January 31, 2019

3 Min Read
Vancouver, WA, Places Moratorium on Self-Storage Development

Update 1/31/19 – The six-month moratorium on self-storage development in Vancouver, Wash., will likely extend into fall or winter, according to Snodgrass, who briefed the council about the proposed work plan during a public hearing on Monday. The council unanimously voted again in favor. The hearing didn’t include any public testimony, according to the source.

City staff will spend the first half of the year taking inventory of existing storage facilities, conducting industry outreach and researching how other cities have approached self-storage development. They’re expected to offer their recommendations to the city council during the third quarter. This will be followed by planning-commission hearings, city council work sessions and public hearings in the fourth quarter, the source reported.

The city is drafting a plan to govern land use in commercial corridors. The plan will include language about self-storage facilities. A public hearing to extend the moratorium for another six months will likely be held in June, Snodgrass said.

1/3/19  The Vancouver, Wash., City Council voted unanimously last month to implement a six-month moratorium on self-storage development. The temporary ban extends to project applications and facility expansions in all commercial and industrial zones where self-storage is a permitted use. It doesn’t prohibit maintenance work, repairs, or health and safety improvements that may be mandated by the city, according to the source.

The freeze will give city staff time to devise self-storage regulations that’ll be applied to the city’s Commercial Corridor Strategy, a group of new land-use codes officials intend to create this year. The primary concern is storage businesses don’t employ enough staff to meet the city’s employees-per-acre goals for commercial properties, the source reported.

Officials want commercial properties to have an average of 25 employees per acre and industrial areas to have 11 employees per acre. Local self-storage facilities tend to employ one person per 19,000 square feet of building space, according to a 2007 Snohomish County, Wash., study.

Vancouver officials also became wary of potential security concerns after a self-storage application last year described an industry trend toward unmanned facilities, according to the source.

Vancouver is home to 48 operating self-storage locations. The city has received 11 applications for new developments over the last five years, which is only “slightly higher” than the historical average, said Bryan Snodgrass, neighborhood liaison with the city’s community-planning department.

Though the council vote was unanimous, some members wanted to temper officials’ motives. “Other cities have taken kind of the opposite approach and said we want [self-storage] there,” councilmember Ty Stober said during the meeting. “So, it’s a great opportunity for us to understand what works best for us to provide vibrant neighborhoods and maximize our employment areas.”

“I don’t want this to be taken in any way that we’re trying to ban or absolutely get rid of self-storage,” added councilmember Bart Hansen. “We’re going to be having self-storage for quite some time, and I can think of some great zones in the county that it would probably work well for; but in the meantime, we probably should have a more refined plan about what we’re going to do in the city.”

A public hearing on the moratorium is scheduled for Jan. 28.

The Columbian, Vancouver Puts Hold on New Self-Storage Facilities
The Columbian, Self-Storage Moratorium Will Likely Last Most of Year

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