Saturday, July 8, 2017
Plan for future
To the group opposed to the Westside Concept Plan: growth isn’t what’s going to ruin this town. What will ruin this town is the inability of young people and families of even moderate incomes to afford to live here.
Looking at this plan from a developer’s standpoint, while having the best intentions, the city has pretty much shut down all building in the affected area during a two-year period, forcing us to put 40 small homes on hold. The current surge in home prices, up a $100,000, is to a large degree, a result of the lack of available land to build on while the “study” was taking place.
However, contrary to the notion that the Westside Concept Plan was rushed through, city planning has been working non-stop on this for over two years. Public involvement has been encouraged. The plan takes the long view of how all this land will connect with the rest of town for the next 20 years. The land is all privately owned and its owners have the right to develop. This land has been zoned residential since the 1970s. The city is trying to give builders and landowners a blueprint from which to sensibly plan for the future.
There is a long existing Planned Unit Development, or P.U.D., ordinance which provides a way to achieve the same amount of housing as the proposed zone changes in the Westside Plan. So, any new zoning won’t affect potential density, it just provides a better way to achieve that density.
Of the hundreds of houses we’ve built in Hood River since 1992, at least 95 percent have been “entry level” homes bought by teachers, nurses, waitresses, public employees, people who make this town work. If these folks are priced out of housing, it will be unfortunate for us all.
There are currently 40 teachers on our list trying to buy one of 15 homes in a soon-to-be neighborhood on Belmont. We’d be glad to provide that list to anyone objecting to new development. You can be the one to tell these people they shouldn’t be able to own a home in Hood River.
More or less
In my opinion, the Hood River News runs letters of questionable character that are composed by members of a Democratic organized group and made public as a means of propaganda for the sole purpose of misrepresenting the actions and accomplishments of both President Trump and Oregon’s Second District member of Congress Greg Walden, a 1974 HRVHS alumni.
In response to these letters, I submitted a June 17 letter titled “More Little,” which caught the eye of Hood River reader Cathy Higgins, replying with disagreements in a letter titled “Not clever.”
Then the following week, I receive an email from Congressman Greg Walden complimenting my “More Little” letter:
“Thank you for your letter in the Hood River News about smaller government. I appreciate you mentioning the Paris Climate Agreement, which would have cost the United States an estimated $3 trillion and an eventual loss of 6.5 million jobs. The United States leads the world in energy innovation, driven by a robust and competitive free market that is producing more affordable, reliable, and efficient energy than ever before. These innovations and increased domestic energy production are among the reasons our CO2 emissions are in steady decline and lower today than they were in 1994.”
Support single payer
Thank you for opinion piece “Right thing to do” in the July 1 Hood River News; it needs to be said. As a consultant physician and former small business owner, I agree completely agree with you. However, when talking to politicians, the language of “doing the right thing” falls on deaf ears because the right thing for any politician is to do what the base electorate wants to stay in office.
Politicians do not lead, they follow. It reminds me of an old saying, “If you are getting run out of town, get in front of the mob and pretend you’re leading a parade.” The more people that contact Rep. Walden, the better, because he needs to know that the tide of his constituent base is changing as they begin to realize what they are losing. It needs to be in his political best interest to support a single payer system before he will make any changes to his stance on healthcare.
It seems funny that we have not already transitioned to a single payer system in our country. It is the most financially responsible and business promoting option. As mentioned above, I was a small business owner and am a consulting physician. Prior to the ACA, I could not get healthcare coverage at any cost. With the ACA, I could buy insurance, but even with the protections it accounts for a third of my business expenses.
At the end of this year, my insurance provider will no longer provide coverage in Hood River County and the ones left are all scheduled to increase their rates by another 20 percent or more. I sold the business and am re-thinking consulting work because I cannot afford annual double-digit rate increases and changing provider coverage.
A single payer healthcare system is not only the ethically right thing to do for people, it is also the smartest financial move for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and corporations alike. Corporate tax cut, small business promoting — one would think that the Republican Party would take up the single payer banner and run with it.
Glen Patrizio, M.D.
Rezone wrong tool
Changing the zoning to increase density will not create affordable housing for fulltime Hood River residents. Affordable housing is defined as “housing which is deemed affordable to those with a median household income.” Hood River median household income is $49,350. Calculators indicate the target home price for a household with an annual income of $49,350 is about $122,000. On May Street, where we already have the type of density the Westside Area Concept Plan (WACP) recommends, there is a 1,560-square-foot townhouse for sale for $379,900.
This home has a target price for a household with income around $112,000.
The ONLY guarantee the WACP offers is increased density through zoning changes. There is no guarantee of affordable homes. WACP doesn’t offer any solid answers to how the increased infrastructure that accompany such changes would be funded. The increased zoning removes the burden of paying for roads, sewer, sidewalks, etc., from the developer and places it on the city and taxpayer without anything more than mere suggestions on how to fund the costs of new schools, roads, parks, public safety, open spaces, etc., which is underfunded already. The increased housing inventory MAY cause a temporary reduction in average home price. That will likely self-correct when new inventory is gobbled up by second home owners from Portland and beyond. In the end, we will have done nothing to help solve the “affordable” housing shortage.
Zoning changes to increase density is entirely the wrong tool to use for solving this problem. Let’s work with the existing, approved comprehensive growth plan that has shown increased density and zoning changes are unnecessary to accommodate expected growth, and reconsider how to help resolve the affordable housing issue. I understand there is a surplus of existing housing, land, and empty classrooms in surrounding areas. Let’s consider refocusing efforts toward improving infrastructure, including our transportation system, to provide efficient, affordable ways to move between Hood River and Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Parkdale, Mosier and Odell. This is just one sensible and responsible method to maintaining the character of our community while doing the right thing.