Monday, July 15, 2024

EDITORIAL: Cities take strong steps with growth issues

| June 28, 2024 1:00 AM

The artist’s rendering was compelling.

There on the front page of The Press, attached to an article about Post Falls City Council opening the door to tiny home developments, was a picture of a beautiful little white house that just about anybody would love to call home.

Why, the pristine setting even included a V-wing of Canada geese soaring overhead in the background.

If you saw that and thought, “I could live there,” supporters of the tiny home movement will have succeeded in spreading the gospel of smaller, far more affordable living spaces as a partial solution to the region’s housing crisis.

That's a hard conclusion to argue against.

Tiny homes, in this case, must be under 800 square feet. It’s a designation one step from cottage homes, which are between 800 and 1,400 square feet and were added last year by the city council as potential accessory dwelling units acceptable within city limits. 

While nobody will talk about specific pricing until actual projects come forward, there’s little doubt tiny and cottage homes will scratch some serious workforce housing itches.

The city’s ordinance also prohibits cookie-cutter, portable units while ensuring there’s adequate green space to keep these new neighborhoods attractive. 

It isn’t just people in the starter-home market who will be interested in these positive Post Falls housing steps. 

Retirees unable to downsize because of lack of inventory would have attractive new options, which in turn would free up their larger homes for growing families to purchase. Part of any workforce housing solution includes ways for valuable employees to stay here, and availability of larger but not outrageously priced homes would be high on that wish list.

As Post Falls addresses growth issues logically, so, too, is the Coeur d’Alene City Council. 

In recognizing the devastating impact on community that serious alterations and destruction of historical structures creates, the council agreed to a six-month moratorium "on demolition and moving permits and building permits for significant exterior alterations, for buildings, excluding residential, located in the Downtown Core Zoning District, and Downtown Overlay, Northside, and Downtown Overlay, Eastside, Districts and buildings listed on National Historic Register."

This important pause creates a buffer that will allow citizens to weigh in while city officials consider ways to move forward, respecting property owners’ rights without eradicating structures that make Coeur d’Alene so wonderfully unique.

Well done to both cities’ leaders for tackling these important challenges rather than getting caught up in the kind of culture war nonsense that rivets a number of legislators and other elected officials.