Green light for the mini-village permit

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PORT TOWNSEND – After more than three months of controversy, the City of Port Townsend has approved a village of tiny houses in the block bordered by 10th and Rosecrans streets.

The non-profit Bayside Housing & Services, which already operates a similar village in Port Hadlock, applied for the land use permit last summer, triggering a torrent of comments for and against the proposed site.

In the end, Bayside “met the criteria,” city development services director Lance Bailey said on Friday.

If all goes as hoped, 16 tiny homes – a dozen singles and four doubles – could be ready for occupancy in 45 to 60 days, added Gary Keister, executive director of Bayside.

The village, consisting of brightly painted, furnished and lockable wooden shelters, is designed to accommodate a maximum of 20 people. It has a 320 square foot “communal” kitchen, one bathroom, and 14-space off-street parking.

The permit, along with the public comments submitted to the city – and Bayside’s responses – can be viewed on a web page created by the city: https://cityofpt.us/development-services/page/lup21-051- bayside-housing-tent -campement-decision.

A site map and the village code of conduct can be found in Annex D of the Applications Submissions page.

It is a temporary 180-day license to use with a possible 60-day extension – no more, Bailey said.

Volunteer Sandy Tweed, a beautiful artist from Port Townsend, finished painting a bathroom door in Pat’s Place on Friday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz / Peninsula Daily News)

The document qualifies the village of mini-houses as a “tent camp,” he added, because that is the terminology used in the municipal code. Changing such wording would require the approval of Port Townsend City Council.

The new village will be called Pat’s Place, named after a family member of landowner Randall Johnson of Port Angeles.

Bayside is leasing the land to Johnson with an option to buy, Keister said, adding that the agency hopes to eventually use the property for longer-term housing.

For the moment, this future village is neither tents nor a camp. A large team of volunteers have built the small houses, which will have beds, shelves, lighting, curtains and heaters. Bayside plans to install water and sewer connections on the site.

Keister said on Friday his agency would explore its options to appeal the 180-day permit limit; the appeal period is open until October 21.

These little houses are transitional housing, Keister said. They are warm and safe places. A single man or woman, couple, or parent and child can stay at Pat’s Place while Bayside offers help finding long-term housing elsewhere in the community.

Kellen Lynch of the Housing Solutions Network looks inside one of the small houses on Pat's Place in Port Townsend on Friday.  (Diane Urbani de la Paz / Peninsula Daily News)

Housing Solutions Network’s Kellen Lynch looks into one of the tiny houses on Pat’s Place in Port Townsend on Friday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz / Peninsula Daily News)

People who live in the village – usually for a month or two – must undergo a background check and sign a 26-point code of conduct.

Among its rules:

• No alcohol, illegal drugs or firearms are permitted on the premises.

• Face coverings are mandatory on the exterior of mini houses, in accordance with county and state mandates.

• Quiet hours are in effect at all times, so no loud voices, music, computers, motors or other disturbances are allowed.

• No overnight guests are allowed.

• Visitors are limited to immediate family members and support agency workers.

• Residents must participate in weekly village autonomy meetings.

• Residents should keep common spaces and areas around their mini-homes tidy and clean.

• If a resident sees any type of harassment from a neighbor, he or she will bring it to the attention of the Bayside on-site facilitator or on-call person.

• Residents will pay monthly rent: 20 percent of their income for the sustainability of the village.

“It’s not just for me, but for other people who aspire to participate in this village,” notes the code of conduct.

“This small village of houses is a place where people value the community and support each other. ”

The City’s Developmental Services Department, in approving the Bayside permit, added a few conditions: the words “Do not wander around the surrounding neighborhood” should be added to the code of conduct; Bayside is required to erect a fence around the perimeter of the site and install a bike rack for at least five bikes.

Keister, for his part, is hoping the surrounding community can come together to support decent transitional housing. It has been a long road to get the Pat’s Place permit, he said, even as local leaders called the housing situation an emergency.

“It’s disappointing that an emergency takes so long,” Keister said.

Back at the tiny house construction site near San Juan Avenue, volunteers continued to put the finishing touches on the structures. They include the bathroom unit, whose Sandy Tweed doors painted teal on Friday afternoon, and the kitchen unit.

It’s a “double double,” four times the size of a single small house, as volunteer Judy Alexander put it.

Entrepreneur Todd Armstrong added that it will be a common space where people can meet – “the heart of the village,” he said.

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Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]



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