City explores new code for Middle Housing development
As part of the City’s Housing Code Improvement Project, development code language is being considered that would allow smaller attached and detached housing types citywide. This project is one of many undertaken by the City in support of its goal to provide more opportunities for inclusive and diverse housing.
The City’s development code is the rule book that builders follow when they build any housing or structure. This proposed code is designed so that the houses built would be compatible in existing neighborhoods. It would also use City’s limited land inventory more efficiently as it grows in decades to come.
Much of the code specific to smaller housing options, such as cottages, duplexes and triplexes, does not exist in Hood River and many other cities and, therefore, is often called “Missing Middle” housing code. Staff began work on this project in 2020 and it is now before the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission provides a technical review of the proposed code amendments and its meetings are open to the public.
Discussions and input so far have focused on height standards, unit size limits, off-street parking, and landscaping requirements, and how to balance development size in a difficult real estate market.
The Planning Commission is expected to recommend final code language to the City Council in February. Prior to any final action, City Council will hold a public hearing and take testimony on proposed housing code amendments and recommendations.
“As staff has developed these code amendments, we’ve been mindful of tensions with developing Hood River’s housing market and the scale and affordability of many of these housing products,” explains City Planning Director Dustin Nilsen. “The intent of the code amendments is to allow the development of more middle housing types while recognizing and balancing for the impacts, both positive and negative, that result from residential growth within the City. Ultimately, if we are going to meet the housing needs of Hood River and provide more opportunities for housing, we will need the market to deliver more of these types of dwellings.”
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