Questions about how I view housing density in Hood River, and how I see us growing have been asked several times. This matters as much to some people as the availability of affordable housing matters to others. I think the context of the question is, is it possible to achieve both?
My view is that we can find a balance that is correct for Hood River. We will have an increase in density. We can plan for that density to result in housing choices that will offer more options and maintain the character of Hood River neighborhoods. My concern is that we have failed to make incremental steps to ensure this happens. The danger we face now, after years of inaction (we’ve had a plan since 2015), is rushing toward the application of policies meant for larger cities and urban areas to our small town.
What do I mean? The city revealed a change of direction last winter and I wrote about it here.
This sounds great, right? Let’s understand exactly what it means. When a planner says “Missing Middle” housing, they mean up zoning. Missing Middle housing is an idea that has been pursued for larger cities. We do want some of it here, but maybe with some tweaks to better fit with Hood River. In our case there are two things we can focus on that will help maintain the livability of our neighborhoods.
- Open Space
It is important that we ensure that any new housing codes adopted in Hood River require that there is not an increase in parking demand placed on the surrounding neighborhood. In other words, new development must include parking. There may be exceptions to this, but that should be the rule.
Plans to account for parks and open space must be included in new development code to ensure that as we grow there will be neighborhood parks and trails for those residents.
That’s what I think about Housing Density.
If you would like more background information on housing, Engage the Gorge discusses housing here.