Mayor Charlie Hales' plans to shake up redevelopment in this city have been put off once again.
In a set of tweaks introduced last year, the mayor proposed altering the city's Urban Renewal Areas—special pockets of the city taken off the normal tax rolls so that money can be spent on projects within their bounds. URAs have been successful in eliminating blight in areas like the Pearl District. They're also sometimes criticized—by Hales and others—as policy-makers' ATMs.
Hales' plans—changes to six of the city's 13 URAs—have drawn lengthy testimony and testy interactions on city council, but they've yet to come to an actual vote. That was supposed to happen this morning, after commissioners hashed out a set of amendments two weeks ago.
There wasn't a vote, though, and the reason should be welcome news to advocates of affordable housing.
Council held off because of a resolution Commissioner Nick Fish plans to introduce tomorrow, involving a potentially controversial district that encompasses the South Waterfront. The mayor's proposal would expand that "North Macadam URA," and the Portland Development Commission—after some wobbling—has pledged to build 200 units of affordable housing (priced at 60 percent or less of median family income, by the PDC's lights) at one of its properties.
But advocates have argued a more-substantial commitment is necessary. Fish's resolution offers one up. Sources say it would direct the Portland Housing Bureau and the PDC to buy at least one acre of land for another affordable housing development within the next eight years.
That's a small part of nearly 800 price-controlled units that are supposed to pop up in and around the South Waterfront—plans that have taken a backseat to luxury development. Here's a table of aspirations the city released in 1999, not remotely close to reality today.
Anyway, Fish's resolution, along with the rest of the changes, will come before City Council next week. It looks like we might finally see a vote on the mayor's proposals.