Commission weighs in on statewide dev. proposals

Members of the Keizer Planning Commission discussed the possible ramifications of development code changes being made statewide to allow new types of housing in single family zones at its meeting Wednesday, Sept. 16. 

Shane Witham, Keizer’s interim community development director, asked the commission for its thoughts on efficiency measures that might require smaller lot sizes, a reduction of parking requirements and how to adjust standards to encourage a wider variety of housing. 

On all three questions, commissioners were open to discussions, but expressed concerns over unexpected consequences. 

“Change makes people nervous,” said Commissioner Frank Hostler. “Infill is something people are concerned about. More people means more noise and one thing leads to another.”

The lot size changes would likely have some of the more immediate effects on Keizer, Witham said. The majority of lots in Keizer are 9,000 square feet or more. The model code under discussion would reduce minimum lot sizes to 4,000 square feet, which might result in up to two single family homes replacing current single-family dwellings.

Commissioner Jeffrey Watson said smaller lot sizes appeared to be a forgone conclusion, but the commission might want to take a look at Keizer’s “good neighbor” ordinances. Good neighbor ordinances generally regulate quality of life issues such as vehicles being abandoned in the street, obstructions of sidewalks, limits on the number of lodgers allowed in a single residence, and home offices. 

“Acting proactively in those areas might not be a bad way to frame this,” Watson said. 

While that has generally been the preferred stance of planning commissioners, it tried to get ahead of new statewide codes regarding accessory dwelling units and ending up needing to revisit changes made when the changes approved in Keizer ran afoul of the final state changes. 

Commissioner Mark Caillier suggested that traffic impacts, and particularly a surge in the number of vehicles within the city, should be taken into consideration. 

“I don’t know what Keizer’s traffic vision is,” Caillier said. “I think we’ve done the right things so far, but I’ve got too many questions to pass on a recommendation to the city council.”

Commissioners remained open to discussing any changes down the pike, even if they shied away from specifics during the meeting. 

With triplexes and duplexes being allowed in all residential zones as a result of the coming changes, Commissioner Jeremy Grenz wondered how that would look in Keizer. 

“If we are required to do triplexes, we are going to have to go up and people can only build five feet higher than the buildings around it,” Grenz said.  

Witham said nothing is set in stone at the moment, but he wanted to get the ball moving so Keizer is ready to move when the final state code is approved. 

“There isn’t a magic number of how efficient we should get, but we are under a compulsion to do the best we can do,” Witham said. 

Commissioner Matt Lawyer suggested pivoting from mitigating impacts on Keizer to seeing if the city itself could influence the types of changes the state moves forward with. 

City Attorney Shannon Johnson suggested Keizer might not have the weight needed to influence the path of the changes, but the planning commission might find greater success participating in the public comment period when it opens.