McKMAC visualizes Town Center, tiny houses

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – In meeting after meeting, McKinleyville residents have spent time talking about what they want the McKinleyville Town Center to look like. Now all those words are about to get translated into drawings.

The Humboldt County Planning Division has commissioned local architect Kash Boodjeh to draw images of what the McKinleyville Town Center should look like based on the public input that’s been received.

The drawings will be released for public consumption on June 24. Residents can then attend a special meeting of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee on July 15 to comment on what drawings they like, or don’t like.

The committee talked briefly about the process at its May 27 meeting.

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Committee member Twila Sanchez said one of the problems with the town center meetings so far is that each meeting feels like a new meeting that’s disconnected from the rest.

“There has been no flow to the meetings,” Sanchez said.

Committee chair Kevin Dreyer said there has been talk about streamlining the meetings.

But committee member Maya Conrad said the county is doing the best it can with the resources it has. “This is a huge undertaking and we only the resource of planning staff time,” Conrad said.

Also at the meeting, the committee listened to a presentation from county planner Michael Richardson and Mary Milner on proposed changes to county rules regarding accessory dwelling units (ADU), tiny houses and movable tiny houses.

An ADU can be a garage, either attached to a home or separate, that is converted into a living unit. An ADU can also just be a secondary house on a parcel.

“ADUs are a form of affordable housing,” Richardson said.

The county is in the process of loosening up its rules to allow for more of these types of houses, which can now be as small as 100 square feet.

Under the proposed changes, ADUs would be limited to 1,200 square feet. Tiny houses built on a foundation and tiny houses building on a movable trailer platform would be limited to 400 square feet.

ADUs and tiny homes would still have to meet building standards, although the tiny houses could have 6 feet, 8 inch ceilings and ladders could be used for lofts.

Movable tiny homes would have to meet park-model RV standards.

Many of the rule changes are being mandated by the state, Richardson said.

For example, if a garage is attached to an exiting home, it can be converted into a living unit without having to pay for a sewer connection fee.

Committee member Greg Orsini, who is the manager of the McKinleyville Community Services District, said this concerns him.

“We’re basically giving away capacity in our system with no way to recoup those costs,” Orsini said.

Another concern is that ADUs and tiny homes will be built and used for vacation rentals.

The county’s proposed rules would state that these homes could not be rented for less than 30 days, Richardson said. However, there is no enforcement mechanism.

The Humboldt County Planning Commission will discuss ADUs at its meeting Thursday, June 4 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held on Zoom. The meeting ID is 941-1049-4227 and the password is 200525. Use the Zoom app or call (346) 248-7799.



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