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The original item was published from 3/11/2021 2:25:05 PM to 7/1/2021 12:00:06 AM.

News Flash

Building & Planning

Posted on: January 11, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Housing Action Plan: Read the Public Input Summary

Housing Action Plan: Summary of Public Input

March 11, 2021

Outreach included 5 committee meetings, 11 individual interviews, and over 60 online survey responses.  Participants said supporting market-rate projects, developing housing for seniors, and increasing the number of smaller units in urban areas were paths to support increased housing variety across cost levels. 

Read the Full Outreach Summary Here

Public Input Included:

Code Changes

  • County code should be as flexible as possible to encourage housing development
  • Reduce minimum lot size in Urban zoned areas to increase lot yield
  • The front yard setback reduces the number of homes in an area, and increases costs 
  • Adjust zoning maps to reflect on the ground infrastructure improvements. Allow additional homes near public and private facilities, this would decrease the need for expensive wells and septic systems
  • Increase the amount of land zoned Multiple Family
  • Increase allowed density in Multiple Family zones 
  • Reduce required Right Of Way for private roads 
  • Staff should recommend code updates to the Cottage Housing and PUD ordinances

Process Changes 

  • B&P should review Stormwater/Private road plans
  • Stormwater review process should be simple
  • Increase speed of B&P permit review 
  • Make the permitting process accessible to common people 
  • Research the ability for the EHU to test well water 
  • Reduce B&P permitting costs 
  • Offer virtual consults, pre-app conferences, online permit submittals, and payments
  • Identify permitting process for Group Housing with shared kitchen amenities
  • Clarify Tiny Home permitting and design requirements
  • Encourage dialogue between Planning Commission/BOCC
  • Draft shared septic maintenance agreement


  • Identify staff to act as a Housing Navigator for Builders, they could answer questions, and set up meetings
  • Send a quarterly update about changes in the B&P office to frequent permit users
  • Host periodic, informal B&P open houses 
  • Actively market the benefits of building in Cowlitz County
  • Encourage Beautification efforts to attract development 
  • Create an information dense ‘Developer’s Toolkit’ 
  • Market the highly flexible ADU Code 
  • Collaborate with CWCOG/Woodland on Housing Action Plan
  • Undertake robust outreach effort to disseminate this HAP
  • Partner with Cowlitz Economic Development Council 
  • Encourage PUD to expand electricity to rural areas

Invest in the Future

  • Focus on Market-Rate, for-profit housing
  • Create a housing specific geographic vision for County
  • Encourage incorporation of county areas
  • Support Housing for Seniors, this includes:
    1. Zone for new senior housing and cottage housing
    2. Run a potential project through a permitting process to identify expected timeline, cost, and procedure
    3. Review existing senior housing, identify projects that already work
    4. Send staff to a housing development training/business to learn how to support these types of projects
    5. Promote Senior Property Tax programs
    6. Support Housing in Place for seniors
    7. Programming for seniors to age in place
  • Encourage quality construction
  • Create a Housing Trust Fund to build/finance housing
  • Staff should identify land for development, prepare preliminary information and market this land to housing developers. If appropriate, staff could take this a step further and create ‘Shovel Ready’ preliminary configurations 
    1. Hall/Hansen RD area in Toutle 
    2. Design should focus on improving quality of life
  • Fund infrastructure expansion to close-in rural areas
  • Complete a utility survey to identify areas for development
  • Support permit-exempt wells in the Lewis River Valley
  • Encourage WAC amendment to allow one bedroom septic 
  • Cost sharing program for sewer/water expansions 



  • County Code should support housing that is:
    1. Quality, multiple story rental housing
    2. Middle income housing
    3. Safe, high quality, apartments for young professionals
    4. Zero-lot-line developments
    5. Encourage ADUs and starter homes
    6. More homes of all sizes at a variety of price points
    7. Low income home ownership and rentals
  • Plan for telecommuters to live in Cowlitz County
  • Inventory existing mobile home parks for expansion
  • Transitional Housing
    1. Provide programing to support people living in recreational vehicles and trailers
    2. Provide free or reduced cost housing on sliding scale
    3. Inpatient addiction and mental health facilities
    4. Rental housing for newly independent adolescents 
    5. Innovative tiny house communities


For more information and to get involved, please contact the Cowlitz County Building and Planning Office at (360) 577-3042 x 1-6664 or visit the Housing Action Plan website at:

Staff Contact:

George Winn

Policy and Outreach Planner

Cowlitz County Building and Planning

(360) 577-3042 Ext. 1-6664

Read the Outreach results...
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