Eliot Neighborhood Association
Land Use and Transportation Committee
Meeting Minutes from April 10, 2016, respectively submitted by Mike Warwick, Vice-Chair
Meeting was called to order by Chair Allan Rudwick at 7:10 PM
A quorum of the Committee was present, including Clint, Allan, Phil, Laurie and myself. Also preset were Nan Stark from Planning and residents Rebecca, Sara, and Ian.
Comp Plan Update and Zoning Tweaks
This meeting was scheduled to discuss individual land owner requests to Council during the Comp Plan review for changes to the zones proposed by either this Committee or Planning staff. These requests were directed by Council to Planning staff to address with neighborhood input, hence this meeting and Nan Stark’s presence. To recap, this Committee conducted a walking survey of the entire neighborhood outside of Lower Albina and recommended wholesale rezoning of much of the area, as summarized in a previous Committee Comp Plan Update discussion in April 2016.
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.
Concurrent with Planning’s changes this Committee’s proposal, Planning is also proposing changes to base zones. Accordingly, the previous Ex and other C (commercial) zones are being replaced with new CM (commercial, mixed-use) zones with similar allowances for size and use. Nan noted that there were very few requests for changes to proposed zones by property owners in her plan district (N/NE). Eliot has four, which is the most among all inner-NE neighborhoods, which had only 12 total. She invited all four of the property owners to attend this meeting so the Committee could hear their concerns. Two of the four were present; Rebecca and Ian (representing one property owner). As Nan explained, the initially proposed Comp Plan was adopted by Council. It included the changes noted in the previous LUC meeting notes. At that time, individual Council members could make suggested changes, which they did to satisfy constituent/contributor requests and personal whims. They also heard testimony from the public. Those were standing room only and long wait time meetings; nevertheless, Rebecca and the three other property owners provided testimony in person or writing. Council and/or Planning resolved many of these, but left a few for Planning staff to sort out. The process to do so is for meetings with the affected property owners and neighborhoods and, as I understand, for Planning staff to submit a recommendation to Council for it to decide. Property owners, neighbors, associations and others can continue to contribute to that decision, so the decision remains open for several more months. The final plan is expected to be implemented in early 2018.
Properties at Issue: Discussion and decisions
69 NE Hancock
This property and the one to the north (66 NE San Rafael) are 25 foot wide lots currently occupied by single family homes. To the east are more residences, but the adjacent building to the west is a tip up warehouse in commercial use. According to Ian, representing the property owner of 69 NE Hancock (but not the property to the north), the current use at this location is Air BNB, however it has been used for commercial purposes previously and the property owner is planning to convert to office uses in the future. The change in zoning from the current Ex to any R (residential) zone would allow for some of those uses, but will likely require a “conditional” use permit, which is costly. In addition, Ian suggested the owner has explored demolishing the building and constructing something consistent with existing Ex zoning. Consequently, he is requesting the property remain in the Ex/CM3 zone.
As indicated by the minutes from 2016, the proposed zone change was to preserve existing historic residences, especially were their continued presence provided a bulwark against erosion at the edges of Eliot’s historic district, which is based on its historic housing stock. There was no support from the committee to include the property to the north in the zone change (66 NE San Rafael); however, 3 committee members support the property owner’s request to retain the Ex zone. This support was based on Ian’s statements that the existing building will be repurposed in the near term, and thus accomplish our preservation objective. In addition, this property is outside the Eliot historic district (the border is its eastern property line). One member abstained from the vote.
509 NE Thompson
The current property is in the middle of the Historic District on this part of NE Thompson (east of MLK). Consequently, retaining the zone would result in a “spot” zone, which the Comp Plan process intends to eliminate. Rebecca has consistently opposed the zoning change for her “double” lot. The existing lot is 9,375 square feet (SF) and has an historic duplex and large side yard. If the property were evenly split, the proposed R2.5 zoning may not permit development of a new duplex or two small houses, which Rebecca indicated she may want to do in the future. In addition, dividing the lot would cost money that she does not believe she can afford. Because this would be a “spot” zone, there was considerable discussion about Rebecca’s circumstances and if it was unique or representative of other owners of large lots. Although there are ways the property could be divided to allow the development the owner desires, that would cost money she does not want to spend at this time, or incur the increased taxes that would result. It was noted that that cost would be a fraction of the cost of constructing anything new on the site and a lot division doesn’t need to be done at present. Committee members were sufficiently divided on this case that any decision was put off until the May meeting.
20 NE Tillamook
The property owner was not present, so Nan relayed his request. This property is part of a larger parcel that recently received approval from the Design Commission for a large, development proposal to the existing R2 density. Leaving the existing zoning will prevent this parcel from being non-conforming after that project is completed. The Committee supports this request.
25 NE Fargo
The property owner was not present, so Nan relayed their request. This is in an area that was zoned Rx. Rx zoning is a “central city” zone, so it allows development densities inappropriate in Eliot. Accordingly, we proposed a significant reduction in allowed density. However, this property was purchased for redevelopment consistent with Ex/EM3 density. The Committee has reviewed at least two different development proposals from the current property owners. We understand the property and associated development plans may be for sale. Retention of Eliot’s proposed zoning would reduce the value of both. In light of the fact the rest of this block and the adjacent previously Rx zoned lots are already developed or proposed to be developed to Ex level density and the existence of existing development plans, four Committee members supported the proposal. One member abstained.
The Chair adjourned the meeting at 8:45 PM