Port Angeles City Council OKs multi-family housing tax exemption

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council has approved a property tax exemption to give developers more incentive to build multi-family housing.

The City Council voted 5-1 last Tuesday — with Cherie Kidd opposed and Michael Merideth excused — to approve the measure by ordinance.

“I’m excited to see some applications come in,” Deputy Mayor Kate Dexter said.

Kidd said she liked the concept of a tax break to spur multi-unit housing but voted no because the ordinance applies to the entire city.

“I’m just concerned that we’re starting with such a large footprint, and that’s the only reason I’ll be voting no,” Kidd said.

“I think the concept is great.”

State law allows municipalities to waive property taxes to encourage housing development in cities that lack sufficient housing or affordable housing.

Developments with four or more dwellings will be eligible for the eight- to 12-year tax exemption.

The city ordinance does not permit apartments or other high-density housing in low-density zones.

City staff will administer the program and charge a $1,000 application fee.

Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin urged his colleagues to remove a section of the ordinance that would cause the tax exemption to sunset in three years absent future council action.

“Do we put a sunset in all of our regulations?” Schromen-Wawrin asked rhetorically.

“It’s all about housing. This is the first thing we’re actually on the verge of passing about housing, and we want to put a three-year sunset clause in?”

Council member Jim Moran agreed, saying the application deadline may discourage some from participating in the program.

“We can’t afford not to let people in on this if they want to be in on this,” Moran said.

“I feel like three years is a tight timeline,” Dexter added.

“It’s going to take more than a few projects to meet the demands for housing in our community.”

After debate, the council removed the sunset clause from the ordinance but kept a provision that requires the city to re-evaluate the program after the fifth tax exemption is granted.

The tax exemption is allowed in Chapter 84.14 of the Revised Code of Washington.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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