Housing Policy Updates

By Alex Jonas
Housing Policy & Development Coordinator; RARE

If you’re keeping up with Chamber-related news, you may have heard of me. I am the Housing Policy & Development Coordinator for the Chamber, and came to Tillamook through the RARE Program. After spending a few months getting acclimated to the housing situation in Tillamook, I feel like we are finally hitting our strides in the race to mitigate the local housing crisis.

We recently submitted a grant application for $200,000, which would be utilized to remodel the Oregon Coast Dance Center’s second floor (historically known as the Jones-Knudson Building) in downtown. The grant in question is the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant, a competitive statewide grant awarded to Oregonian downtowns in need of economic development. If awarded, this grant would turn the unused space above the dance studio into four market-rate apartments. The current project timeline estimates that the renovation will begin this summer, with a targeted end-date around the beginning of 2021. While we won’t know until May 3rd if our grant application was accepted, the Chamber staff feels confident in the application’s strength, with a solid foundation of project quality, private investment, and Chamber reputation. This is exactly the type of project that the state is looking to fund, and our working relationship with Lisa Greiner, the building owner, has been strong.

In addition to that grant, I am in the process of drafting a System Development Charges (SDC) Deferral Policy – looking closely at similar policies in other areas of Oregon like Bend, Ashland and even Garibaldi, whose SDC Deferral Policy was instrumental in the construction of the Garibaldi Village Apartments. While I won’t go into the complexities of the potential policy here, SDCs can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars for multi-family housing developments, that are typically paid before a building is even occupied. By deferring these costs a few years (but not waiving them), this would alleviate the financial frontload for the developer without undercutting the needed long-term funds for the municipality. And, since the municipality may collect interest during the deferral period, it would theoretically equate to more long-term revenue than had the SDCs been charged upfront.

The other policy that the Chamber is looking at is for the deferral of permit fees, a policy that would run parallel to SDC deferrals to help mitigate the financial burden from the early stages of housing development. Permit fees don’t hold a candle to SDCs in terms of the cost, so it’s likely we will propose a much shorter deferment period. Stakeholders have identified that all efforts to shift up-front costs are beneficial due to the way many financing and investment systems are set up.

These deferment policies would eventually be presented to the City of Tillamook for consideration. In the meantime, Justin and I are currently working with a developer who is ready to build, and have been successful in opening doors to help provide potential building locations to them. This is the type of on-the-ground work that is going to change the housing landscape in the City of Tillamook, and we are excited to help catalyze this development.

I still have several months left here in Tillamook, and depending on how the rest of this year’s work goes, the Chamber will have the opportunity to apply for a second year through RARE to keep this momentum moving forward. If you have any questions regarding housing policy or know of properties available in the City of Tillamook, please stop by our office at 208 Main Avenue and we will be happy to address your inquiry.