The coalition of developers, contractors and realtors presented a strong case to the Washington Planning and Zoning Commission to amend city codes to pave the way for more marketable housing in the city. The appeal was overdue but not too late to stop a trend that has forced people to go elsewhere to live even though they would rather live in Washington.
The coalition wants to put an end to the “I can’t afford to live in Washington” situation. Applause is due the coalition for bringing this matter to the forefront of city leaders.
The coalition is not asking for major surgery to the codes. Actually, the members are seeking minor changes that will not injure existing property values. But the changes will benefit the entire community by providing marketable housing to meet the demand, especially of young couples.
It also is important in job creation. In addition to the construction jobs these developments provide, companies seek locations where there is adequate housing available at marketable prices.
The coalition pointed out that the factors that affect the cost of housing include raw ground costs; lot sizes; infrastructure costs; street pavement widths; and demand. We need to relax the lot size requirement and pavement widths. Washington is too restrictive. We should be encouraging housing developers rather than discouraging them. Experience has shown that smaller lot sizes that Washington once had did no harm to existing housing.
We need to be realistic and recognize the ills in the code that have closed the door to housing developments. We have listened to the elitists for too long, some of whom grew up here in homes on small lots, began their families in affordable homes on lots smaller than what the code calls for today and they survived, along with the housing that’s older today but still occupied.
The city should welcome developers and contractors who want to provide marketable housing here. At the same time, there must be recognition that annexation is vital to Washington’s future.
The commercial developments here the past 10 to 15 years have been remarkable. Our hat’s off to those developers. The city worked with them and it’s time now to work with housing developers. We know the financing is available. We continue to move forward in industrial development. Our transportation infrastructure needs are being met.
Our downside is a lack of marketable housing and too slow progress in adding land to our municipal limits. The Planning and Zoning Commission received the coalition’s report in what appeared to be open minds and support for its position. Housing is an issue that must be addressed. Relaxation of the codes is a must.