The realization that Washington needs smaller lots and smaller new houses is beginning to settle in with officials. A subcommittee of the Planning and Zoning Commission is tackling the issues that hopefully will lead to changes in the subdivision code.
The goal is to provide affordable housing to silence the “I can’t afford to live in Washington” syndrome.
As one developer remarked at a recent meeting of the subcommittee, “If you build a smaller house, it sells right away.” Housing developers apparently are waiting for changes in the code to get moving on affordable homes for young couples, which also are known as starter homes.
The composition of the subcommittee working on this issue is composed of city officials, realtors, bankers, developers and engineers. Mayor Sandy Lucy is backing the committee’s work. She said when the change was made to 10,000 square feet for lot sizes in subdivisions, new housing starts declined, and that resulted in a lower rate of population growth, in effect denying young couples the opportunity to live in the city they prefer. This is a reality.
A drop in allowable lot sizes to 6,000 or 7,000 square feet would be acceptable. We have developers who build good homes. We are not worried about the quality of smaller homes. What would sell are new homes in the price range of $150,000 to $250,000, according to realtors and developers.
A fact that has to be recognized also is that property, open ground, generally is high. Developers need to compensate for that by being able to build homes on smaller lots to keep the price affordable. Annexation would open up more land for possible development.
This subcommittee’s work is essential to the well-being of Washington. For too long we have denied young people their desire to live in the city. It’s time to open the doors!