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

June 25, 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 as transitional housing for the homeless.

The impact on affordability of a density bonus tied to dwelling unit size is described succinctly in the report Character-Compatible, Space-Efficient Housing Options for Single-Dwelling Neighborhoods: “Without a density bonus, developers have no financial incentive to opt in to home size limits. With a suitable density bonus, builders can spread the fixed cost of land across more units, allowing them to build smaller homes and compete successfully with land buyers who would construct larger homes.” (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, 2016).  

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

Council Member Amy Howard  –  ahoward@cityofpt.us 
Council Member David Faber  –  dfaber@cityofpt.us 
Mayor Michele Sandoval  –  msandoval@cityofpt.us
Development Services Director Lance Bailey – lbailey@cityofpt.us
City Manager John Mauro – jmauro@cityofpt.us 
Please cc the THC-HAT – tinyhomes@housingsolutionsnetwork.org

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

SAMPLE EMAIL

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.    

Two such actions have been recommended to the committee for their consideration:  

  • 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 as transitional housing.  

I support these actions as important steps 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 these changes.   

Thank you for taking action,
[NAME]
[City of PT Home Address – Optional]