The White Salmon City Council and the Planning Commission are preparing to hear public comment about potential updates to the municipal code on mobile home zones.

The joint public hearing is set for this evening, 5:30 p.m. at the White Salmon Fire Hall. Participants are expected to be allotted 3 minutes to speak, while written comments are also being received by City officials until 5 p.m. this evening. If you have questions or would like to submit a written comment, email City Clerk/-Treasurer Jan Brending at janb@ci.white-salmon.wa.us by the deadline of 5 p.m.

City officials have explained that they are considering the updates to reconcile inconsistencies between the long-term goals established in the City’s 2012 comprehensive plan and their implementation through zoning development regulations. In an executive summary of the measure at hand, city officials write that since “the land use elements of the White Salmon Comprehensive Plan sets the direction of future growth in a community and is specifically controlled and implemented through zoning development regulations… zoning development regulations must be [consistent] with our Comprehensive Plan as required by WAC 365-196-800.”

The main grievance within the City’s current code on mobile home zones City officials have cited, including Mayor Marla Keethler, is the outright permitted use of “individual single-family residential dwellings including site-built homes and manufactured homes” in mobile home zones. City officials charged, in an executive summary, that by permitting site-built home development in this zone, it is in effect allowing development of housing that is incompatible with lower income levels, which the zone is trying to support. They argued that since the code does not limit the amount of site-built homes within a mobile home zone, and that there are no stipulations providing for an affordable housing threshold, tenants who are displaced from their current housing situation may struggle to find alternatives within the City.

To combat this, the Planning Commission will review a potential reworking of the current code, including multiple amendments which would place additional requirements for the development of such zones. While the Planning Commission is not expected to decide on the proposed amendments tonight, once they do decide to recommend policy language, that language will be sent to City Council for further review and to ultimately decide whether to approve the language for adoption. Mayor Marla Keethler then would either sign the language into law or veto it.

Proposed changes to the code include the following.

One amendment would completely strike the principal use outright to develop site-built homes in mobile home zones, while another would require all mobiles to be tied down according to manufacturer specifications.

The proposed code also describes in greater detail the minimum standards of development within mobile home zones. Another amendment also contains stronger eviction requirements, in that owners who are seeking to evict tenants pursuant to a closure or change of use would be required to file a “relocation report and plan” with the City for approval before they begin the eviction process. The relocation report and plan would be required to contain certain criteria, such as copies of all lease and rental agreements, a confidential list of current monthly housing costs and gross annual income for each mobile home park tenant household “to the extent mobile home park tenants voluntarily make such information available,” as well any actions owners will take to assist tenants to relocate to alternative housing options. It also allows for an appeals process and contains provisions for closure and government sponsorship.

Another proposed change would require that every manufactured or mobile home receive permitting from the City and a HUD and Washington State Labor and Industry inspection tag. The proposed code would also allow for tiny homes, as defined by the State of Washington, to be built within a mobile home zone.

A draft version of the City’s Mobile Home Zone Code as well as an executive summary of the proposals can be found on the City’s website at www.white-salmon.net/bc-pc/page/public-hearing-proposed-amendments-wsmc-1736-mobile-home-residential-district

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