Mobile home parks allowed in more places

Mayor Jim Slowik’s promise of affordable housing is one step closer to fruition, although at least one council member is concerned it will place mobile home parks in residential zones that formerly excluded them.

The council voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve amendments to the Oak Harbor Municipal Code to allow manufactured homes in all residential zones within Oak Harbor’s city limits.

The changes will go into effect on a temporary basis, until a more in-depth review can take place. Council member Danny Paggao cast the sole vote against the amendments. Jim Campbell and Eric Gerber did not vote because neither attended the meeting. Campbell received an excused absence and Gerber remains on military leave.

Supporting the motion were Rick Almberg, Beth Munns, Jim Palmer and Bob Severns.

Prior to the council’s vote Tuesday night, manufactured homes were not allowed in R-1 or R-2, which includes single-family and limited multiple family residential areas with low to medium densities.

Steve Powers, city development services director, said the changes will remove regulatory barriers, make more opportunities available for affordable housing within Oak Harbor and accelerate construction of the city’s proposed affordable housing project.

“We think we can consolidate, clarify and streamline our policies,” he said of the amendments. “These regulations only affect new manufactured home parks, not existing manufactured home parks.”

The interim code allows for greater density in single-family residential zones, allowing a maximum of eight units per acre acre, according to the temporary code revisions.

According to Powers’ PowerPoint presentation, the amendments allow more flexibility in lot sizes and setbacks for affordable housing projects that utilize public funds and provides a density bonus for certain affordable housing projects in the R-1 district.

But Paggao remained uneasy about the interim code.

“I’m still concerned about allowing manufactured homes on R-1, single family residential,” he said before the vote.

“I ask that you don’t focus on the number of units, rather, how we hadle those units.” Powers said.

There will be more opportunities for public input, Powers said, adding that the planning commission will hold a public hearing April 28 and that other “minor amendments are necessary,” and will go before council at a later date.

The city took the first steps to create an affordable housing project through the passage of two agenda bills earlier this year at a January council meeting. The first bill deemed a 3.29 parcel of land “surplus,” which allows the city to sell the property and use funds from the sale for an affordable housing project. The second decision authorized the mayor to work with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County to use the proceeds of the surplus land sale to establish an affordable housing project on the north end of Whidbey Island.

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