Community Coalition discusses Florence’s housing code update

The overview explained that the update of the new code is still being discussed and modified by the Planning Committee and city staff

Sept. 7, 2019 — The Florence Area Community Coalition (FACC) offered a general update on the re-write of the City of Florence’s Residential Housing Code to the community at the group’s September meeting. The presentation was given Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. in the Bromley Room of the Siuslaw Public Library.

Florence real estate agents Brian Jagoe and Aric Sneddon joined City of Florence Planning Technician Dylan Huber-Heidorn to give brief presentations to the small crowd in attendance.

Jagoe, who is on the City Planning Commission, and Sneddon, who serves on the Community and Economic Development Committee’s Housing Code Update Sub-Committee, are both involved with the ongoing update to the City of Florence Building codes.

However, Jagoe was clear in his opening remarks that he was speaking as a private citizen, not as a member of any city entity or as a spokesperson for local realtors.

The overview presented by Huber-Heidorn explained that the update of the new code is still being discussed and modified by the Planning Committee and city staff. He also recounted the previous steps in the rewrite process, which is entering its final stages.

The Planning Commission is finalizing details to the revised code and will be meeting soon with Florence City Council to discuss approval of the updated code. After that, the city will review the suggested modifications and enact some type of major revision to the current code.

The process for revision was undertaken because the current regulations have been criticized for the difficulties it presents to builders interested in developing housing in Florence.

During the panel discussion, Jagoe and Sneddon brought up some unique issues regarding the anticipated needs of current and future residents. Among those was the importance of building different types of housing for the changing demographics of the area.

The age difference between the two men seemed to play a part in their differing views of the community’s housing needs.

Sneddon was representative of the area’s younger demographic while Jagoe was speaking from the perspective of the area’s retirees.

Jagoe also seemed primarily focused on the importance of retaining the ability to build single-family dwellings and suggested that there was a coordinated effort to eliminate the single-family dwelling designation statewide.

“I like selling single-family dwellings. My clients like single-family dwellings, and they want housing with two- and three-car garages, and a place to park their RV. These are big selling points for many home buyers. I think there is a place for multi-family housing, but I don’t think we should follow the Portlanders and make it difficult to build single-family units,” Jagoe said. “I am afraid if they have their way, eventually we will not be able to build single-family dwellings here at all.”

In support of his position, Jagoe offered the recent change in the statewide building code, codified in HB 2001, which would require cities with a population of 10,000 or more to allow duplexes to be built in areas zoned for single-family dwellings.

Sneddon, who, in addition to his other work, is involved with Florence Habitat for Humanity, sees the housing needs of the community differently than Jagoe.

“On the flip side, we see a lot of people — especially in the millennial age range — who are not interested in a yard. They want the most house they can have on their lot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a 2000-square-foot home, because they don’t want to clean it,” Sneddon said. “They want a home to own, a home to come home to, but they want to go on a hike, and they want to kayak and go fishing and go for a run. They don’t want to come home and clean their house, mow their lawns and take care of their flower beds.”

Sneddon also mentioned that many of Florence’s current residents have aged since buying the home they live in and have no need for the larger lots and the upkeep that goes with a yard. He believes these buyers are limited in purchasing a smaller place to live by the lack of smaller, less expensive and lower maintenance properties.

“There is no place to downsize to, because we don’t have that mixture of housing,” he said. “In the past, someone may have wanted an RV garage and now they haven’t had an RV for five or 10 years, because they haven’t wanted to drive it anymore. So, they have an RV garage that is a barn.”

Another problem that organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) have in constructing housing in this area is the high cost of land in the Florence area. Purchasing a piece of property and using that investment to ultimately house one family is not an efficient way to provide homes for the greatest number of people, according to Sneddon.

“We can’t allocate resources for a single-family home on a single-family lot. We want to serve those people, but the way we can best serve those people is by a cluster option and by building smaller homes for a greater number of families,” he said.

There is Planning Commission meeting tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 5:30 p.m. at Florence City Hall, 250 Highway 101.

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The Florence Area Community Coalition meets the first Wednesday of each month from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Siuslaw Public Library, 1460 Ninth St.

These meetings are open to the public.


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