Grant to aid plans for housing

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PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council has unanimously accepted a $100,000 state grant to put toward development of affordable housing.

The Housing Action Plan Improvement (HAPI) grant from the state Department of Commerce will go toward preparing pre-approved and permit-ready design plans for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), duplexes and small lot homes.

The funds also will be used to update the city’s development planning, permit fee and utility connection charges to incorporate deferments or waivers for the development of affordable housing units.

The hope is that these activities will support the city’s top priority of addressing housing by increasing residential building capacity and decreasing construction costs.

“With this grant, and after completing our monumental residential building capacity zoning amendments last year, we will not only develop an ADU design manual but we will also work on duplex and small infill lot home design,” said Emma Bolin, interim Community and Economic Development director.

“The reason for including different housing types is even with ADU pre-approved plans in place, homeowners may still struggle with site design, such as utilities and setbacks,” she said.

“We’re hoping that, by adding duplex and small lot designs, there’s going to be more incentive to subdivide and create these lots and build new homes frequently used for the ‘missing middle housing,’” Bolin said.

The project is expected to build off current land use codes and the code work the city adopted earlier this year for commercial zoning districts, allowing for residential development.

Council member Mike French noted that $100,000 for housing might seem to be a small amount to members of the public since it is not enough “to build a single house.”

It “seems like a drop in the bucket, but what this is hopefully going to do is unlock the private sector to do what it does best, which is build houses and make money on them, ideally.”

Mayor Kate Dexter spoke about the other aspect of the grant, which is aimed at cutting utility connection costs among other development fees to make the homes more affordable.

Together, she said she hopes the action would reduce “enough barriers to create a place where there is some real incentive to build those things,” Dexter said.

tennis courts

In other action, the council also unanimously approved a grant application for a project to repaint and relight the tennis courts at Erickson Playfield.

For the last two years, the city has worked in partnership with the Peninsula Tennis Club (PTC) on a project that would meet the requirements to receive a state Recreation Conservation Office (RCO) grant.

The project, which will cost $200,000, will be partially funded through the grant but also through $10,000 collected through the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) fund, which will be added to the city’s 2023 budget.

Simultaneously the PTC is looking to raise $10,000 to meet the 10 percent match requirement.

In the past, the city has received over $1 million in RCO grants that have gone toward lighting at Civic Field, the synthetic field at Volunteer Park and the new pump track at Erickson Playfield.

City officials will find out in October if the city is once again a recipient of the grant and how much it will receive.

Council members also discussed setting up a joint meeting with Clallam County regarding the Joint Public Safety Facility.

No firm date was set for the meeting, but city officials are aiming for the end of May.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].