Call to Action: Support Affordable Density Changes in Port Townsend’s Zoning Code

June 25, 2020; Updated October 20, 2020

The Tiny Home Community – Housing Action Team (THC-HAT) has issued a policy paper and met with the City’s Housing Committee to ask them to consider zoning code changes that are supportive of tiny home communities.  

From a big picture perspective, the THC-HAT has endorsed the end goal of “affordable housing throughout all geographic and economic segments of the community” (Comprehensive Plan, Goal 2).  To achieve this, the THC-HAT has called for:

  • Removing restrictions in the zoning code that favor single-family over multi-family development; single ownership over collective ownership; and professional builds over self-builds.  
  • Increasing the housing types allowed on a single lot in single-family residential zones (e.g. duplexes and triplexes on a single lot instead of the current requirement for a double- and triple-lot respectively).
  • Incentivizing the building of affordable homes, not only by developers, but through self-builds and co-ownership.  

The policy paper [available here] focuses on policy approaches to removing zoning barriers to tiny home communities and other affordable density housing options. Specifically, the THC-HAT is recommending the housing committee consider two measures:  

  • Enacting a density bonus linked to dwelling unit size, and
  • Developing an ordinance that specifically allows for the development of agency-supported tiny home villages for the unhoused.  

These two recommendations should be addressed in separate emails as the Council will deal with them as two separate actions.  Also, please expand on the sample emails below as your own words carry more weight.   It is important to indicate in your email the meeting for which the comment is addressed.  

Please consider supporting structural change in the zoning code by writing Housing Committee Council members Amy Howard, David Faber, and Michelle Sandoval; Development Services Director Lance Bailey and City Manager John Mauro that you support these changes!  

Council Member Amy Howard    ahoward@cityofpt.us 

Council Member David Faber    dfaber@cityofpt.us 

Mayor Michelle Sandoval    msandoval@cityofpt.us

Development Services Director Lance Bailey    lbailey@cityofpt.us

City Manager John Mauro    jmauro@cityofpt.us 

This Call to Action is endorsed by the Tiny Home Communities Housing Action Team.

SAMPLE EMAIL on DENSITY BONUS

Comment for Council Housing Committee Meeting [DATE]

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have made the lives of people in desperate need of affordable housing in Port Townsend even more precarious.  I am writing to ask members of the Port Townsend City Council’s Housing Committee to respond to this crisis by considering housing solutions that address the roots of the affordable housing crisis, including removing barriers to affordable density in the zoning code.    

One such action that has been recommended to the committee for their consideration is enacting a density bonus linked to dwelling size that would allow for tiny home communities of three dwellings on a standard size lot. With a suitable density bonus, builders can spread the fixed cost of land and infrastructure across more units, allowing them to build smaller homes and compete successfully with land buyers who would construct larger homes.

I support a density bonus provision in the zoning code as an important step to creating affordable housing that includes tiny home communities, duplexes and triplexes on single lots, and co-housing of all kinds. I urge the committee’s members to act with reasonable haste in considering this change.   

Thank you for taking action, [NAME]

SAMPLE EMAIL on PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING ORDINANCE

Comment for Council Housing Committee Meeting [DATE]

The problem of homelessness is acute, complex and persistent.  Tiny home villages have emerged as a promising new approach to solving this problem. I am writing to indicate my strong support for the city enacting an ordinance that specifically allows for self-governed but agency-supported tiny home villages as transitional housing for the homeless.  

Transitional housing allows for stays up to 2 years in tiny homes as compared to the six months allowed in temporary encampments per Municipal Code 17.60.  The housing units would be built to the city’s IRC building code standards or other permissible standard.  To increase the affordability of this solution, the ordinance should allow for much higher density than currently allowed under the zoning code.  

Current experience with self-governed tiny home villages indicates their efficacy in terms of placing the homeless into permanent housing compared to top-down congregate shelters. They are also quicker and less expensive to build.  I urge the committee’s members to consider a tiny home village ordinance as the next step in solving the homeless crisis here in Port Townsend.   

Thank you for taking action, [NAME]