The Washington Planning and Zoning Commission has endorsed zoning code changes in a move many people hope will lead to more affordable housing in the city. It is a move that should make Washington more developer-friendly.
The city has suffered for years by having code provisions that were too restrictive to build new housing that would be attractive and affordable to people, both young couples and seniors. It is a move to erase the often-heard remark, “I can’t afford to live in Washington because housing is too expensive.” Instead of Washington, people went to other nearby communities that had less expensive housing.
This move isn’t going to result in a rash of inexpensive, substandard housing or subsidized housing. The codes still are restrictive enough to prevent that from happening. The code changes call for a new R-1D, single-family residential district with minimum lot sizes of 7,500 square feet, 60-foot-wide frontages, and 6-foot-wide side yards. That’s a reasonable requirement. In the current R-1B, single-family residential districts, the lot sizes will drop from 10,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet in areas with similar lot sizes with specific boundaries. No changes were made in street and right of way width standards.
The commission plans to look at amending the planned unit development (PUD) code to permit smaller lots within an approved development based on the overall zoning, be it R-1A (10,000 square foot lots) or R-1D.
Public hearings will be held by the city council before it votes on the changes. Proponents of the changes are optimistic that homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 price ranges will be built. Realtors and developers have said that is a price range that would be affordable to many people. Large lot sizes result in higher development costs and result in a higher cost to the buyer.
The proposed changes are needed and are reasonable. There is a need to put an end to the “I can’t afford to live in Washington” situation.