If there's one thing city council excels at, it's accepting reports. Got an opinion you want the mayor and commissioners to hear? Then form a committee, write a report, and finagle your way onto the agenda.
Of course, it helps if the city has actually asked you to put the report together. After effectively taking last week off due to Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Randy Leonard's absence, council rolls back into action this Wednesday, August 16, kicking things off with some hot report action.
First, city council will hear from the Portland Development Commission (PDC), which is presenting the results of its investigation into how much of the PDC's urban renewal budget is spent on affordable housing. (Surprised that the agency had to establish a committee and hold an investigation to find out how it spends its own money? Join the club.) The report is the result of Commissioner Erik Sten poking around, and comes on the heels of his proposal to require that at least 30 percent of the PDC's spending be on affordable housing.
According to the buzz in city hall, the 30 percent requirement came down because the council simply couldn't trust PDC to adhere to their housing priorities. And from the looks of the report, the council was right. Of the 10 or so urban renewal areas currently handled by PDC, only two spent more than 30 percent on affordable housing—and that's only if they subtract administrative and staffing costs. The housing percentages on the other projects ranged from 10 to 25 percent. Expect city council to be pissed.
The second round of reporting will come from the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Measure 37 (M37), which has been compiling recommendations on how the city should address M37 claims. (M37 takes away local governments' ability to enforce land-use regulations by forcing them to choose between waiving zoning rules or paying off landowners.)
In essence, the committee is recommending that the city continue doing what it's doing—denying claims based on legitimate environmental and public safety concerns. In fact, the city has only waived regulations on two of the dozen or so claims that have come before it, and compromised the rest.
Which is great news, if you're a fan of responsible urban planning. An August 10 posting on sightline.org laid a map of M37 claims over a map of the otherwise dense metro area. If the claims were approved, Portland would start to resemble Vancouver, WA—or any other suburban hell in America.
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