Text below is as it appeared in 2018, and the issues are largely the same. Challenges of the Westside Plan are rapidly converging with general housing issues for Hood River – they now must be addressed as one.
Still problematic is that recommended strategies from the 2015 Housing Needs Analysis are being ignored, including code simplification and the establishment of simplified regulations for “cottage” developments and “planned unit developments.” For the Westside, add a parks deficiency – there are none.
If elected, I will propose that the Planning Department (and Commission) be directed to prioritize code simplification with guidance from home builders and developers. I believe Hood River can have regulations that incentivize the creation of attainable “missing middle” housing that also protect the character and livability of our neighborhoods.
o No Need to Rush – Up-zoning does not provide affordable housing
o We Meet Requirements of State Planning Goals
o Infrastructure Development and Funding First
o Address Low Impact Recommendations – e.g., ADUs and simplified code
We have a responsibility to balance housing availability and neighborhood character. This means avoiding turning Hood River into something unrecognizable. We must look again to the 2015 Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) when discussing the future of the Westside and be aware of the way this study has been thus-far exploited.
I am concerned that there is a rush to force a plan into place by implying a crisis and excluding contrary points-of-view, as this tactic has been used recently and very aggressively – the development of Morrison Park is one example. As acknowledged in the study, no evidence is provided in the 2015 HNA to support the assertion that up-zoning the Westside would create more housing – it is merely a hope by proponents of higher density. There are other tools available, such as simplifying code (called for in the 2015 HNA) and the long-overdue reform of the building department that would be immediately effective.
The Westside Area Concept Plan makes recommendations related to infrastructure and livability (e.g., parks) but skips over solutions regarding funding. Further, there is evidence that many Westside residents aren’t interested in having their lifestyles urbanized. They should be a big part of a more inclusive planning process.
Our children need parks, trails, safe streets and schools. Rushing toward a significant housing density increase before these issues are very specifically addressed and solved is irresponsible.