City seeks ways to tighten review process

November 19, 2005

The Hood River City Planning Department is taking a hard look at three major growth issues.

Cindy Walbridge, city planning director wants to review the existing standards for building heights, minimum lot sizes and off-street parking requirements.

While she and staffers are undertaking that task, the processing of development applications will be slowed down. For an indefinite period of time, Walbridge wants to look at new proposals only by appointment. She wants staff to have one week following the submission of plans to notify the landowner whether or not the proposal is accepted for processing.

She said the city often makes decisions within 30-40 days after an application arrives at her desk. But the law grants the city 120 days to complete that process.

“This will allow us to spend more time with each application. And find time to develop some new ordinances,” said Walbridge.

On her immediate review list is completion of guidelines for construction in heritage neighborhoods. She wants to get those standards to the City Council by the end of December.

In addition, Walbridge plans to write more definitive language into the following codes:

* A determination on how big a residential lot size should be – and how much of the property should be covered by a home. Walbridge said many citizens are complaining that the city is losing all of its yards and neighborhoods feel “too dense.”

The current building code allows construction on a 5,000 square foot lot within 10 feet of the rear property line, 5 feet from both sides (not including the overhang for eaves) and between 10-20 feet from the front.

* Increased landscaping standards around the downtown and Heights business districts. In addition, off-street parking is likely to be required for new construction in these areas.

* A more exacting guideline for the height of new developments along hillsides. Walbridge said landowners will likely need a building permit to add large amounts of fill – and a surveyor’s certification of the existing grade.

Walbridge intends to have updated versions of these land-use codes before the city council sometime in the near future.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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