City staff say small dwelling units would have provided affordable housing in Estacada

Earlier this week, the Estacada City Council said "no" to an amendment that would have allowed for the creation of accessory dwelling units.

Though some councilors were in favor of the amendment, it was ultimately denied 4-3 during a meeting on Monday, Nov. 13.

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs)are either attachments to an already existing house or small units detached from the original building. If the amendment to the city code had passed, ADUs in Estacada would have had to comply with design and building code standards.

City councilors had previously considered the amendment during meetings on Sept. 11 and Oct. 9.

The concept had been introduced as a potential way to bring affordable housing to Estacada. Though houses are being built in Estacada's new subdivisions, the majority of them may be unaffordable to some people.

"What we hear from (developers) is that it's not cost effective to build anything other than $350,000 houses (in Estacada)," City Manager Denise Carey said during the council's discussion.

Economic Development Manager Matt Lorenzen described ADUs as "one (potential) tool in our toolbox."

"They're not a silver bullet, but they're one way to add to our affordable housing industry," he said during the meeting.

Councilor Justin Gates expressed skepticism about introducing ADUs through an amendment, and wondered if they belonged in the city at all.

"I don't think the seven of us should decide for the entirety of Estacada. It should go to a vote," he said. "I don't understand why we're opening a door to something that really doesn't fit Estacada."

Mayor Sean Drinkwine, who voted against the amendment, called for more opportunities for citizen education on the subject.

"I have no fear that ADUs will work for our city. My fear is pushing it through before our people know what ADUs are all about," he said. "I don't feel good about (the amendment). I don't think my citizens are clear on what ADUs are.

We need to give them time to accept and understand before we say we're going to pass this."

Several other amendments to the city's development code, which were originally included with the amendment for ADUs, were pulled out into a separate ordinance which did pass at the Nov. 13 meeting. These other amendments are as follows:

¦ Amend the development code by adding additional definitions for terms such as greenhouse, a structure with transparent or translucent vertical walls, and hoophouse, any non-rigid, transparent or translucent structure, often constructed with PVC pipe and polyethylene.

¦ Amend Chapter 16 to remove height restrictions for vegetative fences, which were previously limited to six feet. Other types of fences taller than six feet will require a permit.

¦ Amend Chapter 16 to clarify transparency requirements for buildings in the downtown zone. As previously outlined in the code, ground floor buildings should have at least 60 percent transparency on street-facing elevations, and upper building stories should have at least 40 percent transparency on street-facing elevations. The amendment to the code clarifies the ways in which these percentages should be calculated.

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