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Sept. 28, 2022

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Camas eyes density, mixed dwelling types in affordable housing plan

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter
3 Photos
A motorist drives past Camas Ridge Apartments on Monday morning.
A motorist drives past Camas Ridge Apartments on Monday morning. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Higher density and mixed dwelling types are likely to be keys to Camas’ housing strategy in the coming years.

The city is nearly done crafting a housing action plan aimed at finding ways to bring more affordable housing in the city. A $100,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce has funded the project.

Following public outreach efforts last year, consultants have drawn up a draft action plan.

The draft recommends implementing new zoning strategies, such as relaxed lot and dimensional standards.

Plan consultants also suggest incorporating more diverse housing types, including cottage-style housing, stacked flat condominiums, courtyard apartments and other cluster developments that are growing in popularity. These types of dwellings could be added as permitted uses on lands zoned for high-density residential or multifamily purposes.

Recommendations are based on a study conducted by Atlanta-based Mosaic Community Planning.

Some of the findings have noted that Camas has outpaced the rest of Clark County in population growth. Nearly 30 percent more people resided in the city last year compared with 2010.

About 77 percent of housing is owner-occupied, and just over 84 percent of housing types involve one, detached unit, according to consultants.

Project consultant Melissa Mailloux said that a large number of homes in the city are “well above where you would think of a starter home being.” The project has found that a $406,456 home would fall in the 35th percentile of housing prices in the city, which outpace both Clark County and the greater metro area.

An online survey asking for residents’ perspective on housing needs late last year drew 307 responses. Respondents gave varying answers to questions about housing quantity, sizes and which demographics of residents can afford to live in the city.

But 196 of the survey takers said that they “strongly agree” with one statement: “Camas should be cautious about new residential development to preserve community character.”

“That’s something that we will try to take into account as we’re developing recommendations,” Mailloux said.

When discussing affordable housing, some tend to only think of high-rise buildings, Planning Commissioner Geoerl Niles said at a recent meeting. “We’ve got our job cut out for us, because that’s stuck pretty heavily in people’s minds.”

The city council could adopt the action plan, with additional opportunities for public input, by June.

More information is available at

Columbian county government and small cities reporter

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