By Justin Aufdermauer
Over the last nine months the Chamber has been fortunate to play a role in helping tackle the housing crisis within the City of Tillamook. We applied for and were accepted into the RARE program (a division of AmeriCorps) and with that came our newest staff member, Alexander Jonas.
Alex came to us as a recent graduate from Florida State where he studied political science and international affairs with a focus on economics. He was relocated to Tillamook to serve as our Housing Policy & Development Coordinator.
In this role, having Alex in this role at the Chamber has allowed us to make a housing impact greater than we could ever imagine. When we set out with this program our goal was to help make various policy changes to assist developers, but we have done so much more and Alex will have a mark on Tillamook for many years to come.
Alex was able to make great strides to help the City improve their development process. He collaborated closely with the city to put together what is essentially a System Development Charges (SDC) financing plan, which they adopted earlier this summer. This plan allows developers to finance their SDCs instead of paying them all up front. SDCs can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars for multi-family housing developments and are typically paid in full before a building is even occupied. By deferring these costs a few years (but not waving them), this would alleviate the financial frontload for the developer without undercutting the needed long-term funds for the City. And, since the City may collect interest during the deferral period, it would theoretically equate to more long-term revenue than had the SDCs been charged upfront.
Garibaldi has had success with a similar model, as well as other Oregon cities that Alex was able to pull data from in helping draft the policy for the City of Tillamook.
To put his stake in the ground, Alex drafted a $200,000 Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant to build four market-rate apartments above Lisa Griener’s Oregon Coast Dance Studio. This is a competitive statewide grant awarded to downtown areas in Oregon in need of economic development, and Lisa’s project was awarded the grant. The current project timeline estimates that the renovation will begin next Summer, with a targeted end date around the beginning of 2021.
As if that wasn’t enough – having this housing program in the Chamber and its connection to the Tillamook County Board of REALTORS – we were asked to assist in finding available property for a Oregon developer looking to build 50-100 market-rate units within the City. Through grinding to find property and with the City’s help with a rezone – always hate to count my blessings too early – but as of a phone call received just last week it looks like Tillamook should be getting another 73 unit apartment complex within the next year.
Needless to say, Alex’s time has been well spent here at the Chamber. What you can be sure of is that because of the willingness of the Chamber Board of Directors to venture into our economic crisis of housing – the funding put forward by the Tillamook County Board of REALTORS, Pacific Seafood and other generous donors – Coupled with Alex’s hard work – Tillamook will have a much different housing landscape in a very short amount of time. Alex is about to transition from a Seminole to a Duck as he has decided to stay in Oregon to pursue his Masters Degree at the University of Oregon – that’s a big deal that college football fans everywhere will understand. Be sure to stop in to the Chamber HQ and wish him well before he goes.