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Oregon Smart Growth (OSG, formerly Oregon LOCUS) continued to build our identity as an effective coalition supporting policies that encourage walkable, livable residential and commercial development that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. 

Focusing on our policy pillars—livable communities, appropriate regulation and leveraged public investments—OSG strategically advocated on the state and local policy development.

Legislative Session

The 2018 session was just four-weeks long, but OSG helped pass important policy including:

  • Increasing the Document Recording Fee (HB 4007,) to support significantly more affordable housing across the state. Working in partnership with the Oregon Housing Alliance and Oregon Realtors, OSG helped secure bipartisan passage of a recording fee increase from $20 to $60, which will raise $30.5 million in the 2017-2019 biennium and $61 million in the 2019-2021 biennium. 76% of this fee directly funds low-income housing supply across Oregon.

  • Securing referral to voters of HJR 201, a much-needed constitutional amendment enabling local jurisdictions to issue voter-approved bonds to leverage private and non-profit funding to finance affordable housing projects by removing the prohibition on non-public equity in the projects. OSG advocated strongly for this bill and helped shaped language through public opinion research assistance.

  • Correcting an error in SB 1051 (2017 session), HB 4031affirms that Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADUs”) must be within the Urban Growth Boundary (“UGB”) and strengthened our relationship with key allies in smart growth development policy.

Local Priorities 

OSG works to ensure that local development policy not only supports a variety of dense, walkable housing and commercial options, but also ensures those developments remain financially feasible.

OSG won expanded offsets for IH projects that are built at 5:1 FAR or more in the Central City and Gateway areas to make projects more feasible and support greater density. This change allows projects built orbase-zoned 5:1 FAR in these areas to access a 10-year MULTE exemption for all residential units, not just the affordable ones. The prior rules limited that full exemption to those projects with baseFAR at 5:1, even though the 3:1 bonus for IH allows for larger, more expensive development in areas with less base FAR. 

OSG secured significant changes to the rules on for-sale units in the Inclusionary Housing (IH) program, including simplifying eligibility requirements for unit sale, securing Housing Bureau performance deadlines, adding down payment and co-signer flexibility, and reducing the length of time a seller is stuck at a very low-price point if eligible buyers are not interested. As originally proposed, the rules were unworkable and would have rendered for-sale multi-family development financially infeasible just as the market has the potential to ramp up.

Portland City Council revised the IH in-lieu fee so that it only applied to residential and residential-related portions of mixed use development—a success that OSG has advocated for since City Council first approved the program in 2016. 

OSG worked with the Mayor’s and County Chair’s Offices to create incentives for vested those projects to voluntarily opt-in to providing affordable units, a revived MULTE program with ten years abatement and ten years affordability requirement. The tax exemption will apply to allresidential units city-wide, with an inclusion rate of 20% of units or bedrooms (if affordable units have 2+ bedrooms) at 60% percent MFI for any vested project. The annual tax exemption is limited to $500,000 per project in order to avoid one or two projects using the $3 million exemption cap. 

OSG helped secure increased FAR bonus for commercial development required to pay the in-lieu fee and abroader area for transferring FAR to a development to achieve maximum allowed height within CC 2035 zoning changes.

OSG successfully advocated to extend the lower phase-in rates (8% of units at 60% MFI or 15% of units at 80% MFI) until 2021for IH projects outside the Central City and Gateway Districts.

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