Introduction The GMA requires a housing element to be included in the comprehensive plan. The housing element addresses the housing needs of the community over the coming years.
The housing goals below are an integral part of maintaining the small-city atmosphere of the City. Policies are designed to foster active neighborhood communities and strengthen existing neighborhoods. The interest generated from active residents should preserve the sense of pride, community, and familiarity that should perpetuate the small-city atmosphere of the City. The housing goals have also included provisions for dwellings for people with special needs.
The GMA also provides that the housing element must address encouragement for the availability of affordable housing to all economic segments of the population, promote a variety of residential densities and housing types, and encourage the preservation of the existing housing stock.
Housing Policies Goal HH 1 - To promote the detached single family housing form through a variety of approaches to development; and to preserve, protect, and strengthen the vitality and stability of existing neighborhoods. Policy HH 1.1. Promote community involvement to achieve neighborhood improvement through City-initiated neighborhood enhancement activities.
Policy HH 1.2. Minimize environmental problems in residential areas through buffering residential areas from industrial operations, highways, airports, commercial areas, and the like.
Policy HH 1.3. Enhance the appearance of and maintain public spaces in residential areas.
Policy HH 1.4. Promote neighborhood quality by protecting residential areas from undesirable activities through aggressive enforcement of adopted City codes.
Policy HH 1.5. Ensure that housing is compatible in quality, design and intensity with surrounding land uses, traffic patterns, public facilities and environmentally sensitive features through specific site and building design measure and transitions of densities.
Policy HH 1.6. Protect ground water resources, ground water recharge areas, and waterfront areas from residential wastes such as septic tank effluent.
Policy HH 1.7. Encourage innovative residential development with respect to architectural and structural design, utility systems, and site layout. Codes and standards should contain sufficient flexibility to permit innovation and experimentation.
Policy HH 1.8. Mobile homes sited outside of mobile home parks should meet the same standards as other residential structures with respect to density, water supply, sewage disposal, etc.
Policy HH 1.9. Residential development, including mobile home parks, should follow the principles and standards of the City's Zoning Ordinance and the Shoreline Management Master Program.
Policy HH 1.10. Residential developers should assume all direct costs of their individual projects such as roads, accesses, parking, surface drainages, water systems, sewer systems, etc. The general taxpaying public of the City should not be required to pay those costs in future years due to lack of, or inadequate, initial construction.
Policy HH 1.11. Property owners within subdivisions platted without the development of necessary facilities and amenities prior to the adoption of this Comprehensive Plan should pay the costs of conforming to urban design standards, and not the general taxpayers. Road improvements, water systems, etc. should be financed by Local Improvement Districts (L.I.D.) overseen by the City.
Policy HH 1.12. The residential development policies within community plans adopted pursuant to this Comprehensive Plan should express residential densities in "dwelling units per gross acre" rather than "minimum lot size". This provides for more flexibility in the siting of homes and permits "clustering" or grouping of houses without compromising the overall community standards for density. Clustering is a technique intended to: reduce site development costs; take advantage of the best features of property such as good views; and retain more usable open space than with uniformly distributed minimum lot sizes. Clustering as a concept is supported by this Comprehensive Plan.
Policy HH 1.13. Disabled or dilapidated vehicles, machinery, or boats should be removed from, rather than abandoned, in residential areas.
Goal HH 2 - To allow a variety of densities and housing types so that the City can provide housing opportunities to meet a variety of needs, including affordable housing and housing which meets the special needs of age or disability. Policy HH 2.1. Encourage and promote a wide range of residential development types and densities in various parts of the City to meet the needs of a diverse population and provide affordable housing choices for all income levels. The City should not look into a very specific numeric goal in approving a fixed number of housing units per year. Instead, the City should strive to encourage the construction of an average number of housing units over a period of time (10 years).
Policy HH 2.2. Encourage the preservation of existing affordable housing, which will be dispersed throughout the City.
Policy HH 2.3. Encourage housing opportunities for people with special housing needs. These homes are best located in residential areas that are near supportive community services, recreational and commercial facilities.
Policy HH 2.4. Encourage the use of smaller lot sizes and/or multifamily housing in areas designated for such uses.
Policy HH 2.5. Work with and support Benton County in developing incentives and subsidy programs to preserve and enhance below-market housing.
Policy HH 2.6. Explore all available federal, state and local programs and private options for financing affordable and special needs housing.
Policy HH 2.7. Encourage and support social and health service organizations which offer support programs for those with special needs, particularly those programs that help people remain in the community.
Policy HH 2.8. Encourage development of residential lots in order to keep a large supply, thus helping to maintain availability and affordability.
Policy HH 2.9. Promote a diversity of housing types to satisfy a variety of lifestyles and economic capabilities.
Policy HH 2.10. Allocate land for residential development reasonably scaled to reflect projected demand.
Policy HH 2.11. Locate, design and construct residential development with respect to such natural conditions as soil capability, geologic features, probability of flooding, and topography.
Goal HH 3 - To provide a broad range of health, social, and low-cost housing opportunities which pay particular attention to senior citizens and low-income families. Housing Policies
Policy HH 3.1. Coordinate with state and regional health care and housing programs.
Policy HH 3.2. Maintain existing area facilities and provide expansions as needs arise. The upgrading and renovation of deteriorating structures is encouraged.
Housing Goals, Policies, and Strategies
Goal HP 1. – To preserve and enhance established neighborhoods where it’s consistent with the overall city land use plan. Policy HP 1.1. Identify, reinforce, and protect the character of established residential neighborhoods.
Policy HP 1.2. Encourage new single-family development to be compatible with the scale and character of adjacent single-family areas.
Policy HP 1.3. Maintain the single-family character of the greater Prosser area while acknowledging the necessity of providing affordable housing.
Goal HP 2. – To ensure compatibility of residential development with established and projected land use patterns. Policy HP 2.1. Concentrate high density residential development within one-half mile of schools, employment centers, and transportation systems, and provide urban services including water, sewer, utilities, drainage, emergency services, and garbage disposal deemed necessary to high-density residential development.
Policy HP 2.2. Locate multi-family residential housing so it does not disrupt single-family neighborhoods.
Strategy HP 2.2.1. Limit multi-family residential housing and mobile-home parks to areas where access can be provided to public streets without creating congestion or disruption to single-family residential neighborhoods.
Policy HP 2.3. Multi-family development should have direct access to an arterial street. Traffic generated from multi-family development will be directed away from single-family neighborhoods.
Policy HP 2.4. Use flexible design standards in multi-family development to mitigate impacts on less intense adjoining land uses.
Strategy HP 2.4.1. Consider mitigating impacts of new multi-family residential developments on single-family neighborhoods in a combination of the following: additional setbacks, buffers, open space, parking areas, fencing, screening, landscape, recreational space, and architecture.
Strategy HP 2.4.2. Consider requiring a minimum lot size for multifamily residential housing that is three times the prevailing lot size in any adjacent single-family zoned areas.
Strategy HP 2.4.3. Require a binding site plan that identifies the scale and location of all buildings, parking areas and driveways, recreational facilities, building elevations, and landscaping, screening or fencing.
Strategy HP 2.4.4. On properties large enough to accommodate two or more buildings each building will be different from its neighbor in shape and size, and be varied so that there is no obvious or repeated pattern. Policy HP 2.5. Require that multi-family residential development bear the burden of transition and mitigation when the development is near single-family residential neighborhoods.
Policy HP 2.6. Allow high density residential to locate in established residential areas only when they will not detract from the existing character of the neighborhood.
Strategy HP 2.6.1. Consider limiting multifamily housing to a scale compatible with the surrounding structures in established neighborhoods.
Strategy HP 2.6.2. When a proposed multi-family development faces or adjoins the front, side or rear yard of existing single family residences, which have established an aesthetic quality or character for the immediate vicinity, the proposed multi-family development must observe the established neighborhood character and be harmonious in site arrangement height, site development and landscaping, and be reasonably integrated in such detail as roof shape, finish materials, color, etc.
Policy HP 2.7. Use natural and topographical changes, when possible to buffer and separate multi-family residential developments from single-family neighborhoods.
Strategy HP 2.7.1. Where land is essentially, level a perimeter multifamily building must not exceed the established height (elevation) of existing buildings on adjoining properties.
Strategy HP 2.7.2. Where the land is gently and uniformly sloping a building may match but not exceed the floor to ground relationship established by existing buildings on adjoining properties.
Strategy HP 2.7.3. Where the land is steeply rising and where there is a marked topographic division between the land and adjoining properties a building may be two stories but cannot exceed the height (elevation) of an existing building on adjoining properties. Policy HP 2.8. Require residential developers to provide adequate buffering from adjoining agricultural uses. They will additionally be responsible for reducing the conflict between the dissimilar uses.
Goal HP 3. – To encourage the development of affordable housing for all segments of the population. Policy HP 3.1. Evaluate the effect of impact fees on the affordability of housing before establishing such impact fees.
Policy HP 3.2. Accommodate the potential need for housing while avoiding a market perception of a shortage of land available for residential development.
Strategy HP 3.2.1. Make provisions to house the forecasted increase in population during the planning period.
Strategy HP 3.2.2 Consider encouraging the development of residences above businesses in commercial districts, either as a permitted use or by conditional-use permit.
Policy HP 3.3. Encourage the provision for a variety of single-family housing types to facilitate home ownership.
Policy HP 3.4. Encourage residential uses that support increased densities, while maintaining the single-family character of existing neighborhoods, such as duplexes or accessory units.
Policy HP 3.5. Encourage higher density single-family neighborhoods near commercial centers and other facilities/services to encourage pedestrian rather than vehicular circulation.
Policy HP 3.6. Allow accessory residential units in residential zones, upon approval of a conditional use permit.
Strategy HP 3.6.1. Consider requiring that the design or alteration of an accessory unit must be compatible with the scale and character of adjacent single-family homes, including parking areas and driveways.
Strategy HP 3.6.2. Allow property owners to integrate an accessory dwelling unit into a single-family home or garage. Goal HP 4. – To promote a variety of residential densities and housing types. Policy HP 4.1. Encourage opportunities for home ownership through the availability of a variety of housing types.
Strategy HP 4.1.1. Encourage a range of housing types and densities including but not limited to small lot single-family, zero-lot-line developments, cluster housing, town houses, condominiums, accessory apartments, and manufactured homes both in parks and on subdivided lots. Policy HP 4.2. Encourage different residential types within a multifamily zone.
Strategy HP 4.2.1. Allow a variety of multi-family residential housing types, such as townhouses, courtyard buildings, small cottages, duplexes, triplexes, and four, six andeight-plexes in the higher density residential districts.
Strategy HP 4.2.3. Consider the development of usable outdoor space above ground in a multi-family building such as roof terraces, roof decks or balconies as an addition to the area of the parcel when computing the dwelling units yield.
Strategy HP 4.2.4. Add two square feet to the area of the site for every one square foot of such parking area when computing the dwelling unit yield when the area of automobile parking for multifamily dwellings provided under the floors of or on the roof of habitable parts of the building may.
Strategy HP 4.2.5. Consider the area of covered automobile parking for multifamily dwellings as an addition to the area of the parcel when computing the dwelling unit yield. Analysis of Housing Needs The primary source of information regarding housing is the US Census of Population which is taken every 10 years. The latest available census information is for the year 2000.
Table 7:Housing Tenure
At the time of the last Census, there were 1,697 units in the city. As noted below, an inventory of land uses conducted in October of 2006 found 1935 units, an increase of 238 units since the 2000 census.
In 2000, 71% of all units were owner occupied, a higher ratio than either the State or County.
Table 8: Age of Housing Stock
The housing stock of the City tends to be older than either the average for the State or County. While almost 30% of the housing stock in 2000 was built before 1950, only about 20% of the State’s stock was that old.
Average Household Size and Affordability
Table 9: Size of Household
The average household size in Prosser was 2.83 persons per household, a higher ratio than the State or County. The average household sizewas lower for renters than owners.
Table 10: Affordability of Rental Housing
In 2000, housing tended to be more affordable in Prosser than the County or State with less than 16% of all renters paying more than 40% of their income for rent. The median cost of owning a home with a mortgage was $941 per month, compared to a state average cost of $1,268.
The analysis of population growth in the Land Use Element demonstrates that the Comprehensive Plan has the ability to accommodate the forecasted growth for the city. The amount of area within the city and its urban growth area, allows ample opportunity for a wide variety of housing types. The combination of new units added to the affordable existing units should allow an ample opportunity for housing to be provided to all income levels.
Table 11: Housing Quality
An important indicator of housing quality as reported in the Census is the number of people per room in each housing unit since a high ratio indicates potential overcrowding.
While the number of people per room in Prosser is a little higher than the State or County averages, there is less potential overcrowding for owners than renters.
In October of 2006, Dugan Planning Services conducted a 100% visual survey of the City utilizing assessor data to rate housing condition and quality in the community using the following rating scale:
Very Good: Houses of exceptional quality often incorporating distinctive architectural features or amenities that causes the unit to stand out among other units in the neighborhood. Includes older structures of historical significance maintained or rehabilitated to outstanding condition.
Good: A very well maintained structure with significant residential amenities (such as view, swimming pools, extensive landscaping, etc.) or noteworthy architectural features that provide amenities superior to other homes in the neighborhood.
“A”: Housing units maintained in good condition which is average or above average. All significant maintenance needs (such as painting, roofing, siding repair etc.) are current and no defects are noted.
Fair: Units without significant structural defects, but may not have all maintenance needs kept up to date. For example, may need painting, roofing needs attention, siding features need repair or windows need attention.
Poor: Structures evidencing structural defects or significant maintenance needs, such as needed wall or roof patching or replacement, or structural features evidence warping.
Figure 10: Housing Condition or Quality
As shown, 58% of the units are rated A or better. Only 10.5% of the units are rated less than fair, indicating a relatively high quality of housing units. The residents of the community take particularly good care of their yards with less that 7% of the total units rated with yards of low or poorer care and over 80% rated good or better.
Poorer housing conditions tend to be located in areas with older housing stock and in the older mobile home parks. Particularly noticeable clusters of lower quality houses or houses in poorer condition occur at the eastern and western ends of Sherman Avenue. In both of these areas, some lower-quality units or poorer housing conditions present a threat of blight. Another significant concentration is located along Alice. (Another cluster exists along the central part of Sherman, but substantial reinvestment is occurring in this area, with some new units being built or others being rehabilitated). Mobile home courts along Wine Country Road and adjacent to Highway 22 and on Sheridan have a significant number of low-quality units in poor condition.