City focuses on Housing Code improvements
Providing a greater mix of housing to meet different income and generational needs is a goal on the 2020 Council Work Plan. The purpose of the City Council Housing Code Improvement project is to consider code changes that would allow for a broader mix of housing types citywide. These smaller housing types are designed to blend into existing neighborhoods and may include cottages, cluster housing, townhomes, duplexes and triplexes. Many configurations of these housing types are not allowed outright under current City code.
This year, the City contracted Sera Architects of Portland to provide prototypes for buildings that fit middle housing types in Hood River and will recommend how the City could make building smaller houses easier. This type of form-based design outlines characteristics for various housing types to blend into neighborhoods. For example, development standards for cluster housing may include height limits, setbacks, and maximum building footprint per home.
Standards may be different to adapt to different neighborhood characteristics. “Having standards outlined would offer greater clarity and clear and objective outcomes rather than discretionary land use processes with an unknown outcome,” explains Planning Director Dustin Nilsen, who is working with Sera Architects. When the middle housing drafts are complete, public hearings will be scheduled during the Planning Commission process to review recommended code revisions.
An updated report on housing in Hood River was completed earlier this year. The housing update concludes what many already know: population growth continues, and housing has become less affordable. Hood River continues to have a need for housing at all income levels and specifically affordable to households earning less than $75,000/year.
Multiple housing related goals and projects have been completed in recent years including modifying the ADU code to reduce barriers to development, updating townhouse codes, promoting the reuse of historic buildings downtown, regulating short-term rentals and acquiring land for affordable housing.
For more information on this issue and recent housing studies, click the “Accommodating Housing in Hood River” link at cityofhoodriver.gov/planning/. Updates are outlined in ECONorthwest’s report, “Housing Market & Demographic changes from 2015-2019.” The document supplements the City’s 2015 Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) that describes Hood River’s housing market and demographics in-depth.
For questions, please call the City planning department at 541-387-5210.