City Council approves ordinance for the reduction of lot widths
The Newberg City Council has approved a resolution and the reduction of lot width requirements at the front of buildings in zones R-1 and R-2 at a hearing April 2. Councilor Stephen McKinney was the lone nay vote.
"This is one of the unintended consequences on reducing lot sizes, when we went from 7,000 to 5,000 (square feet) and I think it is not the best fit for people who are trying to buy homes in Newberg, who are trying to get out here and breathe a little and get some space. It is an unanticipated consequence of a poor decision. I vote no," McKinney said.
Newberg building contractor Del Boca Vista first requested the reduction at a Jan. 16 council meeting and it was approved by the council. The resolution reduces from 50 to 35 feet the minimum allowed width at the front of a building in a R-1 zone and from 30 feet to a minimum of 25 feet in R-2 zone.
"The building line front means a line extending parallel with and abutting the front of the closest building to a front lot line, the front line being that street," Doug Rux, city planner, explained. The required lot size would remain the same in square footage, but the result of the narrower front width would make the lot deeper. "It leads to a different design concept. Where the lots are narrower you may not have that side-by-side garage. You could have a single car garage, or you could have a double-deep garage. You may have a deeper back yard."
The reduction in parking emerged as a concern for the council. To begin with, Newberg's development plan lacked the proper length requirements for parking on local residential streets, nor is there in the city's transportation plan. City staff provided guidance and the parking stalls will be 18- to 20-feet long.
McKinney addressed another concern at the meeting: "Does this proposal hem us in on any of the solutions that we are thinking about when it comes to residential parking spaces?"
Current city code requires developers construct two parking spaces per home.
"It gets to where you position the driveways. In this concept, you can have one (car) in the garage and one in the driveway," Rux said. "The concept is narrower homes, driveway and back garage type of concept. Parking is in-between driveways and on the side streets where you don't have driveways going into homes in the R-2 zone. R-1 represents some similar designs: it allows for parking on the side street,"
Concerned with affordable housing, the council had questions for the developer.
"What is the rough price point?" Councilor Patrick Johnson asked a Del Boca Vista representative.
"With regard to the building width, the houses are not less in square footage, so pricing-wise it is not different," said Jessica Cain. "It depends on the market, materials and cost of construction. If we have 35 feet at the end of a lot, then we could add another house and could make the houses more affordable. We built two houses that were on 25-foot lots and the product was extremely popular and those sold from low to mid $300,000."
Homeowner associations and the enforcement of parking on narrow streets or in garages was also a hot topic at the meeting.
"Have you proposed the HOAs?" McKinney asked.
"Frankly HOAs are highly undesirable by buyers and they tend to increase costs through monthly maintenance fees and … dues," Cain said. "We find that they tend to create some turmoil and we try to stay away from HOAs and enforce CCNRs (covenants, conditions and restrictions). Those are enforceable to the extent that they want to enforce them against other neighbors. There is often a need for CCNRs in the kind of development we are doing."
In the end, the councilors recognized how difficult it is to bring down housing prices.
"I am planning on voting for the ordinance. … We have been trying to work with the affordable housing committee and we were aiming for the $250,000 price point, but we can't seem to get there. I would like to see the price point get there, but we are looking at a smaller lot to try to get there," Councilor Mike Corey said.