Cottage moratorium extended

  • Brooke Fisher<br>Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:46am

SHORELINE — Before extending a cottage-housing moratorium for an additional six months, City Council members heard citizens’ comments at a Jan. 24 public hearing.

Although the majority of speakers did not favor the extension, it will give the Council time to tour cottage housing sites, assess issues of concern and conduct workshops and public hearings. Originally adopted Aug. 23, 2004, the extended moratorium will now end one year from the start date.

Resident LaNita Wacker said she opposed the extension because it is unfair to developers and potential buyers. She said cottage housing serves a need in the community, especially for single residents, widows and others needing low-income housing.

“If you extend this moratorium, you will deny builders the right to make a living,” Wacker said. “And deny citizens the right to buy an affordable house while interest rates are low.”

Resident Stan Terry agreed, saying cottage housing provides low-income housing for residents. He said the situation could be assessed without another six-month moratorium.

“You can examine the ordinance and make changes without a moratorium,” Terry said. “Periodically take a look and see if it is working.”

Resident Dennis Lee supported the continued moratorium. He said there are problems with the development code for cottage housing in regard to design standards. Lee said developers can take advantage of the current ratio for open space and end up with higher density designs.

Resident Patty Crawford said it would be a hardship to extend the moratorium until next August. She said it is largely an issue of code enforcement.

“Code enforcement is the downfall of all these projects,” Crawford said. “Cottage housing was overused and now the pendulum is swinging the other way.”

Resident Janet Way said design standards dictate if cottage housing is attractive. She referenced a cottage housing development on Greenwood Avenue and stressed that future developments depend on how standards are enforced.

David Fagerstrom said he favors other forms of low-income housing. He said cottage housing, like low-income housing, needs to be dispersed throughout the city.

Deputy Mayor Scott Jepsen noted that many of the comments were different than at the previous hearing, when many residents favored the moratorium and stressed that immediate improvements to cottage housing were necessary.

“It is interesting to hear the comments, it is contrary to what we heard last time,” Jepsen said.

Council member Rich Gustafson said he didn’t favor extending the moratorium for the entire six months. He did, however, support touring developments, assessing codes and evaluating the issue.

“I am not in favor of an August date,” Gustafson said. “I would like to see it concluded sooner.”

Council member Bob Ransom favored the extenesion. He said he has received e-mails and letters complaining about the zoning in R-4 and R-6 zones, which he said was an issue the speakers did not address.

Council member Paul Grace favored the ordinance, but not the timeline. “We should go ahead with Phases 1 and 2,” Grace said. “Then if we need more public input, we can have workshops.”

Council member Maggie Fimia supported the concept of cottage housing and said the Council needed to compile information to study any changes.

The original moratorium was enacted after public concern arose from neighbors to property in the 19100 block of Eighth Avenue NW, which is targeted for a proposed development of 16 cottage-style houses on 1.38 acres. The opponents said the development would not adhere to the character of the neighborhood, with a higher density and lower quality of housing.

Currently, cottage housing requires a Conditional Use Permit in areas zoned R-4 and R-6, and specific regulations for cottage housing are identified in the Shoreline Development Code, which include restrictions on the number of homes, setbacks, height limits, open space, floor area, building cluster, porch size and parking.

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