Members of the Cannon Beach Planning Commission recognize the city needs workforce housing. But zoning amendments brought before them Feb. 27 are not the way to do it, they decided.
The commission recommended the City Council reject the changes intended to reduce barriers for private developers seeking to build affordable housing.
The amendments were intended to meet housing needs by reducing construction costs and subsequently reducing rental costs to tenants, wrote Martin North Vice President of Operations Dave Norstedt in January.
Mike Clark, owner of Coaster Properties, with former city planner Rainmar Bartl, proposed to amend parts of the code.
Amendments focused on reducing parking requirements to maximize the number of units on a property and increasing height restrictions in the R3 zone, which is designated for multifamily housing.
By raising the roof-line limit from 28 feet to 32 feet, developers could build three stories to include more units, intended to drive down rents for tenants.
Reduced landscaping area requirements and changes to condominium conversion rules for multifamily dwellings were also among proposals.
“To me there’s nothing in this that would assure this would be affordable housing,” Commissioner Lisa Kerr said. “The proponents are all people involved in development and commercial endeavors. That’s fine — but the way it’s written here is a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t think how any of this could lead to affordable housing.”
Commissioner Darryl Johnson objected to proposed roof-height changes. “Moving the height to 32 feet reminds me of going to Seaside,” he said. “We have a different feel in the city.”
Parking changes could make spaces harder to find, he added. “Lowering the parking in the units downtown where there’s already a premium for parking, lowering those standards doesn’t make any sense.”
Commission Chairman Bob Lundy said statutes should stand as written, with variances to create workforce housing considered on a case-by-case basis.
The commissioners recommended rejection of all amendments by a 7-0 vote.
“We’re looking for another alternative to this,” Kerr said after the meeting. “It’s not just a blanket ‘no way.’ I just don’t see any outside controls on this. Outside developers coming in and charging $1,600 for an apartment — that’s not affordable housing anymore.”