The La Grande City Council meeting Wednesday night centered around code amendments that could have a big impact on the city.

The land development code update, which if passed will change how people build and utilize their property, has been two to three years in the making. The proposed code amendment was passed to its second reading with some minor adjustments at Wednesday night’s meeting.

City Planner Mike Boquist presented the updated code, which was driven by changes in state law and requests submitted by citizens, property owners and developers, according to the city packet.

There have been a number of work sessions surrounding the code and public input was taken into account for any additional amendments, including requirements for cottage home development. A cottage home, or ‘tiny home,’ is a small home meant to fit one or two people. It is generally between 500 to 1,000 square feet. Cottage homes are more affordable, which gives more people the opportunity to own a home.

This addition would allow developers to build multiple small houses and possibly make a dent in the housing shortage.

Right now, someone can build a cottage on a lot but it would be classified as a single family dwelling. With the new code, multiple cottages can be built on a lot, providing they meet regulations. According to the packet provided by the city, the updated code would classify cottage housing as an alternative type of detached housing. The cottage homes are provided as part of the city’s overall housing strategy in the city’s comprehensive plan.

The intention of cottage home development is to encourage affordable housing, innovation and variety in housing design and site development while making sure the development fits within the existing neighborhoods. It also gives more options for the variety of families living in La Grande.

Right now, there aren’t any homes that are specifically classified as cottages, meaning under 1,000 square feet.

However, some property owners have applied for conditional use permits to build a single cottage with the intention of using it as an Airbnb, Boquist said. Airbnb is an online service for renting accommodations to travelers.

Read the full story in Friday's Observer

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