The Classic - Cycle Oregon

Democrats in state Senate join Republicans to kill neighborhood income diversity bill

Posted by on July 2nd, 2015 at 8:24 am

Though the bill would have affected only condos and other owner-occupied homes, some rallied around it as a seemingly achievable way to preserve income diversity in bike-friendly areas like Southeast Division Street.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

A bill that would have let Oregon cities require some condominiums in some new housing projects to be sold for below-market prices reportedly died in the state Senate on Wednesday.

One leading advocate for inclusionary zoning, as such policies are known, said late Wednesday that Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Southeast Portland) had “opted against a final caucus on the bill, claiming that the votes aren’t there.”

“We believe otherwise,” added the advocate, Jonathan Ostar of Portland-based OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, in an email to supporters of House Bill 2564. “It’s beyond frustrating that the caucus won’t get to discuss this last amendment.”

The bill’s backers include the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Upstream Public Health and other groups looking for ways to keep Portland’s decade-long housing shortage from making it impossible for most people to afford homes in Portland’s bikeable, walkable neighborhoods.

Even advocates of inclusionary zoning regularly describe it as an incomplete, though useful, response to the massive problem of affordable housing. Because of the wording of a different Oregon law that bans rent control, HB 2564 as written probably couldn’t have be used to regulate prices in new apartment buildings. But advocates have pushed it as a way to preserve income diversity in resident-owned buildings and neighborhoods.

Opponents of inclusionary zoning, most notably the Oregon Home Builders Association, have argued that Oregon should continue forbidding its cities to enact laws that they see as violating private property rights.

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It’s a surprising turnaround for a bill that up until a month ago seemed likely to pass thanks to large Democratic majorities in both state houses.

As the bill neared death, its most powerful advocate seemed to be House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-North Portland. Here’s Ostar on her role:

Speaker Kotek went above and beyond, drafting a second amendment that reflected Builders’ ongoing concerns while staying firm on the integrity of the policy tool and flexibility for local jurisdictions statewide. She personally shopped the amendment to key Senators, and we believed we had a pathway to move the bill over these final few days. …

Speaker Kotek is calling for a hearing on her final amendment, which we support. It appears the legislature will be working through the weekend, which means there is time for something to shift, however unlikely. I will let folks know if there is any movement on her call for a hearing, which might provide us an opportunity to mobilize a final time this session to show Senate leadership the breadth of support for this bill. Practically speaking, we may not get much notice on this, but we’ll do what we can.

In the meantime, it would be great if folks could email/call/write thank you notes to the Speaker for her leadership. Eventually we’ll circle back with Reps. Williamson and Keny-Guyer and others who were instrumental in getting us this far, but for the moment, let’s make sure Speaker Kotek knows how much we appreciate her work. She definitely extended herself. This one lays squarely at the feet of current Senate leadership.

“Oregonians are feeling real impacts of a statewide housing crisis every day, so the Speaker believed it was important to continue working until the end of the session to give local governments this tool,” Lindsey O’Brien, Kotek’s spokeswoman, said in an email to The Oregonian Wednesday.

— The Real Estate Beat is a regular column. You can sign up to get an email of Real Estate Beat posts (and nothing else) here, or read past installments here.

Portland Century August 19th

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127 Comments
  • 9watts July 2, 2015 at 8:52 am

    We could also tweak our policies, laws, subsidies, etc. that incentivize growth, that subsidize people who move here. If we stopped wooing additional thousands to come live here, this could easily undo the upward pressure on rents as much as the zoning tweak this bill focused on might have.

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    • scott July 2, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Well…yeah, but have you ever really seen a ton of money? It’s pretty cool.

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      • Jeg July 2, 2015 at 4:38 pm

        Are you going to spontaneously excrete the resources and labor necessary to add needed housing? Greed isn’t the issue. Obstructionism of needed new housing is the corruption Portland needs to fight.

        You and people like you are reactionary and uninformed or intentionally trying to monkeywrench housing stock even more so land value (and your potential investments) will inflate faster than they are even now

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    • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 9:11 am

      What subsidies are available to people moving here? And why wasn’t I offerred them when I moved here?

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      • 9watts July 2, 2015 at 10:44 am

        Here’s a decent summary. At the link these are paired with a growth-neutral policy http://www.agoregon.org/page59.htm

        Infrastructure
        Free or subsidized public infrastructure to serve new development, such as new or expanded roads, sewer systems, water systems, schools, fire stations, libraries, etc.

        Economic Development Programs
        Most traditional economic development programs are designed to promote growth. They include a wide variety of tax subsidies and grants to new and expanding businesses, free employee training, free city consulting services, and many more programs used to stimulate business growth.

        Developer Incentives
        Examples include selling city-owned land to developers below full market value and public-private development partnerships where the public ends up with the short end of the stick.

        Development Services
        Not charging the full cost of processing building permits, reviewing plans and performing inspections.

        Land Use Planning
        Much of local government staff work on urban land use and transportation planning are part of the process of planning for and accommodating growth.

        Regulations
        Waiving environmental and land use regulations, or failing to enforce them, helps attract new industry at the public’s expense.

        Land Use Changes
        Rezoning land to allow developers to make more money off their projects (“windfall” profits)

        Affordable Housing Programs
        Poorly designed affordable housing programs can end up being big public growth subsidies that are a boon for residential developers.

        Federally-subsidized Road Building
        Many of the big road and bridge projects that encourage growth and sprawl are funded primarily by Federal taxpayers.

        Tax Increment Financing Districts
        TIF districts were created in the late 1960s and 1970s to channel local tax dollars to blighted downtowns. They exert a preemptive priority on the use of public funds for business and infrastructure expansion.

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        • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 11:45 am

          This list is hilarious. Developers pay $20-40,000 *a unit* in development charges, land use review fees and permitting fees. And yet somehow that counts as a subsidy?

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          • 9watts July 2, 2015 at 12:34 pm

            Are you asserting that the fees they pay now cover all the costs we might identify as arising in relation to the addition of new residents living in these locations? Because people who have tried to calculate these costs have in all cases I’m aware of concluded that they don’t.
            I don’t think this is a great mystery. Our elected officials, chambers of commerce, system of public finance, etc. all bend over backwards in their rush to incentivize new businesses to locate here, so to suggest as it seems you are that there are no financial dimensions to this is hard to reconcile.

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            • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 12:51 pm

              The Bureau of Development Services is self funded, and doesn’t receive General Fund dollars. They had to lay off most of their staff in the recession. Developers pay huge fees for infrastructure that the residents of their buildings don’t benefit from (see: building parks in East Portland using SDC dollars).

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            • Jayson July 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm

              You don’t seem to be familiar with what it takes to develop property in this region. There are no free handouts. $5,000 to just hook-up to the sewer for each new apartment. $5,000 per unit. That’s $500,000 for a 100-unit building to just hook up to the sewer! About $6,000 per unit to build new parks. Over $2,000 per unit for transportation charges, despite the City requiring the developer to pay for new streets and sidewalks adjacent to the project. The list goes on.

              Parks, streets, sewer improvements, etc benefit ALL of us. New development is subsidizing you, me, all of us. To say that new development doesn’t pay its fair share is BS. Seriously, look at the small towns that have zero new development and look at their financial situation. No new development and you get no new public things. Go put back your “welcome” mat and then stop griping about change and learn to live with it in a positive way.

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              • 9watts July 2, 2015 at 2:43 pm

                “To say that new development doesn’t pay its fair share is BS.”

                Can you be a little more specific? I’ve cited my sources.

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          • 9watts July 2, 2015 at 2:18 pm

            Here’s a bit more for you, maccoinnich.
            1998 Fodor & Associates.
            There probably are newer studies, or studies that look at the comparable infill costs which would obviously be lower, but I’m not aware of them.
            The total costs for the incremental capacity of the facilities required to serve new residential development amounts to approximately $33,260 for a typical new, three-bedroom single-family house.

            School Facilities – $11,809
            Sanitary Sewerage – $1,660
            Transportation Facilities – $4,430
            Water System Facilities – $2,729
            Parks and Recreation Facilities – $2,915
            Stormwater Drainage – $483
            Fire Protection Facilities – $298
            Library Facilities – $441
            Electric Power Generation and Distribution Facilities – $8,494
            Total: $33,259

            http://www.fodorandassociates.com/Reports/COG_OR_1998_Exec_Sum.pdf

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            • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 3:57 pm

              Well here the actual fees that the City of Portland charges for a single family home:

              School Facilities – $1.14 a square foot construction excise tax, which would be $2280 for a $2000 sq ft house. In addition voters passed a school bond in 2012 that will collect almost $500 million in property taxes.
              Sanitary Sewerage – $5,867
              Transportation Facilities – $2,814 (plus the actual cost of building the sidewalk and road, if they don’t already exist. This is easily $1000s.)
              Water System Facilities – $7,470 (which goes up a lot for houses that need a water meter larger that 5/8″)
              Parks and Recreation Facilities – $8,523, until next year, when it goes up substantially
              Stormwater Drainage – captured in sanitary, although water rates are also paying for the big pipe project
              Fire Protection Facilities – no SDC charged, but Portland Fire Bureau is funded through property taxes
              Library Facilities – voters passed a library bond in 2012
              Electric Power Generation and Distribution Facilities – this one I’ll admit I don’t know.

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              • 9watts July 3, 2015 at 8:29 am

                Thanks for finding those numbers. As the Fodor papers suggest, these SDCs should rightly be subtracted from the charges enumerated in their studies. So to the extent that Multnomah Co. or the City of Portland has seen fit to internalize these costs this is all to the good. But you will recall that the original list of ten subsidies that you found so laughable includes nine other categories besides the infrastructure subsidies.

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              • John Liu
                John Liu July 5, 2015 at 11:27 am

                And then the new house generates $5-7K/yr property tax indefinitely.

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              • Pete July 5, 2015 at 2:42 pm

                “Electric Power Generation and Distribution Facilities”

                Speculating that it may be to help repay back the stimulus funds that Obama allocated towards transmission line updates when he first got into office. BPA received a chunk of this, for instance, and was hiring lots of program and project managers at the time. For many of the years I lived in the gorge, we saw truck after truck hauling windmill parts to eastern WA and OR from the Port of Vancouver where they came in from China. Siemens and GE hired armies of contractors that rented places out here on stipends as they built up the facilities. The Columbia Gorge Community College created one of the first programs of its kind to help train the workforce (http://www.cgcc.edu/career-tech-ed/ret).

                But when they first came online, the problem was the combination of hydro, gas, and coal power, all co-located in the same region couldn’t be transmitted through the legacy T-lines that were mainly point-to-point. BPA (and others) built out more modern hub-based transmission solutions that helped get power where and when it was needed. (I suspect that modernization is still in progress today, but I haven’t heard much about it lately – would love to learn more about this from anyone in this biz…).

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        • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 11:47 am

          Also if zero / low growth works as a way to keep housing affordable, why is it that the Bay Area and the Los Angeles metro area aren’t full of low cost housing?

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          • 9watts July 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm

            “if zero / low growth works as a way to keep housing affordable”

            Don’t be absurd. The upward pressure on housing costs has everything to do with growth in the population demanding to live here, or growth in their appetites for square footage per person.
            Germany, where I grew up, has a comparatively speaking low rate of population growth, and the pressure on rents and housing costs more generally have been much lower there (a few metropolitan areas most notably Munich and Berlin excepted).
            The Bay Area and Los Angeles have not enjoyed anything anyone anywhere would consider zero or low growth rates in population in my lifetime or today, so I’m not sure why you chose those regions for your rebuttal.

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            • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm

              The site you linked to advocates for low / zero growth in our housing stock, which is exactly the policy that that has been pursued for decades in coastal California, whether intentionally or not.

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              • 9watts July 2, 2015 at 1:01 pm

                Not exactly.
                Alternatives to Growth Oregon advocated for policies that reward zero growth in people, consumption, and economic activity, not just housing stock. This is a much larger problem than how many units of housing we have/don’t have, which has been my larger point in these land use conversations here on bikeportland. By focusing only on the exogenous demand for housing we can’t hope to stay ahead of this, will always be picking up the pieces.

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              • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm

                What are your suggested policies for zero growth in people?

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              • rachel b July 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm

                I’m with you, 9watts. I wish it weren’t such a taboo subject, limiting our numbers (voluntarily). Incentives are a good idea. At present, we’re still incentivizing having kids, and burying our heads in the sand.

                This article’s a bit old but it offers some good thoughts. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/science/earth/bringing-up-the-issue-of-population-growth.html?_r=0

                from the article:
                “When Oregon State University released a study two years ago calculating the extra carbon dioxide emissions a person helps generate by choosing to have children, the researchers received hate mail labeling them “eugenicists” and “Nazis.”

                “There are important consequences to having children, and we tried to quantify them,” said Paul A. Murtaugh, an associate professor of statistics and one of the study’s co-authors. “It should be on the table. It needs to be.””

                And no, I don’t hate kids. 🙂

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              • 9watts July 3, 2015 at 8:07 am

                maccoinnich,
                I’m fully cognizant of the traps we eagerly set for each other when it comes to the subject of population policy, so will try to answer your questions as directly as I can without falling into any of them.
                In this country we have developed a long list of pronatalist policies, policies that explicitly encourage and reward fecundity. While these arguably made demographic sense in the 17th or 18th century, when our leaders were determined to fill up this large country with white people, today it is far less clear that this makes any sense. To give a concrete example: in 1970 the Rockefeller Commission examined this issue of population growth. The resulting (1972) report is found here:
                http://www.population-security.org/rockefeller/001_population_growth_and_the_american_future.htm#Letter%20of%20Transmittal

                I highly recommend reading it. The federal government which commissioned the study never did anything with it, by some estimates this was because of pressure from the Catholic Church. You may disagree with the findings or conclusions, and some members of the commission did so eloquently, but I don’t think it is adequate to dismiss the subject outright without at least reading the report. It is a very carefully assembled piece or work, and if you get nothing else from it, the socio-demographic makeup of the committee is to me at least a delightful insight into how we used to approach this kind of inquiry in this country.

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          • Pete July 6, 2015 at 4:03 pm

            Not sure if I understand your claims regarding the bay area. The housing prices and demand there are some of the highest in the country simply because so many people from all over the world want to live there. The job market is one of the hottest in the world, with Silicon Valley leaders continuing to lobby the government for more and more H1B visa allowances. As a result, the majority (and I mean literally, not figuratively) of the population in many bay area cities is Asian, and they are families having two or more children that their governments back home don’t allow them to have.

            As an aside, re: fees, my city (Santa Clara) only approved impact fees last year (from Santa Clara Weekly):
            “Council Approves Developer Fees – Last City in Area to Do So –
            At the June 25 [2014] meeting, the Council unanimously voted to enact development impact fees for new residential construction in the city. Final approval is slated for July 7. The new fees will be applied in phases and fully effective Jan. 1, 2015. Already approved projects wouldn’t be affected. …
            Santa Clara has about 2,100 new residential units proposed, in progress, or recently completed. While these will create significant new property tax revenue, the county and school district will receive 80 percent of it.
            The city’s only development fee dates from 1969 – $15 per bedroom, with a $50 cap – and netted the city $895 last year. Neighboring cities, by comparison, last year collected development fees ranging from $618,000 (Campbell) to $24 million (San Jose).”

            Incidentally, the percentage of my CA prop taxes that goes to schools is only slightly higher than my OR prop taxes (~70%). I like to point that out when people with school-aged children tell me I don’t pay my fair share in taxes to ride my bicycle on their roadways.

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    • Chris
      Chris July 2, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Sadly, one of the best ways to disincentivize people from moving here is to make housing costs so high it becomes less attractive.

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      • 9watts July 2, 2015 at 11:24 am

        And that is working so well right now.

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        • Jeg July 2, 2015 at 6:28 pm

          No, I actually think you’re afraid building more new housing *will* stabilize the market. Add along to that, you think no-growth makes sense. Hint: it doesn’t. People will move here anyway. I think youre smart enough to know that. I also think youre smart enough to know “no-growth” really means “no-planning.” People will move here anyway, and your approach will inflate the market through moratorium. Your points are a danger to housing access to the poor and middle class.

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          • 9watts July 3, 2015 at 8:43 am

            “no-growth” really means “no-planning.”

            Nothing could be further from the truth, Jeg. Given that we’ve ‘enjoyed’ a century(?) of growth-drenched policies it will take a Herculean PLANNING effort to undo those, and to substitute zero-growth policies for them. Just to avoid all the xenophobic and racist landmines we’ve planted for ourselves in this subject will take careful PLANNING.

            I take these conversations here as opportunities to learn from each other, discover holes in our arguments, appreciate nuances we hadn’t considered. None of have all the answers. Nor do the present conversations include all perspectives. I wish—and have said so here repeatedly—that you, Jeg, would refrain from pigeonholing your interlocutors in these comments. Your attempts to second guess me, never mind others, are consistently wide of the mark, so perhaps you could focus on the subject matter instead, allow that the rest of us might know things you don’t, also have valid perspectives.

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    • Jayson July 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      I missed that check when I moved here… Exactly where did I get that free handout or enticement to move here? Attitudes like this should be enough to discourage people from moving here, but they’re not. People move here despite the unfriendly locals wishing things were back to how they used to be, and certainly not because of any subsidies. This is a free country and people are able to move and live wherever they want. To even pretend to have any ability to discourage people from moving somewhere is the height of conceit. Perhaps you can talk to Donald Trump about some sort of wall.

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      • 9watts July 3, 2015 at 7:36 am

        “To even pretend to have any ability to discourage people from moving somewhere is the height of conceit.”

        My, aren’t we in a friendly mood today.

        Between ‘$33,000/household subsidy’ and ‘ability to discourage’ there’s quite a bit of middle ground you’re skipping over. I’m suggesting we interrogate the subsidies, and have the conversation about what we want our city to be like going forward, about who benefits and who loses if we just roll over and continue to *encourage* another 100,000 or another million people to join us.
        You talk as if there were an iron law of accommodation, a compulsion to make room whenever anyone wants to move here, no matter the costs. Who decreed this? Why in our policies and priorities do we always privilege those yet to come (expand UGB, widen freeways, adjust zoning to make room) over those already here, who keep getting kicked to the curb because they can’t afford to live here anymore (homeless, poor people, renters priced out)? Is it (among many reasons perhaps also) because some people stand to get even richer if we pursue the growth-at-all-costs approach?

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        • lop July 3, 2015 at 11:08 am

          What set of policies do you want that keep the well off from elsewhere from outbidding existing residents? Freeze construction, and do ______ to keep existing apartments and houses from getting fixed up to sell or rent to people who would have moved into a new building if you didn’t take the choice away from them.

          What if the majority comes up with a scheme to restrict development and it has the effect of pricing out many existing residents rather than just turn away new ones. That’s where we are today. Why would eliminating development completely lead to a better outcome for existing residents who don’t own their homes already? What’s missing to keep outsiders out? And whatever policies you come up with, is it fair for existing residents to tell outsiders they aren’t welcome? Once upon a time you depended on existing residents to let you or your forebearers in. What right do you have to shut the gates now that you’re inside?

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          • 9watts July 4, 2015 at 7:33 am

            Lop,
            your questions are good ones. I just wish they were phrased in a way that suggested you were really interested in the answers rather than lining up all the straw men.

            I’m curious if you are really intending to suggest there is no issue here?
            Or perhaps that there is an issue, just nothing we can do about it?
            Or is it your view that the status quo is, by definition, the better situation?

            There are many possible directions we could take this if we were in a constructive mood. As I have said here before, the first thing I’d suggest is interrogating and discontinuing all the subsidies that presently accompany our policies encouraging people to move here. Alternatives to Growth Oregon did a bunch of work on this in the late nineties/early oughts. Once we’ve done that, and worked hard to encourage public conversations about community goals, regional goals, tradeoffs from pursuing this or that course, we’ll be in a much better place to generate and build support for ideas that seek to bring about different outcomes from the one we’re now sleepwalking into.

            As for how to keep the well off outsiders from outbidding existing residents? That is a good question. How about this for starters? Having had the larger conversation here, locally, about what kind of Portland, or what kind of Oregon, we’d like to build—what the costs and benefits of our present approach are—I don’t suppose it would be unthinkable to come up with local right-of-first-refusal schemes: Properties are first advertised on Nextdoor, currently a neighborhood level discussion forum. If sellers and buyers could agree that there are community benefits to be had from selling to each other this could work. In this manner, then, properties that are for sale might rarely spill into the larger real estate pools. The particulars are less important I think than the fact that *we could find solutions to all of these problems, if we as a community agreed that the results would be worth it.*

            You ask: “What if the majority comes up with a scheme to restrict development and it has the effect of pricing out many existing residents rather than just turn away new ones.”

            What if we tell PDC to figure out how to counteract this? I don’t have a ready answer for this one, but I’m sure there are lots of smart people who’ve thought about this. But, again, without backing up and acknowledging the social and economic and environmental costs of our past (and present) pronatalist policies we’re unlikely to make inroads here. Population growth, the pressure of always more people, exacts its toll, and no amount of end-of-pipe hand-wringing is going to change that; what’s needed is a reevaluation of our misguided policies and a far-reaching conversation about why and how to change course; what behaviors to reward that will align with the kind of future we want, that we can afford.
            I don’t have all the answers, but I do know when what we’re doing isn’t working, when it is time to stop digging.

            “And whatever policies you come up with, is it fair for existing residents to tell outsiders they aren’t welcome? Once upon a time you depended on existing residents to let you or your forebearers in. What right do you have to shut the gates now that you’re inside?”

            A familiar if also pretty unimaginative retort. I would suggest that our current approach is profoundly unfair. I’d like to think up a universally fair policy, but I’m afraid we’ve screwed things up now for so long that this could be tough. I agree that it is probably not fair for existing residents to tell outsiders they aren’t welcome, just as it wasn’t fair for us (previous outsiders) to kick the Native Americans who were already here out, without asking. But your familiar retort is always deployed, not as an honest question but as an excuse for doing nothing; to mask the very real unfairness of our current growth obsessed policies with talk of the hypothetical unfairness of discouraging in-migration.
            I happen to think that what I’m proposing is less unfair; that those who already live here but have gotten the short end of the stick are more deserving of our public efforts, our tax dollars, than businesses and people who are not currently here. I feel a greater commitment to the poor and the homeless in Multnomah County than I feel for the businesses and rich people from elsewhere that our city leaders keep wooing to move here. And you might agree that we don’t have funds, capacity, the wherewithal to do both well.

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            • lop July 4, 2015 at 11:05 pm

              What sort of issues? Global issue? Maybe. The ‘carrying capacity’ of the planet is dependent on many factors, technological developments can shift it upwards. If it couldn’t, the mass starvations predicted decades ago would’ve come to pass. If you have any global stuff in mind, and that is a legitimate topic to discuss, I’d say forget Portland and worry about Nigeria. Population distribution and national population are separate issues too. So let us stick to local stuff, only worrying about effects of local Portland area population changes.

              My view is that I don’t think increasing population in the Portland area has to be a bad thing. But it isn’t necessary to make the region a better place either (though agglomeration tends to produce greater wealth density). I don’t see a reason to stop the influx of people to the region or encourage it.

              Discontinuing subsidies sounds good. But I don’t understand all that well which of the subsidies you mention are supposed to be for outsiders, which are for children of insiders (to be treated how…?), and which are for insiders that aren’t children. There seems to be a whole lot of overlap. If the city covers some of the cost of some public upgrades, sewer pipes, extra buses etc…to allow a house to be replaced with an apartment with five times as many people, who does that benefit? What about a new road and other infrastructure to serve growth in Happy Valley who does that benefit? I think the county sending the most people to Clackamas County is Multnomah.

              If you want to increase access to abortion, increase sex ed and give out free contraceptives, great. Not necessarily to limit population growth though.

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            • lop July 4, 2015 at 11:06 pm

              You want a homeowner’s neighbors to decide whether he is only allowed to sell to an existing resident (here for how long?) or is permitted to sell to an outsider? If you drastically limit the supply of housing available to those not born and raised in Portland, then what do you say to someone born in a suffering logging town elsewhere in the state who wants to move to a new city? Or someone priced out of NYC, SF, or Seattle? Try Eugene? Unless you’re loaded, then you can afford one of the few units that come available.

              It’s a system that wouldn’t scale, or at least shouldn’t be scaled. Freedom of movement should not be limited to the rich. I don’t have a way to be alright with saying to that person who didn’t have the good fortune to be born in the part of the country they want to live in that Portland is closed to them. I wasn’t born where I wanted to live.

              “What if we tell PDC to figure out how to counteract this?” – if freedom of movement is maintained, I don’t see how that’s possible.

              If you worry about the poor, I assume you have in mind to help the underhoused, not just the homeless. Everybody who has roommates they dislike only because they can’t afford to live alone, every adult child who lives with their parents only because they can’t afford their own place etc…

              The only way I see to help them, as well as the significantly smaller population living in shelters or on the street, is exactly what you seem not to want: growth in housing stock, consumption, and economic activity. If enough area residents were willing to make significant sacrifices to help those less well off, then there would be a properly financed system of health care, education, housing, and job training for the homeless and many others. There isn’t. To help those with less then you need the wealth that can come with greater agglomeration too – the local population growth you seek to avoid.

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              • 9watts September 24, 2015 at 8:10 am

                Your posts here are great; I really enjoy them. But the part I don’t understand is your privileging freedom of movement (for those who wish to move here) over the prospects of those under- and ill-housed who are already here. Your solution to the latter is to build more housing, but as I’ve argued here repeatedly, focusing always and only on the supply, and deliberately skipping over any discussion of demand doesn’t really solve anything, kicks the can down the road, makes eventual reckoning that much harder. What kind of a Portland or San Francisco would we have if we scaled your build, build, build up and let it run for a few decades?
                I’ve never been to Sao Paolo, but knowing what I know about the scale of the place I have to say that figuring out how to address population growth and its causes seems vastly easier than building, building, building to try to accommodate what we know is a potentially unlimited tide of humanity. Sooner or later we’ll have to stop growing—that much is a simple mathematical insight—so why not figure it out sooner?

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  • scott July 2, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Hahaha! The banner on this page is for a condo thing called Hassalo on Eighth or something. That’s awesome.

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    • Craig Harlow July 2, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Apartments, Scott.

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      • scott July 2, 2015 at 1:24 pm

        I miss your point, Craig.

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    • Huey Lewis July 2, 2015 at 9:52 am

      Have you seen what they rent for? It’s so depressing.

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  • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 9:19 am

    The bigger problem I see is that we’re barely building any condos at all. The Cosmopolitan, a luxury tower under construction at NW 10th and Northrup, is literally the only large condo building going up in the entire city. I think there’s massive market for people who want to own a place in close in Portland at a reasonable price, and there’s just nothing being built for them.

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    • Nick Falbo July 2, 2015 at 10:22 am

      As someone that just purchased a close in condo, I concur. In my price range I could afford condo close-in or a small beat-up house 5 miles from downtown. I can’t be the only one in this situation, and I can only imagine that having more for-purchase options close-in is a good thing for a future biking city.

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      • oliver July 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm

        And most small beat-up houses are being replaced by two giant 1/2 million dollar houses.

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      • davemess July 2, 2015 at 12:52 pm

        Did you guys move out of FoPo Nick?

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        • Nick Falbo July 2, 2015 at 1:24 pm

          Sadly, I did. (My ex-wife might still be in the neighborhood though.)

          It’s been a weird year full of change, but I am very excited about whats next.

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          • davemess July 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

            Sorry to hear that. Good luck going forward.

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  • Dave July 2, 2015 at 9:26 am

    wtf; property rights over breathing rights.

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  • J_R July 2, 2015 at 9:29 am

    As I’ve said previously on this forum, requiring developers to sell some units below market requires that the others be sold for higher prices to offset their costs. Key components of the building (roof, foundation, elevators, fire suppression, permits, etc.) cost the same regardless of whether the units sell for $100k or $200k. The developer must cover all costs and make a modest profit.

    Just because I make a bit more than the average and can afford to buy an average house doesn’t mean that I want to pay $5k extra so that somebody else can pay $5k or $20k less.

    And for all of you who think developers make a ton of money, I suggest that you invest in a developer. Plenty of homebuilders are publicly traded companies. You can also buy a mutual fund such as FSHOX or an exchange traded fund like ITB that includes lots of homebuilders and related companies. You can invest in these in your IRA.

    If you want to encourage less expensive housing, you can seek to change the zoning code to allow smaller houses, smaller lots, reduced setbacks, etc.

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    • Pete July 2, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Very good points, but there are also federal subsidies that allow developers to offset those costs and sell housing below market value. There are several developments in Hood River that have taken advantage of this (i.e. Katie’s Way), and I can introduce you to their builders (one is Katie’s dad ;).

      Where I live now (silicon valley), we face the same inequities on a grander scale. We listen to some city councilors profess that we need to build more housing with 15-20% percentage below-market units, while others debate that it’s a bubble and we should hold on to commercial land and stop converting so much of it to housing. (The minimum wage debate ties in closely here as well – can small business support $15/hour?). Meanwhile Irvine continues to put up 1000+ unit buildings with 10% at most for below-market rate units, which still put them renting out at $3K for two bedrooms (but you get parking and a gym).

      We worry about where all the new Apple developers will live, yet I think we should be more concerned with the people who will empty their trash cans and wash their dishes. We still haven’t made progress in forcing the 49’ers to keep open the trail that many Google employees bike to work on. (We told the city that the new stadium would impact the public trail, but instead of addressing the problem then, it got buried in the EIR and passed CEQA with flying colors – money talks, bicyclists walk).

      As far as bicycling goes, we continue to remind our city council that people could actually live better without the high financial impact of a personal car if we actually pretended to be the Bronze city we are and invested in better bike/ped infrastructure. (I’ve never seen a place so well-suited to bike commuting, being entirely flat, sunny almost all year round with little rain, and wide shoulders and pretty good infrastructure already in place). Also, neither car nor bike share has really hit our city yet, though it’s started to grow in neighboring cities. But yet their focus remains on the ‘traffic’ crisis impacting our growing city…

      Sorry, I digressed a little, but I feel better now… 😉

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    • Chris
      Chris July 2, 2015 at 10:23 am

      I’m not sure this is true. New units are sold for as much as people will pay. If some units are subsidized, it doesn’t create a pool of buyers who are willing to pay more. If the new units could be sold for a higher price, you can be that the developer would sell them at that new price, regardless of whether he had built any below-market units.

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      • J_R July 2, 2015 at 11:28 am

        You’re right that developers sell for what people will pay. So if a developer is required to sell 20 percent of his units for less than market price and can only get x for the other units, where x is what people will pay, he evaluates his overall costs. If he can’t cover his costs and make a reasonable profit, he simply won’t pursue the project. The below market units contribute to his costs and provide nothing toward profit.

        If his units happen to come on the market at just the right time and finds lots of people looking, a developer will absolutely price them at the high end of the range. If they sell quickly, he makes a better than usual profit. However, it’s just as likely that the developer will get his units to market at a bad time and will have to discount them to get them sold. Keep in mind that he had to start his project at least a year, or more likely two years, earlier. He had to pay for the design, permits, borrow the money for construction, paying a high interest rate on construction loans the whole time. It’s a risky business.

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        • Jayson July 2, 2015 at 1:54 pm

          You’re totally on point. This bill would’ve resulted in less housing development, which would hurt everyone. If the developer can’t make a profit, there’s no project. Meanwhile, we need more housing for the rest of us in the middle that aren’t rich or poor. This really seems like bad public policy.

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        • Chris
          Chris July 2, 2015 at 2:28 pm

          I mostly agree; the cost of requiring below-market prices for some units is not that the other units will be more expensive, but rather that some projects won’t get built. However, where I disagree is that in this climate, I think developers face very low risk.

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          • J_R July 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm

            Then become a developer or invest in a developer. I’ve looked at the numbers and the development game not for me. It’s way too risky for me.

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          • Pete July 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm

            Not sure I’d agree that building development is “low risk.” I have a few friends in that biz and they are always on one end of a lawsuit or the other. City building departments are notoriously fickle, and the rules of the game (i.e. zoning) seem to change frequently, especially with PUDs. I thought about getting into that at one point (and have RE investment experience), but got scared away.

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    • lop July 2, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      In some pricier neighborhoods where the cost of land is a significant contributor to the cost of housing you can make some affordable to the middle class units by offering a density bonus, something like this:

      http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/264639-138052-taller-downtown-buildings-could-bring-more-affordable-housing

      It doesn’t do much for the bottom, at least not directly, but for the segment of the population that can afford the cost of construction excluding land it’s useful.

      Better would be to just allow bigger buildings, smaller units within them, and more efficiently use the existing parking supply instead of mandating new parking.

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  • Terry D-M July 2, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Though this bill was WEAK TEA, it would have helped those of us working on zoning in the fast gentrifying neighborhoods. The fact that something as easy as “lifting a local pre-emption” can be so complex tells me that the upper 1% have a LOCK on Salem.

    This bill should have been a no-brainer. “Let us lift the preemption for Portland as there is a housing crises.” Yet the “Democrats” in Salem can not stand on their own feet.

    I am VERY disappointed in Salem…..there are more than a few “Democrats” that need to chnage parties to reflect their true nature…..as they really act and vote like republicans.

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    • Alex Reed July 2, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Did unions have a stance on this? I would hope they would support it in favor of working class affordability but I fear that they sided with the OHBA’s “jobs”-scaring or stayed neutral.

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    • jeffb July 2, 2015 at 10:21 am

      How about ‘senate democrats’? Tina worked really hard for this.

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    • Tait July 3, 2015 at 6:46 am

      You can disagree about what the solution should be, but as the comments here show, reasonable people can agree with the senate democrats and still support other approaches to limiting gentrification. There’s no evidence of “the 1%” having a lock on anything here.

      (It’s cliche to say, but as usual, if you don’t like the position your representatives are taking, vote for someone else next election.)

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  • eyestrain July 2, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I’m going to repeat what maccoinnich said earlier. The lazy interchangeable use of condo when you mean apartment is really annoying me lately. I’ve seen it all around in Portland publications when talking about the recent building boom. Condos are for sale, apartments are for rent. There is a huge difference. If there were condos for sale at the equivalent rate that these apartments are being rented we’d have a different conversation going on. Spending 1500 on rent is vastly different than spending 1500 on something you own. When the two words are used incorrectly articles take on entirely false or different meanings. The buildings on both side of the street in the photo above are apartments. The previous poster is correct, the Boora project in the pearl is really the only new large scale condo project happening in portland right now that I can think of and I work in the architecture industry. It’s all apartments everywhere right now!

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Yes, condos and apartments are different. This bill would have applied only to condos.

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      • Jeg July 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm

        This is exactly why I think this “effort” was a sham. They put on a show for renter rights, while it was never even intended to help renters. Shame on these farces! We need inclusionary zoning for rental units and rent stabilization on all others.

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        • J_R July 2, 2015 at 7:54 pm

          Inclusionary zoning will reduce new construction. Rent stabilization will ensure that landlords cannot afford to maintain or upgrade their units and that occupants will cheat landlords by subletting in violation of their leases to keep the rents low. A perfect prescription for a shortage of housing and dilapidated housing. No thanks.

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          • Jeg July 2, 2015 at 10:56 pm

            All of which overcomeable with some oversight. But apparently that’s an impossibility to some; not to me.

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  • Joseph E July 2, 2015 at 10:47 am

    So no one is building Condos in Portland right now, and we want to discourage condos being built by adding on this hidden tax / unfunded mandate on condos?

    This law would make new market-rate condos more expensive, which means that fewer of them will be built. More people will be stuck renting when they want to buy in the city, or will have to buy out in the suburbs and suffer a long commute – most likely by car.

    Rather than “inclusionary zoning”, we need zoning reform so that cheaper, smaller homes can be built. More backyard cottages, duplexes, 4-plexes, small apartments etc, without parking requirements. Open up single-family areas to adding more homes, and make it easier for individuals and small builders to add infill. This will actually help the real problem: lack of supply.

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  • Chris
    Chris July 2, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Large areas of Portland’s inner residential areas are built to a density of R5, but are zoned as R2.5, which would allow twice the number of houses to be built. In some cases this is happening, but in other cases, people are simply building larger houses on these lots. So in many places, most of what you want is possible.

    And every time a small house is “redeveloped”, what replaces it costs more, so even as the neighborhoods get more dense, they also become more expensive (and lose a bit of their architectural heritage).

    I am not convinced this is a problem we can build our way out of.

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    • soren July 2, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      We could build our way out of this if we reformed residential zones to allow attached duplexes, single room occupancy, multi-dwelling structures (cottage apts), and group structures (garden low-rise apartments) by default. We are the only major west coast city that limits residential code to detached single family dwellings by default (except for duplexes on corners).

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      • Chris
        Chris July 2, 2015 at 1:13 pm

        Most zones already allow “cottage apartments”; existing houses can be converted to SROs (at least unofficially… housemates!), and much of the inner SE is already zoned for higher density than currently exists. With housing prices as high as they are, the only attractive redevelopment sites are those occupied by a cheap (i.e. starter) house, and those sites are disappearing fast, along with our most affordable houses.

        Even with our existing rules, there’s room for lots more density.

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        • soren July 3, 2015 at 10:14 am

          You are mistaken.

          https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/index.cfm?c=34560&a=53295

          Attached Duplexes — Only in Planned Developments, See Chapter 33.638.

          Multi-dwelling structure — Only in Planned Developments, See Chapter 33.638

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          • soren July 3, 2015 at 10:15 am

            And:

            Group structure Only when in conjunction with an approved conditional use.

            My understanding that this requires a specific development and there is a specific multi-unit code that is typically used for these types of planned developments. They are exceedingly rare in Portland by design.

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          • Chris
            Chris July 3, 2015 at 12:07 pm

            It is true that some of the specific development forms you cited are not permitted in R2.5, but I stand by my statement: existing zoning does permit a much higher density than we currently have.

            If people took on more housemates, built ADUs, and replaced their houses with two houses (or 3 on corner lots, in R2.5 zones) we would easily double our current density. All of that can be done with the current zoning rules.

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            • lop July 3, 2015 at 1:53 pm

              Redevelopment means paying the replacement cost of the existing structure and the construction cost of the new structure. Only doubling density on a lot means it is hard to build for the middle class, because they often can’t afford half the replacement cost of the original structure. Triple density and they only pay a third of it etc…until you need concrete and steel in large structures it’s cheaper then to increase density further.

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  • Matthew in Portsmouth July 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

    I think that if we need to provide subsidized housing to low income residents the most appropriate way to do that is via public housing. We should appropriate money to the Housing Authority of Portland to purchase houses/condos on the open market and rent them to low income tenants for the lower of 30% of household income or market rent. Condo rules should be incorporated into the tenant’s lease, and the tenant should be evicted if they fail to pay their rent or otherwise breach their lease. I’ve seen this work quite well in other parts of the world – you get integrated housing without disturbing the market. Many condo developments already have a significant number of rentals so it would not be a huge change for many developments.

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    • Chris
      Chris July 2, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      I think this might be a good approach, especially if the subsidized units are not concentrated in one building/area, but are instead integrated into the fabric of the wider community.

      The only real drawback is that this would be very expensive; the money would need to come from somewhere. I would be willing to pay more taxes to support this, but many would not.

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    • Pete July 2, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      During the 2008 downturn when my friend lost his job, he used his savings to buy foreclosed properties. He worked on them to correct any problems, mostly plumbing fixtures and paint, some broken windows or doors. He then put them into service under HUD section 8. He’s now up to twelve properties in three different states, gets paid directly by the government, and most of his tenants are fixed-income senior citizens who haven’t given him any problems (contrary to the drug-related horror stories you often hear about HUD projects). The market has since recovered to where his investment was pennies on the dollar, the housing remains affordable for his tenants, no zoning or architectural changes necessary, and his equity has gone through the roof. For the most part he’s had no issues, and he’s now gone back to work full time. Your tax dollars at work…

      I think what you recommend is one of a few good approaches to combat this ever-increasing problem.

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  • rachel b July 2, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I appreciate the commenters here remarking on the dearth of condos and the City’s emphasis on supporting the building of apartments. This has really puzzled me–I’d think Portland would want to incentivize ownership over attracting a transient population (though I recognize apartment dwellers stick around longer nowadays). Can anyone explain why Portland leadership is focusing so hard on apartments!apartments!apartments! ?

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    • Chris
      Chris July 2, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      I think it’s developers who decide whether to rent or sell the units they build. They’ve obviously concluded that they will make more money by renting rather than selling. This economics may change over time, if/when it does, I’d expect to see apartments being converted to condos and sold.

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      • Matthew in Portsmouth July 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm

        And banks. It is much easier to get a loan to build a rental building than a condo. A rental building will start bringing in revenue as soon as the certificate of occupancy is issued and apartments are rented. Condos you need to wait until buyers start to close. A condo is much riskier for a bank, so they tend to favor rentals.

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      • NC July 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm

        One of the main reasons Developers build Apartments over Condos is because of Class Action Owner Lawsuits if there is something wrong with them. One owner has a patch of mold, and every owner in the building joins the lawsuit. I do not believe that Tenants in an Apartment building poise such a high financial threat to the Developers and Insurance companies.

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      • Pete July 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        One speculation is that it may be a hedge against the ever-looming threat of rising interest rates. As owner of an Oregon condo / association, though, it may also be the current market. Prices for condos really took a hit in the downturn and haven’t recovered as well as single-family dwellings; one owner in our building paid $265K but just dropped her unit from $250 to $245 in an attempt to sell fast (she’s purchased another house already). She still has plenty of showings, but no offers yet.

        Condos are a different beast – you’re subject to monthly HOA fees, and you don’t always get a direct vote on their increases. Our (required) business insurance hasn’t gone up all that much (fortunately), but I’m told by my agent that it’s not worth it to shop anymore, as underwriters no longer want anything to do with condos – and banks aren’t so eager to loan on them anymore either (I’m told). For aging buildings (like ours) there has to be a solid fund in place, or there’s the threat of an assessment for paint, roof/gutter repairs, etc. Another situation I’ve encountered is that insurance underwriters (and banks) demand a certain percentage of owner occupation – too many rentals jeopardize your loan or coverage, and I can tell you from experience that bylaws are difficult to enforce because they typically carry no leverage until you enter a small claim or civil suit.

        OTOH, they may work for people who are downsizing, for instance, or don’t mind paying fees for someone else to do their business and upkeep, etc. As a mid- to long-term owner they can also give you a more affordable alternative to a single family while gaining equity and the tax deduction of a mortgage over a house or apartment.

        OK, sorry, I’m babbling again. Stay cool out there!

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        • Pete July 2, 2015 at 3:22 pm

          And you’re right – our builder managed our condos as apartments and converted when it made more sense for him to cash out to build stick-builts. (I bought in early and finished the repairs, remodels, and the legal conversion, and was thus able to negotiate a good deal in the process).

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    • Daniel Costantino July 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      I doubt this is City leadership focusing on apartments. To be perfectly frank, City leaders seem to have rather little to say regarding housing policy.

      Developers switched massively from building condos to building apartments after condos (mostly high-end) flopped big-time in 2008 and developers were forced to convert huge expensive projects to rentals.

      The city controls zoning, but as I understand it zoning generally doesn’t distinguish between ownership and rental housing. The only development the City does is what precious little gets built by the Portland Housing Bureau. As for everything else, the Bureau of Development Services just processes whatever applications come to them.

      If multi-family developers overwhelmingly want to build apartments rather than condos, it follows that most new multi-family buildings will be apartments.

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      • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 1:01 pm

        You’re right: neither the Portland Zoning Code nor the State Building Code makes a distinction between condos and apartments.

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    • maccoinnich July 2, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      I don’t think the City has anything to do with one way or another. I’ve heard it said that banks are still extremely unwilling to finance condos, but I don’t fully understand why (they seem happy to finance mcmansions again).

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      • rachel b July 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm

        Thanks all for the responses. That all makes sense–I recall the condo bust in 2008 and all the shiny new condo buildings converting to apartments. But we’re beyond booming in Portland now, and have been for some time, so why isn’t the pendulum swinging back the other way? That’s always how it worked in the past. RE: the financiers being risk-averse (again, makes sense), why then are condos booming in Brooklyn and Seattle? And (until very recently) Miami? I’m flummoxed.

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        • Tait July 3, 2015 at 7:16 am

          Speaking anecdotally for myself, I don’t want anything to do with a condo. They don’t move with the general housing or rental market (so equity is unpredictable), and you get the worst of all worlds. You have neighbors sharing walls all around like an apartment; you are constrained in what modifications are allowed; you don’t have amenities like land, a garden, storage, or even a hose to wash down your bike; you have restrictions on pets; you have to deal with HOA costs and headaches; and like a house, you have the same limited ability to move; you generally have lax enforcement of community rules; you’re stuck with the same neighbors (for better or worse) usually for a long time, and you’re liable for the property taxes and upkeep costs.

          Maybe I’m atypical. And given what housing prices are doing, maybe I’m just being unrealistic. But either way, a condo would be a third or fourth choice for me, definitely not a first.

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          • Pete July 3, 2015 at 6:23 pm

            AND… if you ever become President of the HOA, it’s nearly impossible to resign!

            I’ve lucked out with mine… but not without some major headaches. I wouldn’t do it again.

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    • Tyler July 2, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      It is not that Portland leadership is focused on the multi-family rental (apartment) market, but the fact the finance market has been risk averse when it comes to multi-family ownership (condos) due to a number of factors. The biggest issue is construction defect law and the chilling effect that litigation on new construction projects has had on the condo market.

      The issue of a relatively low amount of attached multi-family zoning (row homes, townhomes and stacked single family) is a real thing. Yes there is some R2.5 zoning in the inner neighborhoods but it is relatively sparse and located in inner SE Buckman, inner North Boise-Eliot and along Interstate MAX in Overlook and Arbor Lodge. While R2.5 technically is a zone that allows the “missing middle” housing market as has been described, it is R2 that allows better utilization of our 5,000 and 10,000 square foot lot patterns in the inner neighborhoods.

      The ongoing affordability issues will have a major impact on the short and long-term livability of our city and solving the problem is going to take some serious collaboration and re-alignment of our priorities to move towards a vision of a truly equitable city.

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  • davemess July 2, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    “making it impossible for most people to afford homes in Portland’s bikeable, walkable neighborhoods.”

    There are two sides to that coin, the other solution is to make more of our currently affordable neighborhoods more bikeable and walkable.

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    • Chris
      Chris July 2, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      Doing so will make them more attractive, causing an inflow of new residents, which will drive prices up and current residents out.

      To be clear, I am a strong proponent of making more neighborhoods better places to walk and bike, but doing so will make them less affordable.

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      • davemess July 2, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        Yes, there really are no easy answers here.
        Potentially that might free up more housing/space in other neighborhoods (but also displace people).

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        • Chris
          Chris July 2, 2015 at 3:05 pm

          If you want to keep housing prices low in a neighborhood, keep the crime rate up and the infrastructure broken. Make sure there are no good places to shop or eat, and, above all, make sure the schools suck.

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  • RH July 2, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    How is a neighborhood income diversity article related to cycling? Is it implying that only low income folks use bikes?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Are low income folks the only people you’ve heard complaining about Portland housing prices lately, RH?

      To answer more directly: it’s related because to increase the number of people biking, it’s very important to make it possible for everyone who wants to live a bike-oriented lifestyle to do so. There are already plenty of people who aren’t inclined to do so; it’s bad that so many people who do want to get around by bike are being priced into neighborhoods where they can’t easily do so.

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      • rainbike July 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm

        Opinion stated as fact. One of my pet peeves on BP. Another way to put this is, “It would be very nice if everyone who wanted to live a bike-oriented lifestyle could, safely and easily. But sadly, just like everyone who wants a pony, isn’t going to get a pony, this lifestyle may not be possible for all to achieve.”

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 2, 2015 at 6:28 pm

          If it helps, I have a similar opinion about ponies – it would be nice if everyone could afford a pony. 🙂

          Anyway, looking for ways to achieve the difficult but desirable has never stopped BikePortland from covering different facets of a pro-biking agenda. Affordable housing within bike-friendly parts of Portland is definitely part of such an agenda.

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  • Tom July 2, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    A standard lot can support 4 car-free ‘tiny houses’ with reduced setback and still good separation. Not everyone needs or wants a huge house, or wants to rent, or needs a car. Allow and encourage more options and prices pressures will drop.

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    • Matthew in Portsmouth July 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      In theory they’re car free, but there is nothing to stop someone buying a tiny house and buying a car or two that they park on the street. I lived in NYC for ten years and almost no one had parking, but they still bought cars and looked for free on street parking.

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      • Janet July 2, 2015 at 4:40 pm

        I agree. There should be no free on-street parking if demand exceeds supply.

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  • Rob Chapman July 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I did the same thing at the bottom of the market Nick. I’m glad I did because my mortgage is less than what I’d be paying for rent at my old place in Sunnyside. The rate of change in this town is mind-blowing.

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  • Jeg July 2, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    What you fail to understand is even if people stop spawning, there’s a demand for the cachet of this city. We must build. And the UGB is why we must build up. No-growth is a dekusional philosophy that will only help lamd speculators inflate their investments due to shortage.

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    • Jeg July 2, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Meant for 9watts comment, “Not exactly.
      Alternatives to Growth Oregon advocated for policies that reward zero growth in people, consumption, and economic activity, not just housing stock. This is a much larger problem than how many units of housing we have/don’t have, which has been my larger point in these land use conversations here on bikeportland. By focusing only on the exogenous demand for housing we can’t hope to stay ahead of this, will always be picking up the pieces.”

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    • 9watts July 3, 2015 at 7:52 am

      “We must build.”
      This is your favorite fallback, here, Jeg. And I am well aware that on this many commenters here may, if tacitly, agree with you. But this is at least to me an utterly uninspiring vision, a compulsion, a ham-fisted edict with which you seek to bludgeon anyone who might have a different opinion. You have so far in our lengthy exchanges on this subject never troubled yourself to engage much less answer my questions about why you are unwilling to think beyond this lose-lose framework, allow that there could be other solutions that do not fit neatly within your binary worldviews as expressed in the comments below these bikeporltand land use articles. “We must build” falls far short of anything I would consider democratic; it rules out community input, it lords it over everyone with opinions that differ.
      I happen to believe that we arrive at the best solutions to these difficult problems by debating not just the peripheral (should we allow four stories or three; should we offer a discount in the fees for an ADU) but the fundamental (why is growth treated as unassailable in all facets of our lives? If the majority prefer Oregon’s population would not double in size, or even increase, why do we refuse to have a larger conversation about how we might bring this about, consider policies that would encourage this… without falling into xenophobic or racist traps?

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    • davemess July 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      There is a demand for the cachet of this city FOR NOW. Doesn’t mean this city (with it’s mediocre at best job market) is still going to be attracting people at the same rate in even 5-10 years. We’re trendy now, but trends change.

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      • rachel b July 7, 2015 at 1:12 am

        I hope so!

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  • gutterbunnybikes July 2, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I’m glad I bought in 99, been tough at times to keep afloat – but I’ve managed.

    But I have to ask, wages have been stagnant or falling (when compared to inflation) for roughly 40 years. Even though productivity is through the roof.

    How much of this is really a housing pricing problem, and how much is stagnant wages problem? After all housing prices aren’t that out of line with inflation. Reality is that the difference between the two would be the adjustment based on demand.

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    • lop July 2, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      http://us.spindices.com/indices/real-estate/sp-case-shiller-or-portland-home-price-index

      Housing prices have advanced well in excess of inflation since 1999. That’s why you’re glad you bought in 1999.

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      • Chris
        Chris July 2, 2015 at 10:44 pm

        According to the data on that site, Portland is somewhere around the median of listed cities. By that measure, it’s not so bad here (at least compared to elsewhere).

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        • Chris
          Chris July 2, 2015 at 10:47 pm

          That said, if I were just starting off, I’d consider starting somewhere else. There are a lot of cool places to live; Portland is certainly one of them, but it’s hardly the only one.

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      • soren July 3, 2015 at 11:25 am

        home prices have risen very slowly when adjusted for inflation…

        http://www.multpl.com/case-shiller-home-price-index-inflation-adjusted/

        housing is historically barely better than cash under the mattress when it comes to gains/yields. the lingering “get rich” bubble mentality that views housing as an investment as opposed to a basic human right is one of the underlying motivations for nimbyism.

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        • Chris
          Chris July 3, 2015 at 12:16 pm

          How many people do you know who bought their house primarily as a “get rich” scheme? I personally know none. Sure, many hope it will be an investment that will increase in value, just like any other, but the primary motivation of pretty close to 100% of the people I know was to have a place of their own in a neighborhood they loved (or at least liked enough).

          I think you are mistaken about the motivations of people who work hard to improve their neighborhoods and keep them enjoyable places to live.

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          • 9watts July 3, 2015 at 12:45 pm

            “I think you are mistaken about the motivations of people who work hard to improve their neighborhoods and keep them enjoyable places to live.”

            My impression, and I don’t say this with any satisfaction, is that a fair share of the people in our neighborhoods would sell if they were offered enough money. Further, the obsession in some quarters with ‘property values,’ with how *your* behavior/junked car, noise, etc. might affect *my* property values, is a middle class scourge on our neighborhoods, our society. It comes from a place that sees our houses as fungible, as poker chips, as something for which we wish to know, track, and see the market value rise over time. In my view this is anathema to what you say above. To the extent that people invoke this they either value neighborhoods lower than they value money, or they haven’t come to terms with the ways in which these two are mutually exclusive. In a given location you can’t become a community if all the while you and your neighbors are keeping your eyes on zillow’s ratings or whatever, hoping the value will jump so you can cash out.

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            • Chris
              Chris July 3, 2015 at 6:29 pm

              All I can say is down in inner SE where I live, it is a very different vibe.

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          • soren July 3, 2015 at 5:07 pm

            “primarily” is a strawman.
            but to answer your question i know many people in the portland area who speculated in residential housing. the view that owning a home (or multiple homes) is a path to wealth is firmly entrenched in the merkin psyche and contributes to short-sighted land-use policy as well as hundreds of billions in unethical federal subsidies.

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            • Chris
              Chris July 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm

              Your use of the term “get rich bubble mentality” suggests money as a primary motivation, not one secondary to a desire to build a home and invest in a community over time.

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              • 9watts July 4, 2015 at 8:59 am

                I suspect that none of us, not you, Chris, or soren, or I, are really going to be able to second guess the more fine grained rankings of our inner SE neighbors. When I hear the phrase ‘my property values’ in conversation, my hackles go up. That may be different for you, Chris. But I think the point remains that with the possibility of cashing out in the back of a lot of people’s minds (would we have any bubble if everyone were interested in sticking around?) we have a situation that is less attuned to the values you impute to your neighbors than we might have preferred.

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              • Chris
                Chris July 4, 2015 at 9:10 pm

                I am being totally serious when I say in my 20+ years in Portland, I have never heard a fellow Portlander utter the phrase “my property values” in the context you describe. That is why I really don’t get the distrust of people’s motives. I just don’t know anyone for whom this is a concern, and I have been actively engaged with a lot of issues for a long time. The Portland you seem to be experiencing is very different than the one I know.

                Are people aware that their property is gaining value? Of course they are. But that’s not what drives them to live here and work to keep their communities strong.

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              • soren July 8, 2015 at 6:28 pm

                “The Portland you seem to be experiencing is very different than the one I know.”

                on my one block in buckman 2 out of 5 single family residences are owned by non-residents and there are 4 additional duplexes owned by real estate investors (also know as landlords).

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          • Pete July 3, 2015 at 6:10 pm

            From about 98 to about 06 I could introduce you to several who were buying two or more at a time, living in each for two years (renting out the other three), and then taking the $250K/$500K capital gains exemption on the cash-out. I still know a few playing the 1031 game, and of course we know what happened to stated income loans. Short-sighted, in my view, but the boomer demographic certainly benefited from that law in combination with falling interest rates and rising retail housing prices.

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      • gutterbunnybikes July 4, 2015 at 9:07 am

        Well, I’m ok with buying in 99, though would have been much better off now had I bought a 1/2 block property in what is now the Pearl back in 93 (they wanted 150k, and at the time it was slightly overpriced.).

        Looking at your link, the graph for Portland and the National level are almost identical. Which sorta puts the damper on idea that the Portland market is somehow inflated.

        I still think there are two major things in play that have nothing to do with housing prices.

        1) wages suck

        2) crippling, highly inflated (both in terms of initial tuition costs and loan rate), and inescapable college debt. I look at what many are going through for their educations and quite frankly I don’t see any value in many degree programs, let alone value worth the debt load. All that time and money wasted in college could have gotten many up a few rungs on the ladder from starting at the bottom and working your way up.

        Also reason one has an effect of reason two, 30 years ago you could work your way through college with a minimum wage job. That isn’t even remotely possible now.

        College debt and salaried positions becoming the norm looks more and more like a new form of corporate slavery than a career path.

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    • Tait July 3, 2015 at 7:30 am

      A theory that’s been gaining traction lately (as indicated by the President’s recent proposal) is that much of the difference comes in the form of uncompensated work hours — i.e. unpaid overtime. How many people do you know who are salaried? How many of them only work 40-hr weeks?

      The extra time — if compensated — means extra wages, whether in the form of overtime and higher income for current workers, or in the form of more jobs created and wages going to additional workers. And that might put upward pressure on wages again. And that might contribute to closing the gap between prices (for housing, among other things) and earnings.

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      • Chris
        Chris July 3, 2015 at 10:17 am

        Or, with more money in circulation, it might cause prices to rise yet further.

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        • soren July 3, 2015 at 5:12 pm

          wage inflation and increasing interest rates generally causes the nominal price of houses to fall sharply.

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          • Chris
            Chris July 3, 2015 at 5:36 pm

            As interest rates increase, the total cost of buying a house will remain the same, even if the nominal price rises slow. Overall, sellers will continue to ask what buyers are willing to pay, even if the portion going to the bank changes.

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  • Paul g July 7, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    9watts
    I suspect that none of us, not you, Chris, or soren, or I, are really going to be able to second guess the more fine grained rankings of our inner SE neighbors. When I hear the phrase ‘my property values’ in conversation, my hackles go up. That may be different for you, Chris. But I think the point remains that with the possibility of cashing out in the back of a lot of people’s minds (would we have any bubble if everyone were interested in sticking around?) we have a situation that is less attuned to the values you impute to your neighbors than we might have preferred.Recommended 0

    My home is the largest single investment purchase I have ever and probably ever will make. I’m amazed that you can dismiss so cavalierly a concern with not losing value on what to most of us is the largest single asset we own.

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    • 9watts July 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      I’m not disagreeing that our houses are worth a lot of money. My house is fifty or even a hundred times more valuable than anything else I own. But that is to me an entirely separate issue from being preoccupied with what my neighbors might do—how long they let their grass grow, or what vehicle may be abandoned in front of their house—that might affect the value of the house because, you know, I might want to sell it at a profit some day. That is what I’m objecting to as deleterious to a neighborhood, a community. Acting and speaking in a manner that suggests that making a profit when I sell my house is something I am (or feel) entitled to is in my opinion a dreadful thing. Either I am committed to my block, my neighborhood, to putting down roots and helping to build a great place to live, or I am playing poker with my house. Perhaps it is just a personal hangup but I don’t see how the two are compatible. How do you get people to attend your neighborhood meetings if they might skip town next year? Where does the collective memory of a place reside if everyone up and moves?

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