o Fix Building Dept. / Expedite Permitting – Increase private housing starts
o Residential Development – Simplify and then follow code
o Facilitate Regional Housing Development – Affordable land allows affordable housing
o Encourage Low-Income Landlord Safety Compliance – Make current housing livable
o Assistance Priorities and Transparency – City oversight of tax-payer investments
Below I describe our housing challenges as I saw them in 2018, and the issues are largely the same. The Building Department was moved “in-house” but processes are still slow and require the use of contractors to handle overflow. I still consider this an opportunity for improvement.
Still problematic is that a large majority of the actions recommended in the strategies section of the 2015 Housing Needs Analysis have been ignored, including the establishment of simplified regulations for “cottage” developments and “planned unit developments.” Now, the City is proposing adoption of “missing middle” housing code designed for larger cities.
If elected, I will propose that the Planning Department (and Commission) be directed to prioritize code simplification with guidance from home builders and developers here, not from Salem and Portland. I believe Hood River can have regulations that incentivize the creation of attainable “missing middle” housing and also protect the character and livability of our neighborhoods.
We need officials willing to prevent harmful urban planning policies, such as reductions in parking requirements for new development, meant for larger cities from being implemented in Hood River.
Text from 2018 campaign:
The City has been using the 2015 Housing Needs Analysis as a decision-making tool. However, instead of utilizing common-sense recommendations from the study, it has used it to justify un-balanced and harmful measures.
Most concerning, however, is that active projects are still being slowed by the outsourcing of our building department. This has hampered free-market development and impedes housing supply – it should have been corrected long ago, and before interest rates started to rise. Barriers to private housing development could be further eased by following the recommendation to simplify our complicated building code.
The Housing Needs Analysis also makes clear that much of our buildable lands inventory for multi-family housing (to address affordability needs) exists in C-2 (Commercial) zones. For some reason, C-2 was then exempted from the Short-Term Rental code. The result has been a clustering of STRs, adding to downtown parking congestion and a spike in development of high-priced townhomes that are exempt from regulations. We were falsely assured that these actions would protect housing for residents and improve livability. Curiously, there is also evidence that proponents of the selective STR regulation are now profiting from this action.