The White Salmon City Council approved a rewrite of the city’s mobile home zone code last Wednesday afternoon.
The changes to the code mark the first major revision to the White Salmon Municipal Code since the City first adopted the six-month moratorium on most residential development earlier this year.
City officials had cited the zoning code as incompatible with the city’s comprehensive plan, which was passed in 2012, and the impacts of the existing zoning code on livability in low-income and workforce housing as reasoning to halt such development.
The adopted mobile home zone code includes changes to development standards and stronger tenant protections provisions. Perhaps the most crucial change is the elimination of the development of site-built homes as a permitted use outright in mobile home zones.
Councilor Joseph Turkiewicz made the motion to approve the ordinance, which was passed by a vote of 4-0, one vote less than is standard due to a vacant council seat.
Further discussions on changes to the Municipal code on the topic of housing have been pushed back, like a public hearing on a draft ordinance regarding tenant protections, which was delayed until the late summer or early fall by a consensus of the council during their June 17 meeting.
Said City administrator Pat Munyan about the removal of such a permitted use, “ ... That’s what kind of concerned the administration is, so basically you could take a mobile home park district and turn it into a high-bred R1 subdivision, which is totally incompatible with the zoning and the intent of the zoning." He alluded to the city’s comprehensive plan of 2012, which cites a need for additional low-income housing within the White Salmon planning area.
“I think it’s important to recognize that, under law, our ordinances are supposed to reflect our (comprehensive plan),” Munyan said.
The adopted code also implements a new process for evictions through a change of use or a closure within a mobile home district.
Owners seeking evictions through such means under the adopted ordinance will now be required to draft a relocation report and a plan.
Among other provisions, the code under section 17.36.090 states:
“The relocation report and plan must provide that the mobile/manufactured home park owner will assist each mobile/manufactured home park tenant household to relocate, in addition to making any state or federal required relocation payments. Such assistance must include providing tenants an inventory of relocation resources, referring tenants to alternative public and private subsidized housing resources, helping tenants obtain and complete the necessary application forms for state-required relocation assistance, and helping tenants to move the mobile/manufactured homes from the mobile/manufactured home park.”
The White Salmon Planning Department would issue a final approval upon completion of the report, according to the text of the ordinance.
The text of the adopted ordinance remains largely unchanged from its draft form presented at the March 11 public hearing, in which the city’s planning commission and city council heard public comment. Other changes to the mobile home zone include allowing the development of tiny homes in a mobile home zone, requiring homes to be tied down, and the issuing of placement and building permits.
Council debated during the discussion portion about the prudence of adopting an ordinance this far out past the public hearing that was held to consider the ordinance back in March. City officials said they decided to act on the proposed ordinance that night because the moratorium is set to expire July 15, the date of the next council meeting. A question pondering whether the moratorium would still be in effect on the expiration date moved the discussion towards an approval.
“If you don’t do it now, then there’s certainly a risk that somebody will file an application before we can adopt another version of this,” said City attorney Kenneth Woodrich.
Councilor Ashley Post initially voiced opposition to passing an ordinance at that time, saying, “My concern is just that ... we are resurrecting this topic after several months of not discussing it, and we didn’t receive any public comment today.”
City Clerk/Treasurer Jan Brending responded by saying the city had received public comment from the prior public hearing in March, and that the city had been in contact with the landowners to discuss the changes.