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Summary Meeting Notes: March 21, 2013 Neighborhood Centers PEG meeting

Meeting #10 Summary Notes

Neighborhood Centers Policy Expert Group

Meeting Date: March 21, 2013

Time: 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

PEG Attendees:  Lisa Bates, Andre Baugh, Kristin Cooper, Alan DeLaTorre, Ivy Dunlap, Gabe Genauer, Bob Granger, Denver Igarta, Carol Mayer-Reed, Rick Michaelson, Jennifer Moore, Mark Raggett, Nick Sauvie, Alison Stoll, Kim McCarty.

Key Points and Outcomes

  • PEG members generally supported the draft housing policies, but felt there should be a stonger focus on affordable housing      for low-income households, housing stability, and on aligning other Comprehensive Plan policies with affordable housing goals. 
  • PEG members would like future work on the the Growth Scenarios Analysis to help identify what efforts and investments could do the most to improve outcomes in deficient areas, acknowledging the need to use limited resources as strategically as possible.

Welcome, Introductions and Overview (8:00 a.m.)

Presenter: Steve Faust, Facilitator
Summary: Following introductions, Steve welcomed everyone and reviewed the agenda. The group is continuing last month’s discussion of Comprehensive Plan working draft policies, focusing on Housing Affordability. Following that discussion is an update on the growth scenarios last discussed at the October Meeting.

Several PEG members shared observations of site visits to East Portland: Gateway, 122nd & Burnside, and theParkrose Main Street.  Some comments:

  • The street system in Gateway is challenging and makes it difficult to walk from one area to another. Connections between buses and the I-205 light rail station near Mall 205 are not good. There is a lot of vacant land that could be consolidated for a large development with some investment.
  • The Gateway area needs to be activated through investment in ways that are responsive to its culturally-diverse population and develop entrepreneurial opportunities. The area is much more diverse than many parts of Portland– how do we prevent this from developing into segregration?
  • The heavy traffic and design of Sandy Boulevard is not conducive to making the Parkrose Main Street a place where people want to stop at businesses.

Review of Draft Comprehensive Plan Policies: Housing (8:15 a.m.)

Presenters: Uma Krishnan, BPS
Summary: As with policy discussions at the February meeting, BPS is looking for some indication of support for various policies and recommendations in addition to any comments PEG members may have. PEG members were asked to indicate their level of support for various policies and PEG comments throughout the discussion. 

Uma started the discussion with a reminder that the group last discussed housing policies in July. The policies respond to Statewide Planning Goal 10 and Metro’s Housing Rule which requires 50% of new residential units to be attached single family or multi-family housing. Policies 2.8 to 2.12 focus on Housing Affordability.  The City’s approach has evolved in several ways since the last Comprehensive Plan, some changes and emerging issues include:

  1. How we think about affordability is not just housing cost in isolation, but includes housing, utilities and transportation expenses together.
  2. Many affordable units expired and were transitioned into market rate housing. The City is exploring ways to create more permanent affordable units.
  3. Homelessness is not just single men, but families with children.  A key factor in homelessness are mental health issues.

The following is a summary of comments from the PEG regarding draft housing policies:

Priorities with Broad PEG Support

  • Policy 2.8 should be more narrowly focused on serving low income households.
  • The Housing Affordability policies should work in conjunction with policies in other chapters to ensure housing stability and affordability.  Policies should work together to support allowing people to remain in their homes over time (street improvements, LIDs, etc., should not result in costs that overburden and displace residents).
  • Other Comprehensive Plan policies and implementation approaches need to be evaluated in terms of their impact on housing affordability, including the compatible design policies, seismic safety and infrastructure policies.
  • Rename the Housing Discrimination section to “Housing Opportunity” or “Housing Equity.”
  • The Fair Housing policy (2.4) should require analysis of disparate impacts of land use planning, regulations, and infrastructure improvements on protected classes.  The Fair Housing policies should have a connection to the Plan for Fair Housing Choice and something about avoiding/reducing segregation. 

Other Comments

  • There should be a policy that encourages the use of all available tools to provide permanent and affordable housing.  Use development bonuses to incentivize affordable housing. 
  • Need to find creative ways to build up the supply of long-term affordable housing.  One possibility could be to purchase existing market rate housing and then limit rent increases to 1% per year, instead of just focusing on building new units.
  • Definitions of “affordable housing” and “low-income” housing should be included in the commentary as well as in the glossary.
  • Need to consider impacts of city investments and other actions on housing affordability.
  • Policy language should call on the City to anticipate disparate impacts. The current updates to parking requirements do not seem to be considering the potential for disparate impacts. 
  • Remove reference to floating homes in policy 2.2, since new floating homes are no longer allowed.
  • For the accessible housing commentary, use ¼ mile to define what “close proximity” to services means to account for people who are elderly or disabled.
  • Need to define what “accessible housing” is, and account for differing levels of accessibility.
  • Define what an “adequate” housing unit is.
  • Reconsider the organization of policies 2.8 and 2.10.
  • Define “workforce housing” – the Housing Bureau can provide a definition.
  • 2.13 should include housing that facilitates independence, promotes living within community and reduces isolation as elements of Healthful housing.
  • Policy 2.2a should mention a goal of encouraging a variety of housing types is to prevent a monoculture of development.

Other Comprehensive Plan Policies

  • In the Chapter 5 Centers policies, need to identify benefits for neighborhoods in accepting higher densities. Consider incentives for development to include desired commercial and community services and other amenities, such as height and density bonuses. 

Bill Cunningham reminded PEG members that they can submit comments regarding all of the draft Comprehensive Plan policies online at: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/60986.

Growth Scenarios Update (9:10 a.m.)

Presenter: Tom Armstrong, BPS
Summary: Tom explained that Metro’s population projections forPortlandwere distributed geographically according to the various growth scenario patterns and the development capacity of existing zoning.  The scenarios were evaluated according to how well they achieve City objectives.  Preliminary findings show that the difference in outcomes among the various scenarios is marginal.  The analysis indicates that growth management alone will not achieve City objectives.  A large percentage of 2035 households are already here today, so where the new housing is located has only a limited effect on outcomes, such as goals for complete neighborhoods.  The answer in this case is to expand the completeness of neighborhoods in east and southwest Portland that lack access to local services and sidewalks, together with locating more housing in areas that have good access to services and other opportunities.

During this phase of the growth scenarios process, BPS is evaluating the alternative growth scenarios against performance measures, given existing conditions.  The next phase will focus on identifying what investments, such as improved transit corridors and centers, would do the most to improve the outcomes.  The analysis considers how infrastructure investments impact the results and how addressing one objective impacts the others.  The Centers PEG may want to consider a cross-PEG discussion with the Infrastructure Equity PEG on prioritization of infrastructure investements. 

Housing Choice

The growth scenarios analysis indicates that Portland has adequate zoning capacity to meet future anticipated housing growth, but there are challenges to providing affordable housing for the lowest income households.

The analysis of housing mix shows that the majority of future housing construction will be multifamily development, although the majority of residentially-zoned land will continue to consist of single family housing outside of corridors and centers. The analysis identifies three basic housing types in the City: single family residences, corridor apartments and mid-to-high rise apartments. There are 11 specific housing unit types that fall within the three basic types. The analysis looked at how the mix of these housing types vary in the different scenarios.  PEG discussion included:

  • The City should consider approaches related to infill development that makes it easier for existing homeowners to benefit directly from growth.  Land development is too complex and expensive for property owners of modest means to pursue themselves.  The group agreed that this may be an opportunity for assistance from a nonprofit developer.
  • The housing allocations should consider changes in racial and ethnic distribution, especially in light of differences in household size between different populations. The larger households inEast Portlandand continued growth of minority populations there will result in even worse outcomes in relation to our objectives if population (rather than households) were to be used as the measure.  Concern was also raised about the inappropriateness of the household type labels used in the analysis.
  • Reducing system development charges for SROs could be an incentive to develop more of this type of affordable housing. Seattlehas done a lot of work in this area.

Access to Family Wage Jobs

In response to comments from the Centers PEG and others, the City conducted an analysis of access to family wage jobs, adopting a methodology used in a study by the Brookings Institute (this analysis found that 95% of commute trips to family wages jobs are within a 60 minute transit trip). The BPS study considered TriMet’s service enhancement plan forEastCounty(East Portland andGresham) and Census commute data.  Many trips fromEastCountyare to the Columbia Corridor and Gateway. Data indicates that 60% ofPortlandresidents work inPortlandand that 40% of those who work inPortlandlive inPortland. The next step in the analysis will be to look at access to family wage jobs for vulnerable households.  PEG discussion included:

  • Consider reducing the commute time used in the analysis to 30 or 45 minutes. A 60-minute commute each way is too long for most people. 
  • With the large numbers of westside jobs (Downtown and inWashingtonCounty), should we focus more housing inWest Portlandto provide more people with access to these jobs?
  • We have limited resources and need policies, growth and investment strategies that are responsive to this.  Can we get jobs and housing closer together? What are the centers or corridors where jobs could be located to improve access to jobs? 
  • Is East Portland the best place to intervene to improve the measures?
  • This analysis needs to help us craft a long-term investment strategy to make the most effective use of our limited resources.

Meeting Handouts and Presentations

Public Comment (9:50 a.m.)

This process should consider the evolution of corridors and what makes a corridor complete.  Daily needs go beyond restaurants to items like clothing.

Next Steps (9:55 a.m.)

The next meeting of the PEG is scheduled for April 18th and will include review of public feedback on the draft Comprehensive Plan policies.

Adjourn (10:00 a.m.)

For more information, please contact Bill Cunningham, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-4203 or Bill.Cunningham@portlandoregon.gov or Steve Faust, Facilitator at 503-278-3456 or steve.faust@coganowens.com.