Committee discusses need for more housing

City officials advised to double number of houses added per year



Councilmembers Nathan Weller and Eileen Macoll question Bryan Points on how a student residential zone would be created. Points responded that it would not be an official zone but rather a residential area that was more desirable for students on Tuesday evening at Pullman City Hall.

BENJAMIN WHITE, Evergreen reporter

The City of Pullman may need to add several thousand housing units in the coming years to keep up with increasing housing demands, a representative from a consulting firm told the city council on Tuesday.

Thomas P. Miller & Associates was hired to research housing needs in Whitman and Latah counties and propose a plan.

“Economic development and housing are intertwined, you cannot look at one of those issues without looking at the other,” he said.

In researching, the company looked at other cities that had similar situations and saw what they have done about housing needs, he said.

A problem the Palouse faces is being off the radar for developers, Points said. Many developers that could work here are instead working in other areas.

He said to fulfill the demand for current residents and new residents over the next ten years, the city must add 3,200 total units, which should be single-family homes.

That would be about 270 homes a year, which is close to double what the town has been doing, Points said.

To make the plan successful the community needs to establish a Palouse housing leadership team, he said.

Rick Lytel, CEO of Klar Scientific, also made a presentation on how his business has grown in Pullman.

Klar Scientific produces spectroscopic microscopes that are used to identify materials, he said.

The microscopes work by shining light on a substance and then collecting information about the light that comes off the substance.

Klar Scientific launched in 2016 in Pullman and has grown since then, just recently making its first profit, said Lytel.

Their business plan starts with an identification service where clients send in a sample and they identify it and send it back, he said.

The company stayed in Pullman to keep it under local control as opposed to a Silicon Valley investor, Lytel said.

“For now, we’ve got a nice little start up around the corner and I’m very pleased to be working with it,” he said. “I owe Pullman a real debt here… you are part of the community and the community has been very good to us.”

Bridget Clark, Girl Scout troop leader, brought six scouts to talk about a safety project.

Girl Scout troop 3210 asked the city council to make school zones safer for bikers and pedestrians.

Stopping speeding on Southeast Harvest Drive and Southeast Crestview is a priority for the Girl Scouts because many young students walk along those roads on their way to school.

There is a need in this community for more walker and biker signs in a clear view of drivers to protect pedestrians, they said. These kinds of signs are needed all around the town, but the city has to start somewhere.