Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Portland, it's all about housing

I sure do love the title of Kim-Mai Cutler's lecture.  I wish I was there.

If Portland were to be more "affordable" than it is now, could we handle even more people escaping San Francisco and Seattle?  We don't have to worry about climate refugees - we are in a drought too - we have to worry about rent refugees.  Let's get the bigger cities on the coast to lighten up their restrictions on growth too, to keep Californians at home.

Hundreds of new apartments rise in the Lloyd District.

Is Portland the next San Francisco? 4 takeaways from Metro's discussion

The Oregonian/Oregonlive September 21, 2015 By Luke Hammill

One of the many signs people in Portland are concerned about the cost of area housing: there wasn't an empty seat in the audience for a Metro panel discussion on the subject, and it was Friday at 8 a.m.

The regional planning agency hosted Kim-Mai Cutler, a reporter formerly of Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal who now writes for TechCrunch. At nearly 13,000 words, Cutler's "How Burrowing Owls Lead to Vomiting Anarchists (or S.F.'s Housing Crisis Explained)" provides a comprehensive look at what's gone wrong in San Francisco, where the median rent price, according to Zillow, is $4,600.

It's not quite that bad yet in Portland, where the median rent is $1,700. But costs are rising fast, and organizations like the Community Alliance of Tenants have declared a "renter state of emergency." Metro invited Cutler with the hope of learning from San Francisco's troubles and preventing the situation in Oregon from growing worse.

Four Take-Away Ideas:

People are moving back into cities, but supply can't catch up.
Suburban homes used to sell at a 9 percent premium above homes in Portland, Cortright said. Less than a decade later, the opposite is true: Portland homes now sell at a 7 percent premium.  And yet, there is still a net positive migration to the suburbs.  To each his or her own.
The panel's consensus: rent control and inclusionary zoning don't work
"It drives up the price of housing everywhere else" by further constraining the market-rate supply, he [Cortright] said.
Cutler, with support from other panelists, proposed a land-value tax. It would be assessed on the underlying value of a property regardless of how well it is used or improved.  Cities could then dedicate those revenues toward building affordable housing. BAD IDEA!  Subsidize people, not housing!  Government cannot house people better than the private market.
The 'elephant in the room,' according to one panelist? Parking requirements
"Stop taxing houses to subsidize cars," he said. 
Cortright was also in favor of abolishing free parking in certain neighborhoods in an effort to get people out of their cars and onto public transit and bicycles.  Even people who ride bikes own cars.  LO is essentially a hilly area with only a couple of limited-schedule and extremely limited-route buses.  People here cannot depend on either bikes or buses.  And some developers know that prospective tenants won't rent from them if parking isn't available.  
What about NIMBYs?
But are efforts to preserve neighborhood "character" causing Portland's dwindling stock of affordable homes?
But he cautioned against characterizing neighborhood activists with broad strokes.
"There are a lot of folks in the neighborhoods who are willing to take on additional homes," Spevak said.  OK, so people who don't want to live in stuffed-to-the-gills neighborhoods are selfish?  Nuts!  Some people prefer urban living, some prefer the suburbs.  Viva la difference!  I don't feel guilty saying this - No micro-apartments or clustered tiny housing in my back yard!  

From The Oregonian/Oregonlive, June 19, 2015, By Brad Schmidt
Portland's housing - 94,000 new apartments 

Portland new housing 2010-2035

Single family
Accessory dwelling units
Portland is projected to add about 260,000 residents between 2010 and 2035, a population increase of nearly 45 percent from the 583,776 tallied in the 2010 Census.

MY VIEW: Homeownership not in Metro plan

Portland Tribune, August 18, 2015, By Nate Bond, President of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland

The Metro Council, our regional planning government, soon will consider a series of recommendations that would maintain the existing urban growth boundary and serve to worsen these problems for our region. Moreover, the recommendations fly counter to what we value as individuals and diminish the hopes of those who want to someday own a home for their families.

More importantly, the recommendations would push many families further from ever owning a home. As a result, much of our work force may be forced to move to the edge of our region, into towns outside of our Metro area to find the housing they want and, ultimately, can afford.

In fact, a Residential Preference Study (conducted by Metro, PSU, City of Portland, Washington and Clackamas Counties, HBA and others) found that 80 percent of respondents would prefer to live in detached, single-family homes — in short, the region’s residents will go to where the homes are. Unfortunately, the current recommendations before Metro do not reflect this reality.

Unfortunately, the recommendations on expansion of the urban growth boundary before Metro Council will force many current and future residents to forget the dream of homeownership, thereby taking us one step closer to the untenable situation faced by our neighbors to the north and south.

Bring reality back into growth decisions

Portland Tribune, August 6, 2015 By Editorial Board

The perennial question of whether the Portland area should grow outward or inward is back before the Metro Council, which is required to decide whether the urban growth boundary is sufficiently large to handle a rapidly expanding population for the next 20 years.

There’s a chicken-and-egg quality to the current Metro discussion: Are councilors using legitimate data to determine how people want to live in the Portland area of the future? Or are they first deciding what they think the future Portland should look like and then manipulating the data to justify that outcome?

Hughes and the council should listen carefully, however, because well-documented research is challenging their hypothesis that people moving to Portland — along with many existing residents — will prefer multifamily housing over the traditional home and yard. This issue needs much more thorough analysis before a region’s growth plan can be based on a shaky assumption.

We also are concerned about the consequences — intended or otherwise — of a decision to pack more people and buildings within the existing boundary.

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