Is Portland's Inclusionary Housing Rule Really Hurting Developers?

Comments

1

"Brenneke says developers haven’t been applying for very many permits since IH came into effect, but the city does not have data available to corroborate that claim."

How the fuck does the city not have data on how many permit applications have been submitted since a particular date?

2

"The numbers back her up. Portland’s vacancy rate for apartments built in 2017 is 12 percent, compared to an overall vacancy rate of 5.7 percent."

No, the numbers do not back her up. Every new development takes about 2 years to fully fill up with tenants, that's very standard for brand new apartment buildings. It's a different story for condos, because the way condos are financed means a certain number of units are required to be pre-sold before the actual construction is financed.

This same claim was made by people about "luxury" apartments in downtown Los Angeles, where there was a big spike in the vacancy rate after a ton of new units came online simultaneously. People claimed it was evidence of "overdevelopment." A year later? The vacancy rate had dropped back down to be close to the overall vacancy rate of the entire city.

Portland truly suffers from any journalism that actually demonstrates even passing knowledge of housing and development issues.

3

The city does have data - they have a website that tracks the IZ pipeline. There are currently only 24 projects in the inclusionary housing pipeline in the city (buildings over 20 units that have been submitted since February 2017). https://www.portlandoregon.gov/phb/76089

4

I think Brenneke's right about the number of total homes we need to build per year on average. Pretty sure we're going to exceed that number in 2017-2018, so it's not the worst thing if we're under for a year or two after, but if things are not heading back to that rate soon then we're all in big trouble.

As for what a working IH policy looks like, I agree with Zapata that it's about the number of below-market homes being produced. 280 over 18 months is better than 0, but we should be getting 400 to 800 per year. If we're not on track to get to that rate, then the policy is out of balance.

5

As the earlier comment noted, Portland Housing has a breakdown of all projects since inception (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/phb/76089):
24 projects (22 apts/2 condo)
~210 IH units: 74 studio, 101 1BR, 29 TBD, <10 2/3/4BR apts/condos

Plus, it looks like those include some with public financing as well. The private projects are adding minimal numbers, mostly at the 80% rate.

From that Feb 2018 report (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/672661)
"To maintain housing production and housing supply targets identified in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, the City of Portland would need to start seeing significant increases in land use review and building permit applications over the next six to twelve months to replace development pipeline units that will be delivered to market over the next 18-24 months.
With the understanding that there are challenges to development feasibility due to broader market fundamentals, BPS and PHB recommend we explore a process to make adjustments or modifications to the Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code and Program requirements."

The Portland area is adding btw 6000-8000 apts/yr right now. And there's still a backlog of 1000s of units in pre-IH permits.

Maybe this program eventually works, but right now it's getting worked around, with 19-unit projects and new developments in the suburbs. This handful of affordable tiny rooms is barely a rounding error.

6

Ah, jeez... Another go round from the same "experts" who've been taking potshots at this program since it was first proposed 20 years ago.

Get over it. This community WILL take every necessary step to ensure that low income people can still live here. Don't like it? Go build in Texas or whatever other craphole will let you monetize peoples' suffering. That's not Portland.

7

No, Portland's Inclusionary Zoning is not "really harming developers". Developers are simply shifting business and doing projects in other less restrictive cities or building luxury single family to 10 unit projects instead, or they are keeping units empty and waiting which they can afford to do. It is however hurting the development of lower income housing in Portland, absolutely as the data and article clearly shows.

And at 280 measly units, the measure for success is a bar set so low that it has almost negligible affects in housing affordability or availability for under 80% mfi need and demands as well as keeping pace with continual growth - 1000 people moving her per month the past 12 months and continuing to do so.

And if the city doesn't have data (they DO have the data, they just don't want to share it because it makes IH look as much as a failure as housing experts say it is), then that speaks loads about the underlying problems with our dysfunctional city government and their inability to address or gauge affordable housing programs.

The other above commenters nail it. And while it's admirable the reporter is interested in this topic, it would behoove them to learn about housing markets, data, economics because the whole article is apparent the reporter has zero clue on this topic.

Finally, housing experts are exactly that, experts, which is why they get interviewed on their expert knowledge and experience rather than some some angry housing "activists" who have no idea what they are talking about or politicians more interested in populism who want to look like they are doing something to appease the masses. Experts who build, work in, do economics for, finance, provide housing of all levels warned that IH would be problematic before it was adopted, the numbers are showing it isn't working, and in yet another year or two or three we'll have the same story again. If this community WILL take every necessary step to ensure low income people can still live here, then "this community" can start by booting out their current city council, because City Council seems hellbent on doing everything they can to ensure our city's affordability woes continue. IH is a perfect example. Wishing otherwise doesn't make it so.

8

The marketplace will not produce affordable housing on its own. Land has become too valuable.

9

For decades, developers spent millions of tax dollars (through the Portland Development Commission) replacing affordable housing with luxury apartments. Now that the city is finally dealing with the consequences, developers are whining like junkies going through withdrawals. The party won't go on forever in Seattle or San Francisco either.

10

Developers also flooded Development Services before IZ was implemented to avoid dealing with it. Building was bound to slow down some immediately after that. I'm with Marisa, "“When you hear developers say, ‘It depends how you implement [IH],’ they’re talking about how you make developers happiest,” Zapata says."
Plus, why isn't the writer factoring in the "perks" the city gives. Developers aren't just expected to do IZ without some advantages, which could be worth a great deal of money. We should be analyzing what their perks are worth.

11

Are the developers' perks listed in the piece not correct?