Port Angeles housing topic of public workshop today

Online event to include live polling

PORT ANGELES — City residents and business owners with an interest in housing development are encouraged to participate in a virtual workshop at 6 p.m. today.

The online event, titled “Building Residential Capacity in Port Angeles,” can be accessed from the city’s website, www.cityofpa.us. Click on the meeting announcement on the homepage.

The public workshop will include live polling that will help inform an update of the city’s 50-year-old municipal code.

“It’s really for people who care about what their neighborhoods look like, or what Port Angeles commercial corridors look like,” said Allyson Brekke, Port Angeles director of community and economic development.

“It’s really exciting stuff that we’re talking about.”

The city’s current zoning code has limited flexibly for builders and has been identified by some as a barrier to new residential and commercial construction, the meeting announcement said.

Meanwhile, the city’s population is expected to grow by up to 5,000 residents in the next 15 years.

“We have a limited land base, and we need to start using our land more efficiently and economically,” Brekke said in a Monday interview.

The seven-member City Council has identified housing as its top priority.

The online workshop will be hosted by city staff and a Seattle consultant, Makers Architecture and Urban Design, which the city hired for the land-use components of the larger code audit.

The survey will be available for two weeks after the online event, Brekke said.

“We’re really just asking the community what they feel comfortable with, because the reality is, of course, that when you change density in a neighborhood, it can potentially affect the character of the neighborhood,” Brekke said.

“It’s also just talking about the need,” she added. “We realize there’s a housing crisis.”

The city received a grant from the state Department of Commerce to support code changes that increase residential building capacity and to address the design of new commercial and residential development.

The project will include the adoption of a form-based code for five commercial zones that permit multi-family dwellings.

“Form-based code is the idea that you’re less concerned about the types of uses that are occurring in the building and more concerned about where a building is located on the property and how it looks,” Brekke said in a telephone interview.

“That’s the commercial component of this work.”

The code update also will increase the maximum number of lots available for short plat subdivisions and adopt an exemption for environmental review for certain residential or mixed-use infill development, the announcement said.

The city has a dedicated web page for the Building Residential Capacity project at www.cityofpa.us/1051/Building-Residential-Capacity.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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