Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Oregon's Population Continues to Grow by Numbers Not Seen in More Than 20 Years

New residents are pushing Oregon's explosive growth for a second straight year, according to a new study by the Portland State University Center for Population Research.

The study indicated Oregon's population increased by 64,750 between 2016 and 2017, up from a similar gain of 62,505 between 2015 and 2015; both numbers represent a 1.6% year-over-year increase and the largest growth over a two-year period since the early 1990s.

Since 2012 net migration into Oregon has added 200,000 residents. Portland continued to add more residents than other cities, with 11,705 new residents this past year, an increase of 1.8%.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Business Journal: Private Sector Creative Solutions for Homelessness DOA at City of Portland, Multnomah County

The cover story of this week's Portland Business Journal: How government rejection of creative solutions from the private sector for housing the homeless is not helpful.

The news outlet cites the failures of government in addressing the homeless problem--specifically using the examples of Multnomah County's failure to accept the use of Wapato as a homeless transition center, and the City of Portland's rejection of turning the City's Terminal 1 facility in Northwest Portland into a huge campus for a shelter and services.

The City of Portland says it needs help from the business community, but local developers are discouraged by the bureaucratic responses to their efforts. Some of the many local developers taking action to help with homelessness include Tom Brenneke, Brad Malsin, Barry and Jordan Menashe, Homer Williams, Rob Justus and others. Kevin Cavenaugh of Guerrilla Development will open a multifamily project, reserving 18 units to rent at $600 a month for social workers seeking to make an impact in area homelessness.

If you have a Business Journal subscription, read the full article here.

City Audit of Prosper Portland Finds Financial Mismanagement

The Portland Auditor's Office has found significant evidence of financial mismanagement at Prosper Portland, formerly the Portland Development Commission. When auditors looked into four of the commission's most significant properties, they found that the agency had not gotten reliable information from contractors, and had not prepared financial forecasts or planned for upkeep at the properties. Prosper Portland also paid the operators of the Inn at the Convention Center $600,000 in 2016, almost five times the market rate for services provided. The Auditor's Office found that the agency is not ready to transition away from its current revenue stream to a plan that relies more heavily on its real estate operations. Last year the commission made $5.9 million in gross operating income from its properties, but after expenses only saw a profit of just $1.7 million. Read more.

Monday, November 27, 2017

2035 Comprehensive Plan Implementation Delayed Until May

Portland's 2035 Comprehensive Plan has been set to go into effect January 1, 2018, but the City Council is likely to delay it until May 23, 2018. Kurt Creager of the Portland Housing Bureau had asked for the delay in order to give the Land Conservation and Development Commission more time to rule on appeals to the plan. The 2035 Comprehensive Plan includes zoning changes that affect large portions of the city, and the Residential Infill Plan and Central City 2035 Plan cannot go into effect prior to the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. Read more.

Milwaukie City Council Approves 1% Construction Excise Tax

The city of Milwaukie in Clackamas County has approved a 1% excise tax on new residential, commercial, and industrial development. The funds raised by the tax will go toward building affordable housing units, as well as assisting community development programs.

The Milwaukie City Council is also set to consider a new resolution to extend the housing state of emergency. They originally declared the emergency in April 2016, and then voted on a six month extension in April 2017. That extension is now expired, but according to City Manager Ann Ober the 90-day notice for no-cause evictions remains in effect. The City Council will likely extend the housing emergency until April 2018, unless the vacancy rises above 4% before that date. Read more.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tenants Sue Landlord Who Was Also Linchpin Senate Vote Against Rent Control

Portland Tenants United (PTU) is doubling down on its fight against Sen. Rod Monroe (D-East Portland) who was the linchpin vote against rent control in Oregon during the 2017 legislative session. PTU hooked up renters of one unit in Monroe's apartments who were itching to sue. Read the full story.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - November 20, 2017

This week: A major Portland homebuilder announced he will no longer build in the city due to excessive permitting times; Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler calls on the business community to help with homelessness; businesses complain city bureaucrats won't work with them.

Check out this episode!

San Jose's Mercury News: "Rent Control Likely Fueled Gentrification of San Francisco"

A Stanford University paper presented at the National Bureau of Economic Research conference found that following the implementation of rent controls in 1995, the number of available rental units dropped by 30% as landlords rebuilt rentals or converted them to condos. Read more.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Local Developer: Portland's Permitting Process is "Slower and More Complicated Than Any Other City We Work In"

The Portland Tribune spoke with residential developer Jeff Smith of J.T. Smith Companies, who has said he will no longer build new homes in Portland. Smith explains that the city's long and complicated permitting process has left his company unable to predict project costs. Smith also points out that the permitting delays work against the City Council's goal of encouraging builders to increase the housing supply in the city. In response, David Austin of the Bureau of Development Services says that the bureau is "committed to eliminating inefficiencies in the system." Read more.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Spokane's Push for Development on Surface Parking Lots Could Lead to Statewide Changes

The City of Spokane is hoping to revitalize its downtown by providing incentives for development on surface parking lots. City Council President Ben Stuckart is proposing a 10-year property tax exemption for developments built on existing parking lots, which are scattered throughout the downtown area. In order to achieve this goal, Spokane would need permission from the Washington state legislature. If the state grants permission to Spokane, it would open the door for such proposals in comparable cities such as Tacoma and Vancouver. Read more.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - November 13, 2017

This week: Metro regional government releases a report concluding that Portland lacks adequate affordable housing; Bend considers ways to assist renters and affordable housing advocates speak out about the loss of specialized bonds that could eliminate construction of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units.

Check out this episode!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Catholic Charities Running Up Against Landlord-Tenant Laws at Women's Village

Catholic Charities has run into a hurdle in its administration of the Kenton Women's Village because of landlord-tenant laws. The nonprofit organization had instituted a zero-tolerance policy for illegal activity, but were recently told by the Portland City Attorney's office that residents are protected by normal landlord-tenant laws, and evictions must go through normal proceedings. Catholic Charities issued a statement in response, saying, "Because Catholic Charities is committed to assuring the wellbeing of villagers and maintaining a healthy environment for those participating in the program, we find the City Attorney's interpretation of landlord-tenant law to be problematic." Managers are also struggling to prepare the tiny homes in the village for winter temperatures. Read more.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Housing Supply Matters When Addressing Affordability

Economist Joe Cortright writes in his City Observatory blog that politicians and affordable housing advocates are starting to realize what economists have been arguing for years: increasing the supply of market rate housing is an essential part of addressing affordability issues. He also points out that a recent article in Shelterforce tackling the phenomenon of "filtering up" actually showed that building two market rate housing units has the same impact on mitigating displacement as building one affordable unit. In cities that spend vast sums of money to subsidize affordable units, this conclusion could motivate some city planners to do more to encourage market rate construction. Read more.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Vancouver, WA to See 1% Property Tax Increase in 2018

The Vancouver City Council voted on Monday to increase property taxes by 1% in 2018. The city council aims to add $459,500 to the general fund with the tax increase, which they point out is below the rate of inflation. Read more.

Tribune Report: Home shortage looms

The Home Builders Association of Metro Portland held its annual housing forecast last week. The Portland Tribune reports that "All of its main speakers agreed the current shortage of new homes for sale is driving up costs, including rents paid by households with the lowest incomes." Keynote speaker Tina Kotek said she plans even more work in 2018 regarding increasing affordable housing and housing choices in single-family neighborhoods. Another speaker, Oregon Economic Forum senior director Tim Duy, in a nod to residential towers resulting from growth boundaries, encouraged more high-rise condos to increase homeownership. "The only thing Oregonians hate more than sprawl is density," he said.  Read more.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Kate Brown Executive Orders: Green Energy Mandates on New Construction

Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed executive orders yesterday requiring builders to prepare for an increased use of green energy in the state.

  • New homes built after September 2020 and commercial buildings built after October 2022 must be equipped for solar panel installation. 
  • By October 2022, all new homes and commercial buildings must be wired for at least one electric vehicle charger.
  • By October 2023, all new homes will be required by the Building Codes Division to be "zero-energy ready."

Senator Alan Olsen (R-Canby) objected to the new executive orders, arguing that they will increase the cost of housing in the state. Read more.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Rob Justus: "Too often, government sees private developers as the enemy."

Home First Development Principal Rob Justus discusses his company's approach to building affordable housing in Portland.

Since 2009, Rob and Home First co-founder Dave Carboneau have built hundreds of apartments for low-income individuals -- many without government subsidies. He is an outspoken critic of local government's approach to creating more housing for low-income individuals and families.

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - November 6, 2017

This week: Rents in Portland have fallen slightly, mostly for high-end units close to downtown; Bend renters are finding more options as several new multifamily housing communities open; a new study of rent control in San Francisco by a trio of Sanford economists documents how the policy has failed. Those stories and more in this week's Multifamily Marketwatch.

Check out this episode!

Oregonian Guest Editorial: Portland, don't let it go to your head

In an op-ed piece published Sunday, Kevin Frazier, a former Portlander now living in the Bay Area, laments that without proper steps, Portland will turn into another San Francisco.  Among other things he urges, "Get private and public stakeholders to craft solutions that don't just temporarily lower rents for a select few, but stimulate the development of more affordable units." Read more. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Rent Growth Beginning to Slow in Portland as New Units Come Online

The Daily Journal of Commerce reports that rents in Portland were down for the second month in a row in October. Year over year, rents were down 0.4%, and they were down 0.8% from September. Most of the softness in the market is occurring at the high end - with more brand new luxury units hitting the market, buildings in the Pearl District and Central Eastside are offering concessions or lowering rents. As of October, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Portland was $1,140, and $1,350 for a two-bedroom. Buildings catering to middle- or low-income renters are still seeing low vacancy rates, but those rates are beginning to stabilize with an increase in overall supply. Joe Cortright noted in his City Observatory blog last week that more "for rent" signs have been popping up throughout the city recently. These trends will likely continue as new buildings open their doors to renters in the coming year. Read more.