As described in this guest opinion that the Rogue Action Center and 1000 Friends of Oregon published in the Mail Tribune, the cities of Medford, Phoenix, Eagle Point, Central Point and Talent are going through a process that could lead to expanding their boundaries to include land that would be profitable for developers to build on.
Before expanding, cities must show that they are meeting their obligation under state law to ensure that they have housing that is affordable for local residents.
Statewide Land Use Goal 10 Requires every city and town to ensure it has enough land zoned to meet the residential needs of its current and future residents. It also requires that the zoning allow a diversity of housing types to support affordability and meet the needs of people.
Here are a few examples of actions our elected city officials can take to meet the needs of our community and their obligations under state law:
Create a construction excise tax: This would be a small tax on all construction in the city. The money would be used to attract additional state and federal funding, which would all be used to help create more affordable housing in the city. For more information on construction excise taxes and how they are working in other cities in Oregon, click here.
Create a systems development charge deferral program: Developers pay fees to the city to help offset the costs that new development brings—such as new streets, water and sewer pipes, parks, etc. Right now developers pay those fees before they begin construction. This would allow them to pay when construction is complete and they sell the homes. The total amount collected by the city would be the same, but developers would save money (and so would consumers) because they did not have to finance those costs up front.
Establish a permanent housing advisory committee: This group would be responsible for advising city council on housing policies, and would help develop programs to spend the excise tax revenues and review proposals to recommend which projects got funding.
Fix city policies that restrict housing choices: The city just got a grant from the state to revise its regulations to make building different types of housing easier. Encourage this activity. Suggest specific fixes, such as: allowing duplexes in single-family zones, allowing more mixed-use development in commercial areas, allowing developers to build more homes and apartments in a development if some of them are affordable, allowing “cottage cluster” developments and tiny houses, etc.
Create economic incentives to encourage more variety in housing: New programs that encouraged mixed-use development, construction of more apartments or of “missing middle” housing, incentives for homeowners to add accessory dwelling units. Funds from the construction excise tax could pay for these programs.