A discussion of what multi-dwelling developments are is included in a previous post, but to summarize:
As written, the new housing type that the Planning Department recommended to Council on Tuesday night (October 6) would allow multiple buildings of one or more units on a single lot in certain zones. The stated rationale was to legitimize the double duplex development on 1st and D, but as the code was written, the end result could look far different.
The planner attempting to explain the difference between "cluster housing" (or cottage housing) and the new code, and stated cluster housing codes were typically more complex and defined with architectural styles, etc. However when asked. She ultimately admitted that this type of development would be permitted with this code.
The multi-dwelling development code was vaguely written and had few limits on what could be built. Testimony was given regarding a planned row-house development in the East End Redevelopment District where each unit would have an apartment over the alley-facing garage. Under current zoning codes, secondary dwelling units are only allowed for single family homes. With this code in place, this limitation would be lifted and the apartments could be stand-alone dwelling units available for rent.
A major flaw in our development code is the lack of a minimum dwelling unit size, but that's another issue that needs fixing.
Perhaps the citizens of Lake Oswego will want to have some form of multi-dwelling development some day, but the nature of the beast and the location where it could be built would still need to be decided. Since this would be a brand new housing type for the city, it should not be introduced as a vague concept through code amendments, but be a community-wide discussion about just what the housing would look, what are the pros and cons, and how it would fit into existing neighborhoods, since that is all we have anymore - existing neighborhoods with their own character and feel.
This code was unanimously rejected by the Planning Commission, but the planning staff who initiated it still recommended it for Lake Oswego. In a 5-2 vote, the City Council agreed with the Planning Commission and rejected multi-dwelling developments. That is a wise and good decision.
Here are some examples of cluster, or multi-dwelling developments found on the web: