Housing prices have lost touch with reality | Housing Hub

Justine Gonzalez-Berg
Posted 4/28/21

In case you haven’t noticed, the housing market has grown wings and taken flight. This is leaving our community’s workers with fewer and fewer options for housing and putting local …

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Housing prices have lost touch with reality | Housing Hub

Posted

In case you haven’t noticed, the housing market has grown wings and taken flight. This is leaving our community’s workers with fewer and fewer options for housing and putting local employers in a lurch.  

In all of March, the Leader’s Classifieds section listed only two rentals: one house and one apartment (neither of which allowed pets). I learned that the house listing received “40 or 50” inquiries. So far in April there have been only two rentals listed. One unit is a tiny home that is only available for a single person for a maximum of two months, no pets. The other is a two-bedroom unit for $3,250 per month for a six-month stay, or $2,500 per month for one year; it is also being advertised on Seattle Craigslist.

Those who can buy aren’t able to secure housing either. The number of home sales in Jefferson County increased 39 percent comparing the end of 2019 with the end of 2020, and prices that were already high increased 11 percent. The few homes for sale that once may have been considered starter or fixer-upper homes for local families are being swooped up by full cash offers, often well above asking price. Local families continue to be out-bid. 

Scrolling through posts in the Facebook group “Jefferson County, WA Rentals” it is clear who is being left out of this market. A young family seeks housing and is currently homeless. Young, working couple seeks a home in advance of their baby’s birth, and can afford $1,200. Young couple is pre-approved to buy a home up to $300K, desperately trying to find a rental instead. Young couple trying to move here for work, can afford $1,800. Single people of all ages trying to rent a room or studio for under $1,000. Person moving here for work and looking for space to park a trailer. Many posts are about finding space to park trailers or RVs. Many people have pets.

The consequences for our local economy are deeply concerning, especially as we try to recover from the pandemic. In each week of April, the Leader’s classified section has included around 45 help wanted listings, many of which listed multiple positions open. 

A few weeks ago, board members of our local economic development council counted more than 80 job openings among them, including at the paper mill, hospital, and public transit. Whether the job is minimum wage or offers a decent salary, all these employers are struggling to hire or retain workers due to the lack of available and financially attainable housing. 

Last week I spoke to a young mom who grew up here but plans to move across the country this year. When I asked why she responded, “I’m a single parent living in a tiny home and using an outhouse. I want more opportunity.” 

(Justine Gonzalez-Berg is the Director of Housing Solutions Network and serves on the board of Homeward Bound Community Land Trust.)

Comments

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Mike Galmukoff

You wrote..." all these employers are struggling to hire or retain workers due to the lack of available and financially attainable housing..."

Your statement is not completely accurate, though it is a contributing factor in some cases.

However you are missing two primary contributing factors.

We have been business owners, and employers in Port Townsend and Jefferson County since 1990.

This has been factually incorrect for at least the last 20 years. Everything from food, gas, propane, and heating oil has been, and is more expensive in Jefferson County. And yes, rents have been as expensive as well if you do not live "within" big city limits on the I-5 side.

Until (not all) business owners start realizing that with rents being high, utilities costing astronomical numbers (soon 55% increase in water) and the fact that it is as expensive as the I-5 corridor then things will not change soon.

I hear a lot of noise from certain ones on our community about paying at least a $15.00 minimum wage, but now many actually have stepped up to the plate and do pay this "progressives" promoted minimum wage?

Now, in no way do I believe my two points, and yours are the only reasons why things are as they are out here. There are other contributing factors as well, but housing simply is not the only one.

Thursday, April 29
Robert Finnigan

Kellen Lynch wrote that Jefferson County needs 700 homes for the next 5 years.

Kellen notes over 1000 homes are seasonally vacant and need better use.

Chuck Johnson wrote to stop development of 46 expensive near golf course homes.

He wants affordable and environment low impact homes.

Jack McCreary wrote to address housing needs with a serious political plan.

Justine Gonzalez-Berg wrote employers struggle to hire due to lack of housing.

The elephant in the room?

The people of Jefferson County did not want more homes in their area. The political will is to have expensive, few, controlled, home sites.

The root of this problem is completely ignored on purpose. The Regulator - Legislator - Growth management act (GMA) laws force this homeless condition. It took a generation to bite hard, but this homeless situation is completely a government result and fault.

Back in 1965, and until today, the GMA works to force people to live in only UGA "approved areas". The use of open land for people habitat is stopped by law.

Statutes:

Ch. 35.63 RCW – Planning Commissions

Ch. 35A.63 RCW – Planning and Zoning in Code Cities

RCW 35A.63.040 – Regional Planning

Ch. 36.70 RCW – Planning Enabling Act (Counties)

RCW 36.70.060 – Regional Planning Commission

Ch. 36.70A RCW – Growth Management Act

Ch. 36.70B RCW – Local Project Review

RCW 58.17.095 – Ordinance may authorize administrative review of preliminary plat without public hearing

RCW 58.17.100 – Review of preliminary plats by planning commission or agency-Recommendation-Change by legislative body-Procedure-Approval.

Low income neighbors are kept out by regional councils (xRRC) under their cry of "No Sprawl" "No California" type growth. Thurston, King, Jefferson, Callum counties all enforce this no growth GMA / UGA policy. Force growth of "people use" into small controlled lands- and the result is exactly what we have - and Kellen Lynch, Chuck Johnson, Jack McCreary, Justine Gonzalez-Berg, comment on and want fixed. Sad, but the law says "NO". Higher density home use is restricted to few small areas (UGA) and limited to 1990 borders in future use.

"Urban Growth. The designation of rural commercial areas based on the requirements of RCW 36.70A.070(5)(d) prevents urban growth or urban-scale development outside of Urban Growth Areas by containing existing commercial areas based predominantly on the built environment as of July 1, 1990. Commercial uses will be restricted in implementing ordinances by a land use table that prevents certain regional uses from occurring in other rural commercial areas.

Reduce Sprawl. Jefferson County has recognized and contained existing areas and uses by establishing boundaries based on the built environment. The boundaries provide for limited infill and prevent the identified pattern of development from extending beyond the designated boundaries."

It is supply and demand. No supply and big demand means super high prices.

The county plans are not updated every five years, or if so, then why have there been no changes? Properties have come and gone that are still noted in the plans. Looks like 1990 is the last real review.

Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan 2018

Brinnon Subarea Plan 2002

"The vision continues to be for a community that provides a rural, lightly populated structure and fosters a quality of life we currently enjoy."

Brinnon Community Development Plan 1982 - Resolution No. 9-82

"By unanimous vote ...the Jefferson County County Board of Commissioners duly adopt the proposed BACDP as a special chapter of the JCCP."

Brinnon Chapter 3 Land Use and Rural Element

"The integration of GMA requirements to protect rural character and prevent low-density sprawl is accomplished by integrating the Land Use and Rural elements."

"The County must ensure that rural areas, which may have more platted lots than

needed to address population growth (and allow for market factors), are designated for low-density residential development that is consistent with the historical pattern of growth and prevents a new pattern of sprawling development."

Thursday, April 29
Jeff Gallant

The Growth Management Act passed in the 80's and implemented in the 90's is adaptable to real changes in our community. But with City leadership focused on the downtown area and county leadership focused on not becoming Sequim, Port Hadlock is left without leadership at all.

I have been building and repairing homes in Jefferson County for 34 years and do you think at any time has a government representative of non-profit officer once ask me how to build affordable housing. We think when we get a government that looks like us we're OK. But I think an effective Government is an amalgam of different perspectives.

I have begun to accept less and less from our local leadership. So much so that victory to me would be,..... me being able to buy a new pair of socks in Hadlock.

Friday, April 30