LUTC Minutes 2016-04-11

Eliot Neighborhood Association
Land Use Committee
Minutes for April 11th, 2016

Submitted by Mike Warwick, Vice Chair

Meeting was called to order by Chair Allan Rudwick at 7:10 PM

Attendance was taken via sign-in sheet and a quorum of the Committee was present.

Grant Warehouse low-income housing project

PRCI is in the early stages of development of this project at the former Grant Warehouse site at MLK and south of Ivy.  The site was acquired by PDC after the Grant Warehouse structure was demolished and toxic materials found at the site cleaned up by the EPA.  The site was then slated for affordable housing.  At this stage of the process, the floorplans and floorplates are fairly well developed.  These were presented with copies circulated.  However exterior materials are not final, therefore they were unable to provide elevations.  They are willing to return later when those are available.

The site is zoned Rh, which allows a building up to 75 feet tall.  A 5 story building is planned.    Retail is allowed up to some maximum of the floor area.  The floorplan is U-shaped facing MLK with a courtyard and parking in the rear.  The current plan is for retail spaces on the north and south corners on the MLK face with the entry lobby and community space in-between.  A total of 76 rental units are planned: 32 1-bedroom, 32 2-bedroom, and 12 3- bedroom.  There will be parking spaces for 28 vehicles plus a loading space behind the building.  A play area is also planned for the courtyard.  Units will be for residents at or below 60% of median family income.  There will be an on-site manager.  Access to the building will be controlled.  A point was made that this prevents face-to-face contacts with residents as part of community outreach by politicians and others.

Comprehensive Plan Discussion

The Comprehensive Plan is being submitted to City Council for review and adoption.  The theme of the Plan is to concentrate new dense development in “centers” and along “civic corridors” so as to preserve existing lower density residential areas.  There is a “center” in Eliot anchored by Williams, Vancouver, and Fremont.  “Civic corridors” include Williams, Vancouver, and MLK.  In addition, the two blocks north of Broadway and the wedge between I-5 and Williams south of Russell, as well as all of Lower Albina are in the Central City plan district.  These areas are all slated for mixed use or industrial zoning for more intensive development.  In response to resident expressions during the Board’s listening sessions and Board and Land Use committee meetings, preservation of Eliot’s historic housing stock and existing neighborhood character was a focus of the Land Use Committee’s proposal for changes to zoning as part of the Central City and Comp Plan processes.  Consistent with the theme of the Plan, the Land Use Committee proposed to change zoning along the civic corridors to mixed use zones where previous high density residential only zoning was in place.  This was a response to the fact that much of the available mixed use zoned properties on these corridors has recently been developed for residential only uses, reducing opportunities for business and retail development along these corridors.  The remaining residential areas were proposed to be changed from the low density multiple family (R2) to a single family zone (R2.5).  This change will limit the size of new in-fill developments that residents have complained about.  This proposal was modified by City Planning staff to apply solely to properties within the Eliot Historic Conservation District.

The Comprehensive Plan is being submitted to City Council for review and adoption.  The theme of the Plan is to concentrate new dense development in “centers” and along “civic corridors” so as to preserve existing lower density residential areas.  There is a “center” in Eliot anchored by Williams, Vancouver, and Fremont.  “Civic corridors” include Williams, Vancouver, and MLK.  In addition, the two blocks north of Broadway and the wedge between I-5 and Williams south of Russell, as well as all of Lower Albina are in the Central City plan district.  These areas are all slated for mixed use or industrial zoning for more intensive development.  In response to resident expressions during the Board’s listening sessions and Board and Land Use committee meetings, preservation of Eliot’s historic housing stock and existing neighborhood character was a focus of the Land Use Committee’s proposal for changes to zoning as part of the Central City and Comp Plan processes.  Consistent with the theme of the Plan, the Land Use Committee proposed to change zoning along the civic corridors to mixed use zones where previous high density residential only zoning was in place.  This was a response to the fact that much of the available mixed use zoned properties on these corridors has recently been developed for residential only uses, reducing opportunities for business and retail development along these corridors.  The remaining residential areas were proposed to be changed from the low density multiple family (R2) to a single family zone (R2.5).  This change will limit the size of new in-fill developments that residents have complained about.  This proposal was modified by City Planning staff to apply solely to properties within the Eliot Historic Conservation District.

The Multnomah County Assessor to significantly increase property tax assessments at sites where Accessory Dwelling Units were installed in some neighborhoods, claiming that constituted a “rezoning” of the property.  Those property owners were unaware of this possibility as the Assessor had not applied this reasoning to other ADUs in the past.  This attracted the attention of both the press and politicos and is unresolved.  Zoning in Eliot allows ADUs so the Assessor has determined this doesn’t apply here, although all new ADUs are assessed at market value as “new construction,” just like a remodel of an existing residence is.

Several residents came to the meeting to express their concern that Eliot’s rezoning proposal would result in all of the affected properties being automatically reassessed at current market values.  The Committee has attempted to obtain assurances from staff in the City and County including from the Assessor that this is not the case.  Staff from the Assessor’s office have indicated that rezoning that doesn’t change the allowed use of property normally doesn’t trigger reassessment.  The proposed change from R2 to R2.5 doesn’t change the allowed use, which remains “Residential.”  The Committee heard the concerns of the visiting residents and some members and recounted the assurances we had received; however, meeting participants pressed to have something submitted as part of our Comp Plan testimony withdrawing support from our proposed zone change request IF it would trigger wholesale reassessment of Eliot properties.  It was pointed out that roughly a third of the entire City is being rezoned through the Central City Plan and changes to existing Commercial and Employment zones.  Property owners affected by these changes do not share the concerns being expressed.  Since the property owners affected include some of the most powerful individuals in the City, this suggests wholesale rezoning shouldn’t be a concern.  It was also pointed out that wholesale rezoning didn’t accompany the last Comp Plan or comprehensive plans submitted by other communities thus far (all urban areas are required to submit Comp Plans).  Finally, it was noted that there have been no complaints received regarding the zone changes for the “centers” and “corridors,” which are much more likely to trigger reassessment than in Eliot’s residential areas.  As a result, Council is likely to adopt those changes, which will bring increased density to Eliot.  If the existing R2 zone is retained for residential properties, it will encourage continued housing demolitions and in-fill development that will destroy Eliot’s historic housing stock and erode Eliot’s character.

In the middle of the discussion a homeless individual interrupted the proceeding with a heartfelt, if rambling discourse on Eliot’s neighborliness.  This was a timely reminder to all present that we are neighbors, not enemies, which led to a motion for the Chair to send Comp Plan testimony to withdraw support for the original rezoning proposal if wholesale reassessment would result.  The motion was seconded, and approved by a 4 to 0 voice vote.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:15 PM

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2 thoughts on “LUTC Minutes 2016-04-11

  1. Your minutes seem to be missing my stated testimony and opposition to the down zoning of my property at 506 N.E. Thompson st.

    Rebecca Mode

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