Tight living quarters a worry

SNOHOMISH — A Seattle-based real estate company wants to create a new type of affordable housing.

The city is considering allowing city codes to include “apodments,” which are akin to a rooming house.

Coho Real Estate Group hopes to open one of the living spaces at a rundown, two-story house near Snohomish High School, at 402 Ave. E. Monthly rents would be around $400 and $500.

“We feel there is a need for affordable housing in Snohomish,” said Chris Koh, Coho developer and property manager.

The company owns and runs apartments and apodments complexes in Everett, the University District and Olympia.

But the plan is upsetting neighbors, who argue that the proposal would hurt the character of the neighborhood, which is zoned for single-family homes.

The planning commission is set to hear public comment on the zoning change at its April 3 meeting.

Coho Real Estate Group’s proposal calls for 25 rooms in the building at about 200 square feet and include a bathroom. Tenants share a common kitchen and a laundry room.

Koh said he is willing to meet with neighbors to show how his company oversees their properties. Tenants come from people who are already living in the community.

Still, neighbor Ardie McLean, who lives a block from the property, has heard negative reviews from other properties managed by Coho. She worries that apodments chiefly attract people without any investment in the community.

“I don’t want to see this at a single-family zone and near a high school,” McLean said. Convert it into something already allowed, she said. “Have a condo for six or eight people, max.”

She hopes to gather 100 signatures on a petition opposing the proposal in time for the hearing.

Koh declined to comment what would the company do if the city does not change its city code.

Currently, the planning commission is working on two proposed ordinances about the issue.

According to city code, a living unit is required to have its own kitchen. One of the ordinances would allow rooming houses with shared kitchens, and the second would allow the city council to decide if rooming houses, such as apodments, are appropriate in areas zoned for single family homes, planning manager Owen Dennison said.

The ordinance also limits the number of tenants by how many parking spaces are available. In this case, there are about 15 parking spaces, he said.

The house has been vacant since 2008. Previous owners were trying to renovate it to make it a assisted living facility, Dennison said.

So far, the city has heard more from people against the idea, city manager Larry Bauman said.

The city has no stake on the issue. It is just trying to find a solution to fix a building that neighbors describe as an “eyesore.”

“The incentive for us is trying to find a use that allows the owner to maintain and prevent the decay of the property,” Bauman said.

The planning commission hearing is set for 7 p.m. April 3, George Gilbertson Boardroom, 1601 Ave. D.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez @heraldnet.com.

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