Update on HB 2007

Restore Oregon Provided Testimony on HB 2007 Today in Salem; Still Time to Take Action

Still Time to Tell Legislators to either FIX IT or VOTE NO!

Today Restore Oregon’s Executive Director, Peggy Moretti, headed to Salem to provide testimony on HB 2007 before the Ways and Means subcommittee on National Resources. Here’s what she had to say, June 22, 2017:

“I’m Peggy Moretti, Executive Director of Restore Oregon, a statewide non-profit whose mission is to preserve, reuse, and pass forward the historic places that make our communities livable and sustainable. Thank you for this opportunity to testify. We remain very concerned that HB 2007 will do far more harm than good.

While we applaud and support any effort to fast-track affordable housing – inside or outside of historic neighborhoods – this bill:

  • Incentivizes more demolition of existing modest-priced homes.
  • Provides little that will spur construction of new affordable homes.
  • Usurps local zoning control without sufficient public process.
  • Strips the Goal 5-mandated baseline of protection from future historic districts.

Even with the latest amendments, HB 2007 is still based on a set of false assumptions:

  • First, HB 2007 assumes the way to create more affordability is to “build baby, build.” This trickle-down theory doesn’t work in economics and it doesn’t work for affordable housing… just look at the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • The bill assumes that design review is a major obstacle to market-rate housing development. There is no evidence of this.
  • And it scapegoats historic districts, which make up just 1% to 3% of residential zoning, claiming they are populated by NYMBIES seeking to block density or low-income development. This name calling is highly offensive and unfounded.
  • In fact, absolutely nothing about historic districts prohibits the development of affordable housing, ADUs, or infill. The intent of historic districts is not to prevent change, but to manage change… to ensure new construction is compatible and the unique history and character of that place is not lost. There is huge public benefit in that.

Our concern is not limited to designated historic districts; but the overall character and livability of our cities.

Restore Oregon has been tracking each and every residential demolition in Portland. There were 376 in 2016, not including the “remodels” leaving only two walls standing. A few of these homes were derelict. But most were perfectly good, modest-priced homes, and many were rentals. In no case that we know of were they replaced with affordable housing.

Nor was density increased in any meaningful way. Our analysis shows an average of less than one-point-five (1.5) new units for each unit demolished. The vast majority of demo’s are 1-for-1. But a lot of neighborhood character and affordability was lost… not to mention tons of material sent to the landfill. This bill does nothing to change this!

Restore Oregon, with a coalition of organizations and neighborhoods, has proposed amendments that would FIX HB 2007. I urge you to adopt them as a package. They would:

  • Focus incentives on the creation of affordable housing, not market-rate housing.
  • Prohibit demolition of structurally sound, habitable housing, unless its replaced with multiple units, and at least half are affordable.
  • Enable the internal conversion of existing houses into as many as four units without triggering the cost-prohibitive commercial building code.
  • Leave the modest baseline of protection for new historic districts in place as provided by the recently revised Goal 5 rules. All it requires is demolition review.

Specific language was emailed to Ways and Means on June 13th.

Final comments pertaining to historic districts: I want to acknowledge recent amendments that retain the option for additional local protection. That is very important. But language remains that, per my conversations with city planning departments, creates two sets of regulations for historic districts (based on when they were designated) that is confusing, costly, administratively unworkable, and will likely result in legal action.

The root cause of many of the concerns we’re grappling with here is Oregon’s uniquely dysfunctional system for protecting and managing our historic resources. Restore Oregon is committed to working with legislators and land use planners in a thoughtful, deliberative process that would replace it with a more balanced and locally-driven system of protections and incentives.

But this bill is not the place, and would simply muddle it up further.”

Stay tuned for further updates as Restore Oregon continues to advocate for our most loved places in Oregon.

You can still email your feedback to the committee.

Read our full Advocacy Alert from Tuesday, June 20, 2017 for how to email your feedback to the committee.

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