Friday, June 21, 2024

Friends of Lake Chelan present proposed housing solution to councilmembers


CHELAN – Steve Kline and John Olson of Friends of Lake Chelan presented a “Citizen Campaign to Promote Affordable Rental Housing in the City of Chelan” slideshow to City Council at the general meeting, Tuesday, Nov. 14 at City Hall. The presentation provided thorough and specific answers to the current dilemma for the lack of affordable housing.

“I know you have a full agenda,” began Steve Kline, “and I’ll try and speed through this for you, but it is a very important component and we’ve spent many months on this.”

 He commenced the presentation by first explaining why the team had initiated a citizen campaign on affordable housing. 

“The overriding premise of affordable housing is this,” he explained, “affordable housing will never emerge in an open real estate marketplace because the marketplace will always promote the highest economic value … affordable housing is done by the people and for the people to meet community needs …the most important part of this whole thing is a partnership between developer, city, landowner, and community is essential.” Kline proceeded, explaining the necessity of affordable housing in the community, providing statistics including:

Sixty percent (3,000 employees) of Chelan’s work force commutes from the outside areas (Comprehensive Plan’s Economic Development Plan).

At an average of $25,000 a year income, the result is a $75,000,000 revenue loss to Chelan, “people tend to spend their money where they live,” he emphasized, “not where they work.”

The wide-spread job vacancies create further economic loss.

He then moved on to explaining some results discovered from an informal survey conducted on personnel at the city, schools, parks, and service industry workers in Chelan. The survey disclosed that average income in the City of Chelan is net $20,500 or $1,700 a month. At the standard 30 percent of net wages segregated for housing budget, at the given standard income, this would allow $587 for rent, he explained then stated, “obviously there is nothing here for that … this could create a model for Chelan Valley and the State of Washington,” he said, continuing by pointing out the work force housing zoning that is currently included in the city planning process, and the lifetime opportunity to become “community heroes.” 

Models provided as examples of the low-cost, lower perceived density, and aesthetically pleasing “Missing Middle Housing” were provided, included images of varying styles of bungalow courts, side-by-side duplexes, and carriage housing. 

“The floor area ratio does not meet Single-Family Residential (RM) and Multi-Family Residential (RM) zoning standards,” he said, but rather used a form-based coding that allows up to 35 units per acre. This design, as described on the Missing Middle Housing website, creates “a moderate density that can support public transit and services and amenities,” and because of the smaller footprint of the designs, and typical placement of the housing, “the perceived density of these types is usually quite low … but one of the primary benefits of Missing Middle is that the neighborhood densities are often higher than 16 dwelling units per acre (du/ac) – the threshold needed to create a supportive environment for transit and neighborhood-serving main streets.” The missing middle plan, or fused grid, creates modular layouts similar to Savannah, Georgia; Austin, Texas, and even San Francisco, Calif., “that incorporate all the desirable elements – livability, safety, security, sociability, and delight,” as detailed on the website as well. The “attractive and homogenous feel will blend into a residential neighborhood without creating a ‘cell block’ or ‘not in my backyard’ feel,” Kline stressed. 

He described the “tenant criteria” for rental of the units, and referred to advice given by a past Sunnyside mayor stating to “stay away from government controlled plans.” The criteria would mandate tenants:

• Must work in Chelan

•Have income below $50,000

• Rents are indexed to state minimum wage

• Must conform with city work-force housing regulations

• 1-year minimum rental contract

• local police background checks (to establish crime-free housing)

• Maximum of two people per bedroom

“Very good,” commented Mayor Mike Cooney, “I will ask the council to consider taking this subject up with John (Olson) and Steve (Kline)… and maybe more to the point … we will discuss as far as a workshop discussion and have Steve and John come and elaborate, that way we can have back and forth discussions,” he then added, “but we applaud you. Way to get this thing started.”

For more information on the Missing Middle Housing mission, design, and affordability, visit or visit the Friends of Lake Chelan on Facebook at friends-of-lake-chelan.

Steve, Kline, housing, Friends of Lake Chelan


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