The Sitka Assembly, when it met on Tuesday (3/10/20), approved a new section of city code that outlines rules and regulations for tiny houses, with the hopes of promoting more affordable housing in the community.

The new guidelines make Sitka one of the first cities in the United States to allow tiny houses on chassis in residential zones- specifically in mobile home lots. Tiny houses on wheels are legally considered RVs in most of the country. 

Sitka’s new code aligns with International Residential Code standards for tiny homes. But when the assembly first considered making tiny houses on chassis legal in Sitka in January, some members pushed back with concerns about safety and standards. And others were worried it would leave a loophole for RVs, which are not legal permanent residential dwellings in Sitka. 

So staff went back to the drawing board, re-crafting some of the language. The proposal came back to the assembly in February, but the group pushed back again, this time on a section of the code that would have prevented builders from using certain materials like vinyl siding in tiny house construction.

But by Tuesday, most assembly members were content with the new code, and the ordinance passed 6-0 on second and final reading. 

In other business, the assembly…

  •  Had a lengthy discussion on next steps to address climate change in Sitka, but took no formal action. 
  • Approved an RFP for a marine haulout at Gary Paxton Industrial Park on a 5-1 vote with member Richard Wein opposed 
  • Approved updates to city code defining bulk retail and allowing for conditional use in industrial zones
  • Approved $88,000 in appropriations for legal defense costs for litigation involving the Sitka Police Department, 5-1 with member Wein opposed 
  • Approved $30,000 in additional repairs to Crescent Harbor lightering float- 4-2 with members Richard Wein and Steven Eisenbeisz opposed 
  • Unanimously approved reappointing Nicole Filipek to a three year term on the library commission, appointed Nalani Natise Durden James to the library commission, and Jennifer Klejka to a three year term on the LEPC. 
  • Approved a liquor license renewal for Beak Restaurant
  • Approved the minutes from the Feb 20 and 25 assembly meetings