KALAMA — Homeowners will soon have a new way to make some extra income, provide housing for family, and expand affordable housing options in Kalama.
The Kalama City Council Thursday gave initial approval to new code allowing accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, in the city proposed by the Planning Commission, pending a few changes requested by council.
Accessory dwelling units — often referred to as mother-in-law suites or guesthouses — are separate living spaces within, attached to or detached from a single-family home.
Councilmember Jon Stanfill, who proposed allowing ADUs in the city in October 2021, said he is excited to see this come back for approval.
“One of my main concerns as a city councilmember has been how to address affordable housing issues here in Kalama,” he said. “This to me seems like one of the best solutions for our community to move forward.”
ADUs have been adopted in other municipalities mainly to address a lack of affordable housing or housing in general, said Todd Johnson, city planner.
The purpose and intent for allowing ADUs in Kalama outlined by the Planning Commission includes providing homeowners with rental income or the ability to house family or those in need. The units also add affordable housing to the city while maintaining the single-family residential appearance of a neighborhood, the code states.
Under the new rules, ADUs would be allowed at most properties in the single-family or low density residential zone as long as they meet the outlined standards. The ADUs could not be sold separately from the main house.
The city’s large lot zone already allows ADUs, so staff recommended removing the standards in that section and referring to the new code, Johnson said.
Properties could have up to two ADUs, one internal or attached and one external, detached unit. An ADU must be a minimum of 300 square feet of living space, up to a maximum of 800 square feet. The total square footage is limited to 40% of the main structure’s area.
The code requires one additional off-street parking space per ADU. The units must have a separate entrance, separate address, walkway access and meet applicable building, plumbing, electrical, fire and health standards.
One difference from other nearby cities’ ADU codes is that Kalama will require separate utility hookups. That’s not the case in Longview, Kelso or Cowlitz County, but some other jurisdictions require it, said City Administrator Adam Smee.
The Planning Commission decided on separate metering to avoid administrative challenges of multiple parties — like a renter and landlord — sharing a utility bill, Johnson said. Individual bills also give residents more motivation to conserve water, he said.
Inside city limits, water hookup fees are $4,500 for a standard for single-family unit. Any sewer connection costs $10,000, plus a parts and labor bill. Builders also pay $200 per $200 per equivalent residential unit, or ERU, for stormwater management costs.
Stanfill suggested keeping the separate metering requirement but decreasing the hookup fees to one-third of the regular charge.
Councilmember Wendy Conradi said she would prefer a less steep cut and recommended decreasing charges by a third, to be two-thirds of the full cost.
A majority of the council agreed on the one-third amount. That would bring water hookups to $1,500, sewer hookups to $3,334 and stormwater fees to $67.
Councilmembers also agreed with Stanfill’s suggestion to remove language requiring ADUs have “the same roof pitch and form, building materials and colors of the principal unit.”
Conradi said the market should help dictate how ADUs are designed and most people will likely build them to match the main house.
City staff will incorporate the changes requested by council and bring back the updated ordinance for a vote during the March 16 meeting.