Preserving Affordable Houses Like This

Not Replacement Like This

Portland Together
Growing and Conserving Great Portland Places
Affordable House, Demolished, 2014
Mega-sized Replacement House, 2015

Key Points to Remember:

HB 2007 Threatens Affordable Housing in an Effort to Promote It -- Here's Why...

Build-Baby-Build and Voodoo Housing Economics

Some City officials and the Home Builders Association tell us that if we just build more housing units (typically luxury, high-priced units as are being built today) that the benefits will "trickle down" to folks of modest means through more affordable homes and rentals.  That's nothing more than Voodoo Housing Economics!

The reality is that when zoning allows more housing units on a site without some kind of regulation or encouragement for affordable units, the builders will bid up the price of the land to the point where the ultimate rents or home prices are "what the market will bear".  That's why we've seen prices in Portland go up close to 90% in the last 7 years despite the construction of over 25,000 new housing units!  And the result has been the destruction of over 3000 relatively affordable single family homes and the displacement of their occupants (often renters).

  • Houses aren't disposable
  • Re-Use. don't rip and replace
  • The most affordable homes are the ones that already exist

  • Good Design makes for livable cities
  • Everybody deserves good design, NOT just the rich

  • Density without Demolition
  • Stop Demolishing our Neighborhoods

  • Local concerns = Local control

  • Fast track affordable housing permits (for units costing 33% of 60% MFI) – move them to the front of the line, develop clear and objective design guidelines.
  • Studying the development timeline and identifying where efficiencies could be found.
  • Explicitly allow ADUs and internal subdivision of houses in historic districts.

  • HB2007 would essentially do away with single family zoning statewide and compel every city and county to permit construction of duplexes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in all single family house residential zones.  These duplexes and ADUs are not required to be affordable.
    • Replacing existing single family houses with new construction duplexes does not create affordable housing; it destroys affordable housing. 
    • “Building new” always costs more than “re-using existing”.  The most affordable houses are the small ones already in our neighborhoods. 
    • In Portland, thousands of small houses in the $250,000 to $350,000 range have been purchased by developers, demolished, and replaced by new luxury houses at $1 million or new luxury duplexes at $700,000 per unit. 
    • Ordinary buyers cannot compete with developers’ cash offers.  Renters are displaced and lower-income families are forced out

  • HB2007 would prohibit cities and counties from applying discretionary design review to any and all housing.   This is not limited to affordable housing.
    • Exempting housing development from design review will not create affordable housing.  Design review is a small fraction of the  total development cost.
    • Design review is an important city tool to guide development of livable, vibrant, walkable, healthy cities, and promotes YIMBYism (yes-in-my-back-yard) because the affordable housing is seen as a complement to the neighborhood instead of a jarring imposition.  Design review may add 60 days to the development timeline, but the community will live with that building for a hundred years!
    • Housing should not be exempted from design review.
    • Affordable housing projects should receive priority design review that considers the project’s need for lower-cost construction.

  • HB2007 would prohibit protections such as zoning overlays and design review for designated historic neighborhoods.  
    • Neighborhoods listed in the National Register of Historic Places are among the most historically important places in the United States, and are cultural economic assets that deserve to be protected.  Current protections allow ADUs, internal conversions, and construction of multi-family housing including affordable housing.  The Skidmore Old Town Historic District has added several affordable housing developments within the last several years and a several new mixed use infill developments.
    • Protected historic districts represent a tiny percent of housing.  In Portland, historic districts represent less than 3% of the total land area, which already provide for affordable housing options.
    • Historic protection is mandated in Goal 5. New Goal 5 Rules, effective in April, 2017, prescribe a very modest baseline of protection that simply requires demolition review – a public process to consider the public impact of demolishing a historic building.  Additional local protections must be developed with the input of the residents it effects.  It’s a very democratic process.
    • Residential historic neighborhoods contain many smaller, affordable houses.  In Portland, 58% of over 6000 homes in Historic Districts are under 2000 square feet.
    • Replacement mega houses are invariably much larger and much more expensive than the original historic house; this makes the neighborhood less affordable.
    • Historic districts also contain larger houses which can be converted to duplexes.  Portland’s historic district rules also permit construction of accessory dwelling units.  Internal conversions and ADUs permit affordable housing and increased density without demolition of historic houses.

  • HB2007 would force new, sweeping, and extremely broad land use rules on every city, county and neighborhood in Oregon, without considering whether those rules are appropriate for local conditions, without sufficient input from local governments and communities, using an “emergency” declaration.
    • Housing, zoning, urban design, and historic protection are uniquely local issues.  The imposition of rules appropriate for Portland may not be right for other cities and counties in Oregon.  These decisions should be made by local governments through their local elected officials and local voters. 
    • The State government should not impose “one-size-fits-all” land use rules on every neighborhood in Oregon.
    • Such huge changes should never be made through a bill rushed through in three months, with little public awareness, and with amendments unrelated to the intent of creating more affordable housing.