By Matthew Power. Some Indian reservations have loosened restrictions on residential development by third parties in recent years. But a building moratorium on the Tulalip (two-lay-lip) reservation in northwest Washington state suggests that one aspect of the "American Dream" has deeply colored this tribe's view of housing: Members want nothing to do with density.
"Quite honestly, we've had to put up with HUD housing, and we don't like houses stacked on top of each other," says John McCoy, executive director of governmental affairs for the tribe. "The tribal membership wants homes on one and a half acres and above--and no clustered housing at all."
A local developer recently built several multifamily suburbs for sale to the general public--two-story units of about 1,300 square feet, priced at about $150,000, an amount considered too expensive for most Tulalip tribe members.
After a special meeting with the whole tribe, Tulalip officials ordered a three-year moratorium on all building on the reservation. That decision may be challenged legally. It's not clear whether tribal reservation rights extend to land not yet purchased by the tribe.
The Tulalip tribe has fought hard to gain control of its 22,086-acre reservation. So far, it has purchased about 3,000 acres. But non-tribal owners still control more than 40 percent of the remaining acreage.
"We're pushing the county planning commission to make the appropriate changes," notes McCoy. "The main one is the removal of PDR [planned residential development]. That would not allow clustered development at all."
"We're hoping to slow down the speculators. It's having the desired effect. There's no interest in developing out here now. We've carved up 80 acres on our own. We're putting in utilities, so people can build their own homes," he adds.