Port Townsend eyes changes to housing code

Amendments to change modulation, maximum size of ADUs

PORT TOWNSEND — The City Council is considering a series of recommended amendments to the housing code that are intended to encourage a mix of development options.

Municipal code amendments, recommended by the city Planning Commission on Dec. 30, include modifications to design modulation, expanding the size of what’s considered an accessory dwelling unit, and potentially allowing duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes in the highest-density residential zone currently reserved for multifamily structures.

Development Services Director Lance Bailey presented the recommendations Monday, and the council could approve them as early as March 16.

The council also had a first reading Monday night of the city’s updated parks, recreation and open spaces plan, and it approved both a television cable franchise agreement with Wave Division III LLC, as well as a resolution to use a Jefferson County Public Infrastructure Fund grant in the city’s $300,000 Rainier Street regional stormwater project.

The housing code amendments come from a series of meetings with developers and residents who have addressed specific issues, Bailey said.

With modulation — a design element intended to break up the look of a flat wall as it faces a primary street — the recommendation is to expand from a maximum of 20 feet long to 30 feet, Bailey said.

One reason is to accommodate more manufactured homes, which come pre-fabricated and often don’t meet the code, he said.

“There’s only so much you can do to create modulation,” said Bailey, who pointed to examples in Bloomington, Ind., as well as Wenatchee.

“Interestingly enough, our code does not apply to [residential-III] and R-IV zones, and it doesn’t apply to multifamily,” Bailey said. “As our planning commissioners pointed out, it seemed like it’s opposite than how some other cities are handling it.”

He also said a standard city lot is 50 feet wide.

“The setbacks are five feet on one side and 10 on the other, so you get to choose,” Bailey said. “You have 35 feet left with your structure, typically.”

The Planning Commission also recommended an exemption if the structure totaled 1,000 square feet or less.

“This is a bulk-and-scale recommendation,” Bailey said.

In a similar fashion, the commission has requested an increase in size for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) from a maximum of 800 square feet to 1,000 square feet, and the recommendation would apply both to attached and detached ADUs.

“I think we need to be careful in terms of how large we allow them,” he said, adding 1,200 square feet is large enough for a three-bedroom house.

“When you look at a lot and there’s a primary residence and a secondary, you should be able to see the difference between the two.”

The city also is considering an allowance of single-family residences in the R-IV designation, although the structures would need to be at least duplexes for density purposes.

“You are required to build structures that have a minimum of five housing units, so essentially you are required to build multifamily,” Bailey said.

The city hasn’t had such a development since 2006, he added.

Additional recommendations include allowing a higher density for cottage developments and lowering the minimum lot size, and to delete the definition of family from the zoning code because it could potentially limit the number of unrelated people living in a single home to six.

Bailey said the family definition recently has become problematic in other areas of the country.

“You’d be hard-pressed to enforce it, but there have been some situations recently where some cities and counties have had situations where they’ve had these types of definitions in their code and it was used to prevent certain living situations from occurring,” he said.

Bailey cited college and border towns where larger groups of people might live in the same structure.

“It’s not uncommon now for cities to be taking this out of their code,” he said.

________

Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

More in News

Terry Ward
PDN publisher tells of struggles, charity during pandemic

Peninsula Daily News publisher Terry Ward discussed on Wednesday… Continue reading

Doug Milholland of Port Townsend invites people to join him in ringing bells, playing instruments and singing at noon Friday in support of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which enters into force that day. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
Port Townsend man celebrates weapons treaty

United Nations to declare nuclear ban prohibition

As motorists honked, Linda Abbott-Roe held up her message during the Inauguration Day celebration in downtown Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
Celebrants express relief, hope

Residents gather, bring signs in downtown Port Townsend and Sequim

Inslee vaccine plan raises concerns

While the state struggles to bolster its… Continue reading

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Clallam County Sheriff's Deputy Ray Cooper, left, anbd Detective Sgt. Eric Munger keep watch at the front entrance of the Clallam County Courthoiuse in Port Angeles on Wednesday to guard against potential disturbances triggered by the election of President Joe Biden. In response to the Jan. 6 storming of the White House in Washington, D,C., and threats of violence in state capitals across the U.S., county officials opted to increase security at the courthouse on Inaugaration Day.
Safe and secure

Clallam County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Cooper, left, and Detective Sgt. Eric Munger… Continue reading

COVID-19 vaccination clinics to be on hold next week in Clallam

Jefferson Healthcare expanding vaccine availability to 75 and older

Steve Downer and Brian Grad, both of Sequim, wave to drivers on Jan. 20 as they celebrate the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. “I’m relieved,” Downer said of the inauguration. He hopes their first steps will be to address COVID-19, the economy and environment.
Matthew Nash/ Olympic Peninsula News Group
Show of support

Steve Downer and Brian Grad, both of Sequim, wave to drivers on… Continue reading

Health officer: Clallam vaccinations speedy compared to rest of Washington state

While continuing to face supply shortages of COVID-19 vaccines… Continue reading

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, as their children Ashley and Hunter watch.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Biden takes the helm: ‘Democracy has prevailed’

President takes oath in peaceful power transfer

Most Read