tax is credited against the 6.5 percent state sales tax.
When developers build one of the 15 eligible housing types in Port Angeles, the city will waive the following 25 fees:
• Building permit
• Review of building plans, fire plans, planning plans and public works siting plans
• Additional hourly rate fees
• Fire development
• Hearing examiner
• Archeological review
• State Environmental Policy Act environmental checklist review
• Boundary line adjustment
• Conditional use permit
• National Environmental Policy Act environmental checklist
• Adoption of previous NEPA and SEPA documents
• Land use verification
• Locate notice review
• Lot confirmation
• Overlay zones
• Short plats, plats and binding site plans
• Parking variance
• Temporary use permits
• Zoning lot covenant
• Residential new water service connection charges and system development charges
• Electrical utility service charges
• Sewer connection permits/charges
• Storm sewer/drain connection charges
• Electrical permits
• Multifamily tax exemption program application
Building permit fees will be waived by the City of Port Angeles for single-family homes that are built in the city through a recognized non-profit, local, state or federal low-income homeownership program, such as Habitat for Humanity.
The prospective homeowner must contribute labor to the construction as part of the programs. Eligible residents must make $64,640 or less annually.
The eligible housing types are the following:
• Accessory dwelling units
• Cottage housing
• Caretaker units
• Apartment complexes
• Multifamily housing
• Group homes
• Permanent supportive housing
• Transitional housing
• Emergency housing
• Adult family homes
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.