Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar
Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon
Mr . Saba [planning bureau] said during the 10 years MAX has been in existence, the City has seen no mixed-use developments adjacent to the light rail lines . Most of those that occurred were in the Central City, Lloyd Center and Gresham . ***Actual Video***
Wayne Rembold, Portland contractor, said tax abatements are essential to getting these projects built as otherwise they do not pencil out. ***Actual Video***
Andy Cotugno, Metro Planning Director, endorsed the proposal on behalf of Metro . He said they want to see higher density and a more compact region and this is one way to foster development to meet these goals . ***Actual Video***
Dan Steffey, 808 SW 3rd, Suite 580, 97204, said he cannot go ahead with his project, 119 units of housing for the elderly, without the abatement ***Actual Video***
He [Commissioner Hales] said it is a myth to think the market will take care of development along transit corridors, noting the many vacant sites along the current MAX system ***Actual Video***
He [Commissioner Hales] said this is not so much about tax abatement as it is about location and type, claiming that virtually all of the apartment buildings on the South Park Blocks would not exist today without a similar tax abatement program . ***Actual Video***
Here is the complete OCTOBER 23, 1996 City Council Hearing (We bolded some interesting items)
(PDF of whole council session)
1713 TIME CERTAIN: 2:00 PM - Transmit report and recommendation on the Transit Oriented Tax Exemption Program from the Transit Oriented Development Work Group (Report introduced by Commissioner Hales)
Discussion: Mike Saba, Planning Bureau, said this is a modest incentive program to encourage the kind of development the City would like to see along the transit routes . He said the Work Group took a very conservative approach and applied the exemption only to very specific areas around light rail stations and along transit streets. Mr. Saba noted that, contrary to recent assertions by Southwest residents who are concerned about proposed rezoning, this exemption does not apply to the Southwest Plan area . Council would have to specifically amend today's ordinance to include any other areas .
Mayor Katz asked if Design Review will apply to exempted properties .
Mr. Saba said most of the affected properties are already in Design Zones but the Portland Development Commission (PDC) has the right to require additional design work for any properties that may not be in such zones .
Randy Webster, Office of Finance and Administration, said this does represent a shift of taxes to other property tax payers and does result in a reduction of the levy capacity for the Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund . He said, with Measure 47, the City would see a direct property tax loss . However, huge amounts of money are not involved here . He noted that the five proposed projects are projected to result in $32 million in improvements and will increase property taxes from $ .50 to $1.00 for those paying between $700 and $800 in property taxes .
Commissioner Hales said the comparison assumes the projects would be built without the abatement and would be paying taxes .
Wendy Cherubini, PDC, said they had reservations about the affordable housing aspect and, after holding two additional meetings, have created a new approach regarding the public benefit segment .
Commissioner Lindberg asked how the amount of property taxes to be foregone was determined . He also asked how important the abatement is in getting these projects done.
Mr . Saba said during the 10 years MAX has been in existence, the City has seen no mixed-use developments adjacent to the light rail lines . Most of those that occurred were in the Central City, Lloyd Center and Gresham .
Wayne Rembold, Portland contractor, said tax abatements are essential to getting these projects built as otherwise they do not pencil out . The exemptions will also benefit tenants by providing affordable rentals . Michael Roche, Multnomah Neighborhood Association Land-Use Chair, said the Association opposes any new tax abatements and believes citizens should not have to shoulder an increased tax burden. He questioned why a tax break should be given to developers and said 1000 Friends of Oregon is on record in opposition to tax abatements . He said it is not good policy to give money away .
Will White, Housing Development Center, supported the proposal . He said this provides a stronger inducement to developers to build affordable housing yet in no way gives away the store .
Mayor Katz noted that after 10 years the extra value goes on the tax rolls .
Commissioner Kafoury said she would like to see these projects get started . If it turns out that there are too many, or that the City is being overly generous, the program can be halted .
Gordon Trapp, Southwest Portland resident, said the City's proposal for strip zoning R7 and R10 in Southwest Portland discriminates against seniors by forcing them to live with high-density development next door .
Mayor Katz said this does not impact Southwest at this point .
Jeff Merkley, Executive Director, Human Solutions, said substantial City subsidies are needed to assure housing availability for families at 60 percent of median income . He said the City may also need to rethink lifting the abatement after 10 years as this could result in a loss of mixed-income levels .
Liz Callison, said this is a subsidy to developers and landlords and the only reason it is not opposed by the general public is because they are not aware of what is happening .
Mayor Katz said urban renewal subsidies provided incentives to get people to live downtown in the 1970s and those properties are now on the tax rolls .
Ms. Callison said the public needs to know how much these abatements cost .
Mayor Katz said she does not like tax exemptions but this benefits the entire community.
Commissioner Lindberg said the supposition is that these projects would be built without a subsidy.
Ms. Callison said during the current building boom there is no need for a subsidy. She said if what is built is schlock then at the end of 10 years it will be foreclosed and the taxpayers will end up holding the bag .
Mayor Katz said that is why design has been raised as an issue.
Andy Cotugno, Metro Planning Director, endorsed the proposal on behalf of Metro . He said they want to see higher density and a more compact region and this is one way to foster development to meet these goals .
Ralph Austin, Innovative Housing, Inc ., said they support this because it deepens the market by increasing the number of eligible buyers . However, this is not the proper vehicle if the goal is to increase mixed-income ownership . That should be accomplished through mandatory inclusionary housing .
Zack Semke, Coalition for a Livable Future, said they support this based on its wiser use of limited land, reduced dependence on the automobile and creation of more affordable housing . They believe, however, that income levels are set too high and that the affordable housing requirements should be extended beyond 10 years . He suggested that the City consider region-wide mandatory inclusionaryy zoning to deal with affordability problems. In response to earlier testimony, he said 1000 Friends does not oppose this .
Commissioner Hales asked about parking and the one space per unit requirement in the CX zone, which covers most of the sites .
Mr. Saba said they avoided adding parking ratios as they did not want to apply a dual level of regulations .
Commissioner Hales said a proposal to eliminate minimum parking requirements is planned soon .
Mayor Katz asked if options to buy on the units being built were considered .
Mr. Saba said the Working Group had not discussed that in detail . He said there is a troublesome provision in the State statute that adds a penalty for the conversion of rentals to condominiums, even after ten years.
Mayor Katz said that issue should be flagged for attention at the next legislative session.
Dan Steffey, said he cannot go ahead with his project, 119 units of housing for the elderly, without the abatement . This is an opportunity to direct growth and use existing infrastructure and there are protections within the program to ensure that schlock will not be built .
Commissioner Lindberg asked if the affordability mix can be required beyond 10 years.
Mr. Steffey said it depends on the mix of revenue sources, which will dictate the length of the affordability provisions .
Commissioner Lindberg asked if the Central City units lost their affordability requirements after 10 years .
Mr. Saba said a different approach was taken there, on a project by project basis .
Bonnie Anderson, supported the abatement program because it will encourage growth where it is needed .
Chris Pierce, no address stated, said while they cannot be certain this ordinance will increase housing in these transit corridors or that denser housing will result .in higher use of alternative transportation modes, they do know what will happen if they do not attempt new strategies to prevent sprawl and reduce congestion .
Ed McNamara, Realty Trust Associates, Inc ., suggested changes regarding the design criteria, affordability requirements and the application process . He said stronger site and building requirements should be added to develop to maximum feasible density. On-site parking should be limited and design elements, such as small setbacks to the street, porches and balconies, should be part of the approval process . He said this abatement should not be limited to buildings with eight or more units and should include renovations and possibly accessory rental units to single-family houses . He suggested that a number of additional public benefits be dropped, including public meeting spaces and public plazas . The gateway in the Lents area should also be dropped as it detracts from the focus on light rail . Stronger affordability requirements should be imposed .
Louise Weidlich, Director, Neighborhoods Protective Association, opposed this ordinance because of the negative impact of such development on livability in Southwest .
Mayor Katz asked for more details about the design element requirements, as identified by Mr. McNamara .
Mr. Saba said the Zoning Code and the Transportation Planning Rule deal with these issues . There is also Design Review, which is a separate process, and his goal was not to replicate what already exists elsewhere . Every time the City tries to do that, it develops conflicting rules and it is hard to tell which set governs.
Mayor Katz said there are design guidelines and those standards ought to,be adopted here,, especially when additional benefits are provided to developers . She said she chokes when she sees some developments with two garages taking the whole front of the house .
Commissioner Hales asked if Design Review has been placed on the station areas.
Mr. Saba said everything in the Gateway Plan District is covered by Design Review as are some portions of Lents and some station areas . Some portions of Hollywood, 60th and 82nd are not all covered .
Commissioner Hales said there is a gap but not a huge one .
Mayor Katz said she wants to have design standards in place there . too .
Mr. Saba said this program is not a land-use decision . He said they did not want to impose land-use reviews here or duplicate existing requirements . He said limiting this program to projects of eight or more units was an arbitrary decision based on fiscal and administrative feasibility concerns . Applying this abatement to every duplex might not be realistic . The State statute also requires justification for demolition of any existing, rehabitable housing .
Commissioner Kafoury asked if was accurate that the Work Group's main goal was to encourage density development along this corridor and affordability was a secondary issue as the Group believed there were other ways to get longer term affordability .
Mr. Saba said the monetary benefit of the abatement itself will not be sufficient to fund an affordable housing project in and of itself. Projects will need a variety of funding to make them permanently affordable .
Commissioner Kafoury noted that a number of people in the affordable housing community are worried about this .
Mr. Saba said affordability is an issue they wrestled with constantly . He said they adopted the existing City policy which states that the depth of affordability should be equivalent to the length of the benefit .
Commissioner Hales said he has three quibbles with this . He said instead of density, this is really about offering people housing choices, not just singlefamily houses on large lots or garden apartments . And garden apartments should be labelled for what they are, "barracks" apartments . Regarding affordability, a better way needs to be found to help people understand what such terms as 30 percent of median housing unit really mean and who would really live there -- not drug dealers, as many people fear . He said it is a myth to think the market will take care of development along transit corridors, noting the many vacant sites along the current MAX system . He said Southwest residents should visit some of the new developments going up along the edges of the Urban Growth Boundary and realize that many of those residents will be driving through Southwest Portland to get to their destinations . But more housing along light rail lines might result in fewer cars . He said this is not so much about tax abatement as it is about location and type, noting all the apartment buildings on the South Park Blocks which would not exist today without a similar tax abatement program .
Commissioner Lindberg said he supports this because it meets Metro 2040 goals to direct development in urban areas, thus eliminating sprawl and saving energy. It will also enable the City to get the type of housing it wants and tax abatement already has a good track record downtown. Mayor Katz said the City wants people to live along transit lines so neighborhoods are not negatively affected by increased numbers of cars and speeders. She said she will support this although she hates tax abatements and wants the Design Commission to seriously consider more creative ways to provide options to increase home ownership. Commissioner Kafoury said more talk is needed about the affordability issues . Disposition : Accepted . (Y-4)
Claim: Light Rail attracts development NEW: Video for some quotes below!
No, incentives bring the development.
Portland's city council approved tax incentives to build high density along the light tail line because rail didn't do the job.
Here are some quotes from the Oregonian, October 24, 1996:
"The Portland City Council on Thursday approved a tax incentive plan that will give tax breaks to transit-oriented housing projects near MAX light-rail stations and two other Portland eastside locations."
"Developers have been hesitant to build the type of housing Metro says the region needs to attract more transit riders."
"Housing developers, both for-profit and nonprofit, testified that the tax-incentive program would stimulate the market for creative housing and mixed-use projects. Projects with 15 or more units would be required to contain at least some housing for people with low incomes."
"City Commissioner Charlie Hales explained his vote supporting the tax break by referring to a map showing large blocks of undeveloped land near light-rail stations.
``We have an investment that hasn't been well capitalized on,'' he said."
"The tax breaks, which apply to buildings but not land, will generally have the effect of shifting the tax burden to other taxpayers."
Here are some quotes from the OCTOBER 23, 1996 City Council Hearing Minutes (complete minutes below)