Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Chloe Eudaly Asks City to Research Possible Tax on Landlords With Vacant Units

In case you missed the latest news, Chloe Eudaly has now asked the Division of Revenue to look into a possible tax on rental units, among other options, equating landlords with vacant units to 'monsters withholding food or medicine from those in need'.

In a discussion this past week prompted by a two-year extension of the city's declaration of a housing emergency, Eudaly Eudaly is looking to raise an additional $50 million each year for homeless services. She indicated that there were 16,000 vacant units in Portland.

Mayor Wheeler wants council officials to coordinate current searches for additional funding for homeless and affordable housing services in upcoming budget sessions. The money would be used for "tenant opportunities to purchase, universal eviction defense funds, and other anti-displacement strategies," according to news reports.

In the video clip below, beginning at approximately 1:09 into the session, Commissioner Eudaly states the following about landlords:
“I want to go back to the state of emergency. What we were calling for was a rent freeze. We were calling on the city to recognize that we were dealing with a man-made disaster and while we could not advance that particular cause I am somewhat gratified by the actions in the state legislature to place a cap on rents although I think it’s too high as I think everyone knows. We were also calling for the legislature to stop holding our regulatory tools hostage and give them back to us so municipalities could manage their unique challenges and that includes rent control as well as setting just cause standards for no-cause evictions. 
"Commissioner Fish thank you for that walk down memory lane but I want to take us back more than thirty years when a group of powerful lobby interests in the landlord, real estate and homebuilding arenas pushed our legislature to ban rent control at a time when rents were relatively low and vacancy was high in Portland, setting the stage for what became open season on Oregon renters. Portland currently has the highest number of cost-burdened households among six or seven different cities it’s higher than Seattle, Austin, Salt Lake City, Nashville and Indianapolis. So it is particularly bad here and I believe it's because in no small part we have not been allowed to regulate. 
"It seems that most of my job is making up for the failures of capitalism. It is very frustrating that we rarely get around to the conversation of actually fixing the system and most of our conversations are focused on policies that really serve as band-aids to a flawed and broken system. So I am also looking forward to some of those conversations. As a housing tenant advocate the most frequent response I’ve heard from people other than ‘if you can’t afford it just move’ was, ‘it’s economics 101 It’s all about supply and demand.’ Well, news flash. We have a supply. We have an estimated 16,000 vacant apartments in the City of Portland but we also have a gross product mismatch between the housing that was supplied and the demand that exists. So it’s not economics 101 friends it’s actually a lot more complicated than that and that is one of the many reasons that I really hope that we pursue the possibility of a vacancy tax. 
"I can think of few other scenarios where we have people suffering on the streets and we have people hoarding a resource that is a basic need and a human right and we don’t see those people as… I want to choose my words very carefully right now… if you were sitting on a pile of food or medicine that people needed that was otherwise going to waste, you would be seen as a monster. If you were sitting on a pile of housing that people desperately need that is otherwise going to waste, it’s just business, and I don’t buy that. I think I’ll leave it at that.” 

Expert: "Alarm Bells Ringing" in Portland City Government Over Pending Slowdown in Housing Construction

The President of ECONorthwest, John Taponga, told attendees at a Portland Business Alliance breakfast forum last week that Portland's homeless crisis was being driven by the high cost of housing. "The [city's] inclusionary zoning requirement is well-intentioned but misapplied and needs to be reconsidered," he said. Read more in the Business Tribune. 

Multifaily NW Responds to SB 608 and State Rent Control

With rent control coming to Oregon, Multifamily NW asked that lawmakers offer direction and resources for research and follow-up, among other things. Read more.  

The editors of the Rental Housing Journal advised landlords to proceed with caution in light of the impending change to the law.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Oregon House Passes Rent Control Bill

The Oregon House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 608 with a 35-25 vote today. The bill's passage makes Oregon the first in the nation with a statewide rent control policy. It caps annual rent increases to 7% plus inflation, with exemptions for affordable housing and buildings less than 15 years old. It also restricts no-cause evictions. SB 608 will now go to Governor Kate Brown's desk for a signature. Read more.

Portland Wants Earthquake Ready Buildings - But What's the Cost?

Is the Portland City Council ready to reconsider its recent ordinance requiring placards on unreinforced masonry buildings? Their commitment to such a requirement now appears to be wavering in the face of opposition from groups including the NAACP and a lawsuit. The Portland Mercury reports.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch - February 25, 2019

The City of Portland has extended its housing emergency another two years to 2021; Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney proposes a bill requiring cities to upzone land within a half mile of frequent transit stops, and Oregon Senate Bill 608 may head to the floor of the Oregon House for a vote as early as this week. Its passage would mark the nation's first statewide rent control bill.

Listen to our latest podcast.

The New York Times on Oregon's Rent Control Bill

The New York Times published an article discussing Oregon's proposal for statewide rent control, which is likely to go to the House floor for a vote this week. The Times looks at rent trends throughout the state that have led to calls for state level mitigation - a 21% rent increase in Bend over the last three years, a 2% vacancy rate in Medford, and increasing commutes for University of Oregon students who can't afford to live in Eugene. The article also points out that Portland has some of the strongest tenant protections in the nation. Read more.

Portland Bureau of Development Services Proposing Increased Fees Due to Low Construction Activity

Portland's Bueau of Development Services (BDS) is looking to increase Land Use Services Division fees by an average of 5%. The increase is a result of a slowdown in construction activity and increased operating expenses. According to BDS Senior Business Operations Manager Elshad Hajiyev, "Specifically, the decline (is) in large multifamily construction." The City Council plans to hold a second reading on the proposal February 27th. Read more.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Report: City Gets an Earful from Owners of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings

The Portland City Council accepted public testimony yesterday at a hearing on the unreinforced placard ordinance, and as the Portland Tribune reports, owners had a lot to say.

The Council will hold a vote on Wednesday, February 27th on whether to make changes to the existing ordinance recently passed by the City Council.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Republicans Seek Amendments on Oregon Rent Control Bill

Republicans in the Oregon Senate are objecting to the swift passing of SB 608 without sufficient time for public comment and consideration of amendments, senators stated yesterday in a public release. Read more. 

Portland Business Alliance Releases 2018 Value of Jobs Economic Check Up For Portland, East Multnomah County

The Portland Business Alliance released its 2018 Regional Value of Jobs Economic Check-up this morning, along with a special report on East Multnomah County. 

Speaker John Tapogna, President of ECONorthwest highlighted five key takeaways at the event.

  1. Portland has grown significantly its college-educated population as compared to our peer regions of Seattle, Austin, Salt Lake City, Nashville and Indianapolis. From 2010-2017, Portland increased by 20% the number of those age 25+ with an associates degree or higher.  
  2. Portland's wealth is more equitable relative to our peer cities, yet is still sorely lacking in wealth equality for Black/African American residents.
  3. Commute times is increasing all peer group regions with Portland ranking second with 42% of workers with commutes longer than 30 minutes, second only to Seattle, which has half of all workers driving or commuting longer than 30 minutes.
  4. Portland stands in the middle of the pack of our peer groups with respect to employment growth. 
  5. Portland's cost-burdened households for both owner-occupied residents is the highest among the peer group cities. Portland is now less affordable than Seattle, Salt Lake, Austin, Nashville or Indianapolis. 
Also notable among Tapogna's remarks: "What drives Portland's homelessness is the high cost of housing."

Metro Seeks Land for Affordable Housing

According to Emily Lieb, Metro Housing Bond Program Manager, "Oregon Metro is looking to acquire land for new construction of housing units rather than purchasing existing buildings with the bond fund we administer in-house." Lieb indicated that several of Metro's local government partners, including cities, may be looking to acquire properties through a nonprofit partner. Read and download a copy of the program work plan here

New NE Portland Affordable Housing Project Remains 70% Vacant

Nearly 3 months after the opening of the Beatrice Morrow Cannady affordable housing development in Northeast Portland, the building remains 70% vacant. The city received 1,500 applications from residents eager to take advantage of the city’s plan to return people displaced by gentrification and urban renewal back to North and Northeast Portland, but at the time the building opened only three people had been accepted to move into the 80-unit building. The City is partnering with Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, or PCRI, on the project, but a public records request indicates that the nonprofit has been attempting to abandon the city’s right to return criteria. According to Maxine Fitzpatrick, executive director of PCRI, the city’s criteria was too strict, and created an onerous process for prospective renters. Nearby, the Charlotte B. Rutherford Building developed by Central City Concern did not open until early December but had filled 49 of 51 units by February. Read more.

OR Senate President Introduces Bill to Upzone Transit-Rich Neighborhoods

Senate President Peter Courtney proposed a bill this week, known as Senate Bill 10, that would require cities in the Portland Metro Area to allow 75 housing units per acre within a quarter mile of frequent transit. It would also allow 45 units per acre within half a mile of frequent transit, and 140 units per acre within a quarter mile of a light rail station. A map of frequent service lines shows that many run through the city's single family zoned neighborhoods. SB 10 would allow for more density in places where residents could more comfortably live without a vehicle. Read more.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Update: Hearing Wednesday 02/20 at Portland City Hall on Revised URM Placard Ordinance

HFO received the following announcement from Save Portland Buildings:

City Councilor Jo Ann Hardesty has filed a proposed resolution calling for:
• Repeal of the current contract
• Repeal of tenant notification and disclosures in rental contracts
• Substitution of disclosures in rental applications starting 6/1/2019
• DELAY of placarding requirement until 11/1/2020
• Signing of a new UNRECORDED agreement

Press Release:
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Approximately 11:00
1221 SW 4th Avenue
Arrive early (9:15) to sign up for testimony. A vote is scheduled for 2-27-19.

• There will be a rally in front of City Hall at 10:00


Injunction Order

Injunction Hearing Transcript

Amit Kumar (BDS) Deposition

Jonna Papaefthimiou (PBEM) Deposition

Multifamily Marketwatch - February 18, 2019

This week: Oregon Senate Bill 608 capping rent increases and imposing strict no-cause eviction requirements passed through the Senate; The Portland City Club takes a stand against Portland's current form of governance in its latest report, and a new study by the Federal Reserve finds student loan debt prevents young adults from buying a home.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Judge Issues 60-Day Injunction for URM Placards

Oregon US District Court Judge John Acosta issued a 60-day injunction for Portland's placarding requirement for unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings. An ordinance requiring the placards passed through the city council with a 3-0 vote last October, and commercial building owners were given a deadline of March 1st to post the signs. Earlier this week, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty introduced a resolution that would delay the requirement until November 2020, but it has not yet gone before the Council for a vote. The evidentiary hearing for the lawsuit against the placarding ordinance was originally scheduled for February 26th, but Judge Acosta has rescheduled it to April 25th. Read more.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

City Club Event: Does Portland Need a New Form of Government?

The City Club held an event at the Alberta Rose Theater last night to discuss their recently released report on whether Portland needs a new form of city government. Speakers included Kristin Eberhard of the Sightline Institute, Jesse Beason of the Northwest Health Foundation, Mischa Webley of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, former city auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade, former parks director Mike Abbaté, John Russell of Russell Development, and researcher Amanda Menjarrez.

Eberhard gave a brief history of the commission form of government, which was first established after a massive storm in Galveston, Texas. The philosophy behind this form of government was that subject matter experts would be better able to run city bureaus efficiently and with less corruption. Portland adopted the commission form of government in 1913 out of frustration with the previous system, where elected officials would put their biggest financial backers in charge of bureaus as a reward. But in Portland, the Commissioners are not required to be experts and the Mayor has the power to re-assign bureaus at will. 

Former city officials Griffin-Valade and Abbaté emphasized the extent to which this can cause chaos at city agencies. Griffin-Valade explained that commissioners' allegience to the bureaus they are in charge of can create unnecessary "turf wars," which make it hard for bureau staffs to resolve conflicts. Abbaté added that when bureaus get reassigned, priorities can change drastically and staff are left scrambling. 

Mischa Webley discussed the role neighborhood coalitions are forced to play in the absence of district-based representation. He described the initiative to create a new form of government as "the most boring revolution," but said it is necessary to give neighborhood stakeholders input. Webley said that NECN and other similar groups are forced to fill a hole left by a system of government that is not accountable to city residents.

John Russell admitted that he helped orchestrate the defeat of the ballot measure that would have changed Portland's form of government several years ago. At the time, he believed that the plan for a new form of government was not fully thought through, and he believed the system worked when there was an exceptional mayor in charge, such as Vera Katz. But he now believes that democracy works best when representation scales down to the local level. He advocates a robust, transparent public process to determine where the city should go from here.

Amanda Menjarrez, who represented the research committee that wrote the report, said that the at-large voting system means that only the large white majority and the largest donors are represented in Portland's city government. She said that while the city population has more than tripled since 1913, the number of commissioners has remained the same - the research committee did not find another large city where such a small council represented so many people. The research committee advocates creating a district-based system with 8-12 representatives, and a new voting system that would incorporate instant runoff and ranked choice voting. While the research committee advocates for a council-manager system, they are hoping to start a transparent public dialogue to determine what the best system of government will be to bring the city into the future.

Rental Housing Journal Analysis: Washington State Eviction Legislation

In a report this week the Rental Housing Journal summarized pending legislation in Washington State that would alter eviction requirements. The analysis includes a summary in favor and in opposition to the measures. Read more.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Oregon House Public Hearing on Rent Control is Monday, Feb. 18th at 1 pm [time changed]

The House Human Services and Housing Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 608 on Monday, February 18 at 1pm in Hearing room 50 at the State Capitol Building. [Note that the Oregon Legislature does not observe Presidents' Day].

Any previously submitted testimony to the Senate committee can be sent to House Committee members, who are listed below.   

Members of the House Human Services and Housing Committee:

Committee Chair - Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer
Democrat - District 46 - Portland

Committee Vice-Chair - Representative Ronald H. Noble
Republican - District 24 - McMinnville

Committee Vice-Chair - Representative Tawna D. Sanchez
Democrat - District 43 - Portland

Representative Cheri Helt
Republican - District 54 - Bend

Representative Mark Meek
Democrat - District 40 - Clackamas County

Representative Tiffiny Mitchell
Democrat - District 32 - Cannon Beach

Representative Sheri Schouten
Democrat - District 27 - Beaverton

Representative Anna Williams
Democrat - District 52 - Hood River

Representative Jack Zika
Republican - District 53 - Redmond

To submit your testimony or exhibits for the public record (strongly recommended) please send to:

The implications of this legislation are:

Rent Control
  • The bill limits rent increases in buildings that are more than 15 years old to 7% plus inflation and restricts no cause evictions after a tenant's first 12 months in a rental.
  • The allowable percentage for rent increases in a given year will be calculated and released by September 30th the previous year by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. If a landlord raises rent by more than that amount, the landlord will be required to compensate the tenant with the equivalent of 3 months’ rent plus damages.
No-Cause Evictions
No-cause evictions can still be issued with 30 days’ notice during the first year of tenancy or with ten days’ notice during a week to week tenancy. After the first year of a fixed-term tenancy, there are specific cases where a landlord can issue a no-cause eviction, as long as the landlord provides 30 days’ notice accompanied by the equivalent of one month’s rent.

The landlord may do this if they:
  • Intend to demolish a unit or convert it to a nonresidential use;
  • If the unit is unsafe for occupancy;
  • If the unit cannot be occupied during necessary repairs or renovations;
  • If the landlord or a member of their immediate family plans to live in the unit and no other similar unit is available; or
  • If the landlord has received an offer from someone who intends to buy the unit and use it as a primary residence.
There are also provisions for no-cause evictions with a 90-day notice for a fixed-term tenancy, as well as for no-cause evictions pertaining to month-to-month tenancies.

Wrongful Eviction ClaimsIf a tenant claims being wrongfully evicted within one year, the landlord must pay three months’ rent plus damages.

After the landlord issues an allowable no-cause eviction, they cannot raise the rent more than 7% plus CPI before renting the unit to a new tenant.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch - February 11, 2019

Oregon's rent control bill sails through the Senate Housing Committee after four hours of public testimony; Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Washington plan to introduce a variety of bills to reform that state's eviction laws; a new Brookings Institution study concludes that zoning restrictions are holding back the American economy.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Brookings Institute Hamilton Project: Land Use Restrictions Limit Housing Affordability in Booming Local Economies

A new report by the Brookings Institute's Hamilton Project finds that lower- and middle-income Americans are effectively shut out of booming metro areas due to the high cost of housing. The report finds that high housing costs are driven by land-use restrictions that limit housing growth, and thus access to opportunities for higher paying jobs, better access to health care, and educational attainment. The study gives examples of cities that have used mid-level zoning and public investment in housing, such as Montreal and Vienna, where housing is more affordable to average workers. The author, Daniel Shoag of Harvard's Kennedy School and Case Western Reserve University, advocates relaxing excessive land use restrictions, establishing by-right development policies, and investing in transportation. Shoag outlines the negative effects of rent control, which he calls "an ineffective remedy to the fundamental problem, even if they can temporarily shelter those fortunate enough to benefit from the rent control from price increases." Instead, he believes a more effective solution would include wide-scale upzoning, not just in the poorest neighborhoods where neighborhood opposition tends to be the weakest, in conjunction with housing voucher programs that are based on Small Area Fair Market rents. Read more. 

A CityLab summary of the report's findings can be found here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Outcome Predetermined? 20 Minutes After Hearing Ends, Release Announces SB 608 Advancement to Senate Floor

20 minutes after the conclusion of the hearing in Salem on SB 608, the following media release was issued by the Senate Majority Office:

February 4, 2019
CONTACT: Rick Osborn 503-986-1074

Rent stabilization bill advances to Senate floor 

SB 608: Healthy and thriving families need safe and stable housing 

SALEM – A bill that would stabilize out-of-control rent hikes for residential properties across the state is advancing to the Oregon Senate for a vote. 

Senate Bill 608 – which passed out of the Senate Committee on Housing today with a “do pass” recommendation – would eliminate the potential for many “no cause” evictions on residential tenancies. It also would cap annual rental increases. 

The bill would provide certainty for Oregon’s renters by ensuring they won’t face enormous and unforeseen rent increases or be kicked out of their homes. Safe and stable housing is a central requirement for healthy families to thrive and for children to excel in school. Sen. Shemia Fagan, D-Portland, chairs the Senate Housing Committee and is a leader on the issue of housing. 

“Last December, I met an 83-year-old renter who was afraid to ask maintenance to fix her lights for fear of eviction or a rent spike,” Fagan said. “She had lived in the dark for 3 months by the time I met her. SB 608 protects her and hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who deserve safe and stable rental housing.” 

The bill prohibits landlords from terminating month-to-month tenancies without cause after one year of occupancy. Tenants would be entitled to advanced [sic] written notice, ranging from 30 to 90 days, if they are going to be evicted. The bill also would cap annual rent increases to 7 percent – plus the consumer price index – over the existing year’s rents. Landlords who fail to comply with those provisions would pay three months’ rent, plus actual damages, to the tenants affected by the eviction or rent increase. 

Numerous Oregonians from various parts of the state provided oral or written testimony on the legislation. The bill now will go to the full Senate for a vote. 

“Today, working hard is no guarantee that you will be able to put a roof over your head – let alone a healthy and stable one,” Habitat for Humanity of Oregon Executive Director Shannon Vilhauer said in written testimony. “We believe Oregon is better than that. Every Oregonian should be able to find a decent and affordable place to live. Diligent renters deserve the opportunity to plant roots in their local communities. Every child benefits when classrooms stabilize.” 


Click here to watch the video of yesterday's hearing.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Washington Legislature Weighing Eviction Reform

A handful of bills under consideration in the Washington state legislature aim to reform the eviction process for renters. State Senator Patty Kuderer of Bellevue is sponsoring SB 5600, which would give tenants 14 days to pay overdue rent - up from 3 days currently. It also requires landlords to give 60-days' notice for a change in rent. State Representative Andrew Barkis of Olympia, who was a landlord for 25 years, is introducing a four-bill package relating to eviction reform. His bills would give tenants 120 days notice of eviction prior to a demolition, and 60 days notice for rent increases above 10%. Landlords would also be required to provide tenants with an information guide explaining their rights and responsibilities when they move. Representative Nicole Macri of Seattle is working to craft a bill that would eliminate no cause evictions. Read more.

Majority of Portland City Council Is Against URM Placards

The majority of current Portland City Council members is now against the placarding requirement for URM buildings. According to the Portland Tribune, Commissioners Eudaly and Fish, who were absent during the original vote on the policy, have recently expressed their opposition to it. Fish stated, "I do not support placards, or any new mandate, until we have an agreement on a comprehensive solution to the problem. And that has to include incentives to help offset the costs for small property owners." Mayor Wheeler still stands by his decision to require the placards. Read more.

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - February 4, 2019

This week: Oregon ranks as the nation's 32nd safest city with Washington ranking 34th, 17 Seattle area CEOs form an alliance asking for more housing for middle-class residents and Greater Portland's Metro government prepares a large-scale transportation levy for the 2020 ballot. 

Listen to our latest podcast.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Hardesty Directs Fire Bureau to Delay Enforcement of Placarding Ordinance

Recently elected Portland city council member Jo Ann Hardesty has directed the Fire Bureau to indefinitely delay enforcement of the placarding requirement for unreinforced masonry buildings. In a statement, Hardesty said the city should be doing more to support local businesses and nonprofits in performing seismic upgrades. She stated, "Until we have better support in place, especially in the form of funding assistance for these projects, I want placarding enforcement on hold for businesses and non-profit organizations." Mayor Wheeler emphasized that placarding is still required by law. Attorney John DiLorenzo, who is representing the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the URM placards, has said that the lawsuit will continue to go ahead because the Bureau of Development Services could still enforce the requirement. Read more.