In an effort to increase affordable housing, the Cowlitz County commissioners Tuesday took the first step to update the county’s manufactured home park code.

The commissioners adopted a manufactured home park “overlay” district, which is intended to promote flexibility when permitting new or expanding manufactured home parks while ensuring compatibility with local and state laws.

The district applies to all 60 manufactured or mobile home parks within unincorporated Cowlitz County, as well as areas approved for future use. The overlay allows the county to bring all parks under one standard, said Greta Holmstrom, senior long range planner.

Holmstrom said the manufactured home park code, adopted in the 1980s, needs to be simplified and more consistent. Those updates will come before the commissioners in the next few weeks, she said.

The effort stems from a 2017 directive from the commissioners to Building and Planning to recommend changes to existing regulations to increase housing supply, choice, innovation and affordability, according to the ordinance.

Kelso City Councilman Jim Hill applauded the commissioners for addressing the inconsistency of manufactured home parks. He said rules are often arbitrarily applied to residents and they can also be easily evicted. Hill asked the commissioners to consider enforcing agreements between the park owners and tenants to help cut back on these problems.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Approved a supplement to a local agreement for the West Side Highway slide repair project, located south of Beebe Road. The estimated total cost of the project is $129,700, with 86.5%, or about $112,200, to be reimbursed by federal funds.
  • Approved a supplemental agreement to a Public Works’ contract with Parametrix Inc. to provide an additional $500,000 in design and engineering services. The additional work is for two new projects funded by the Fish Barrier Removal Board to replace culverts on Ostrander and Garlock roads.

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