After Tuesday night’s public hearing, Cannon Beach City Council passed a proposed zoning ordinance amendment that prohibits the joining of adjacent lots to allow for the construction of a larger home.
However, council postponed a vote on the hotly debated section and proposed a change that would have set an absolute cap of 2,000 square feet for a single-family home to another meeting.
The ordinance does not apply to existing single-family homes in Cannon Beach.
Additionally, the council amended part of the ordinance before it was passed to allow homes that were accidentally damaged and needed to be rebuilt at the existing square footage.
The proposed 2,000-square-foot acreage cap discussed Tuesday night included attached garages, as noted in the city’s report. Under this wording, owners would have been permitted to add a detached accessory structure, such as a garage or guest house, which would increase the total square footage to 2,600 square feet.
Timothy Ramey, resident and owner of Cannon Beach, sent a letter to the mayor and council on January 1 explaining his objection to the city’s proposed absolute square footage limit: “Kari (Ramey his wife) and I, as residents and voters in Cannon Beach, oppose ZO 21-08 as it currently stands. We believe this code review serves a reasonable purpose and has some strengths, but goes overboard by imposing arbitrary limits on gross floor area where such limits would not be tied to lot size.
He spoke to The Gazette on Monday and said he understood the intention to retain the “village feel” of Cannon Beach. He agrees with the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) chart regarding the proposal, but disagrees with the section that sets an arbitrary square footage limit for single-family homes.
He said a week ago Monday that the council had changed that square footage limit from 3,500 square feet to 2,000 square feet.
“I really think what the council is trying to prohibit is building massive houses on tiny lots,” he said. He agrees with the other part of the proposal submitted to the public hearing, which prohibits people from buying adjacent land in order to increase the size of the house they want to build.
The FAR table itself “makes sense,” he said. It’s the 2,000 square foot limit that doesn’t.
Commenting the next morning after the meeting, Ramey said in an email: “Gross Floor Area Limits opponents scored a big and important victory last night, but we certainly won’t rest until this heinous subject continues.” will not be resolved. The public has spoken very clearly: use the FAR ratio tables in Section 2 and remove arbitrary gross square footage caps, which Mayor Steidel described as “the wrong tool for the job, like fixing a watch broken with a hammer”.
Ramey said that according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the median home in this country is 2,337 square feet, not including garage square footage. A two-car garage is typically around 500 square feet. This proposal would therefore limit the “living space” of the house to 1,500 square feet.
“They (the council) are trying to impose a ridiculously small house size for families, for home workers (and) for the average person,” he said.
The city should instead, he said, design a number “that makes sense or let the charts dictate (the square footage), because it compares the size of the house to the lot.”
Historically, Cannon Beach was a community of second homes, not large homes, he said. “I am in favor of prohibiting the joining of adjacent lots to increase the (allowed) square footage of the house.”
He said his wife, Kari, thinks allowing adjoining lots to join together to increase square footage “isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” When they lived in Hinsdale, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago a few years ago, allowing lots to join helped prevent massive homes from being built on tiny lots. This allowed people to build bigger houses and “contributed a lot to the revival of the city”.
But, he said he wondered if it would be good for Cannon Beach.
He said a homeowner who wants to add square footage to their existing home by building an extra room in the attic, for example, would be barred under this proposal, if the house exceeds the square footage limit.
According to voter data from the 2018 election, “76% of people who voted in Cannon Beach were 51 or older,” he said.
“As we (in Cannon Beach) get older – and we are baby boomers – we will probably want other people in the house to help take care of us. I don’t want to go to a house (for the elderly).
“This proposal does not take into account the needs of residents in 10 or 20 years,” he said.
He said he has spoken to a number of people in Cannon Beach who agree with him and oppose the acreage limit as currently proposed.