Citizens give nod to code changes

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

July 22, 2006

The Hood River City Planning Commission took the first steps Wednesday to alleviate a growing citizen concern that new houses are “too tall, too big and too close.”

About 25 community members attended the hearing — and no one disagreed with the following four concepts:

* Limit the area of a lot that a single-family residence can cover to 40 percent, or 43 percent with a front porch and 48 percent with a rear garage.

* Allow landowners to build an accessory dwelling of no more than 800 square feet. The secondary unit could be used as a long-term rental to create more worker housing. Or provide private quarters for an aging or needy family member.

* Screen parking from public view in front of bed and breakfast establishments by requiring cars to be placed to the rear or side of the building.

* Provide neighbors with more of a voice about townhouse developments by allowing these structures only with a conditional use permit.

“I think this really sets the stage for what the public wants in the city. These are going to be some really substantive changes that protect our quality of life for the long run,” said resident Jurgen Hess.

Other community members echoed his positive comments. Only developer Brian Watts expressed concern about adding driveways, even from permeable materials, into the equation for lot coverage.

“This might have unintended consequences by not leaving enough room to put garages to the rear of the house — or to add an accessory dwelling,” he said.

After deliberating, the commission conceded that his concerns might have validity. So, they upped the credit given for the length of a driveway constructed of grasscrete, a free-draining paver, from 50 percent to 75 percent. Other permeable driveway materials would receive the 50 percent credit.

Watts is investigating whether that change will be enough to accommodate the typical building project. He intends to report back to Cindy Walbridge, planning director, if including driveways in lot coverage will result in more garages being built to the front of the home to create more lot room.

What’s Next

Zoning changes: The planning commission recommendations will be brought to the city council for review on Monday.

When and where: A public hearing is scheduled on the four proposed changes in the zoning code for 6 p.m. in the municipal courtroom.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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