Development codes for manufactured homes are getting an update in John Day, but several concerns were raised when discussing a proposed amendment.
John Day City Manager Nick Green said during the planning commission meeting on Nov. 18 that a general trend accelerated by COVID-19 sees people from major metropolitan areas now looking for suburban, rural and frontier communities.
“We’ve seen an increase in 1031 exchanges, and people are moving real estate dollars from developed areas to John Day ... and as you are aware, we’ve seen more commercial development applications in the last year than we’ve seen probably in the prior 20,” Green said.
Last year, the city did a comprehensive plan update that included the city’s housing market assessment, which identified a deficit in housing for higher- and lower-income people and for workers. Green said the city has to accommodate for additional housing to address the issue.
The city wants to ensure they can provide a mix of housing and that standards and code requirements are up to date. Green said the new requirements will apply to new developments and not to the existing parks unless there is a substantial change in expansion for a unit.
“The primary purposes of this amendment are to clarify the code language, establish consistency with state and federal codes, and to incorporate requirements that future developers provide basic standard-of-living amenities for residents,” states the staff report for the amendment.
Kenneth Katzaroff, an attorney from Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt, representing Riverside Home Park, said while they don’t have an issue with the amendment, they were concerned with several pieces such as the minimum floor plan size requirements and issues related to needed housing and clear and objective standards.
“Anytime we tighten the screw a little bit (new restrictions or code changes), it makes things more expensive and development a little more difficult,” Katzaroff said. “We just wanted to say that one of the ways to spur economic growth is to do it safely and correctly, yes, but to also be thoughtful about the amendment we put in place.”
Patti Rathbone, an investor in Riverside, agreed and said growth is good, but people have to think about the residents who live at Riverside.
Liz Aleman from the planning commission had a concern regarding the minimum square footage for the play area for new manufactured homes. The staff report listed the minimum square footage at 2,500 square feet for a play area, but on the May 12 planning commission minutes, a minimum of 5,000 square feet was identified.
Aleman said it was a substantial reduction. She favored maintaining the the 5,000 square foot minimum.
Green said the city would incorporate the changes the commission recommends and redraft the ordinance. The plan is to present it to the planning commission again Jan. 12.