BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors support waiving some System Development charges associated with new affordable housing projects. SDCs pay for city infrastructure like roads and sewers that are necessary with new construction.
During Wednesday night’s public hearing, Councilors asked how many projects could be exempt from paying the fees under the ordinance. Jim Long, Bend’s Affordable Housing Manager, says at most, the city sees 100 new units in a year. "We had a couple years that we were right about in there; this year we’ll probably be around 70. That’s probably more a typical year. That doesn’t mean that’s not how many affordable units – because there’s also acquisition, you know. And, there are no SDCs involved in acquisition projects. And, we also fund rehab projects to keep units in the system."
Councilor Justin Livingston proposed a five-year sunset for the exemption, "Just a double-check, to make sure it’s doing what it’s intended to do and it’s not having too much of an impact in the SDC funds, I think another Council should also take a look and make sure it still fits in line with what’s going on at that time." Councilor Bill Moseley supported the exemption, with a five-year limit. "You’re necessarily shifting those costs off on to other users. And the costs are being shifted from people that are slightly below a certain threshold of income, to people that are generally slightly above that threshold of income; so I would normally be quite opposed to that redistribution. But, at the same time, we also get a number of federal dollars to support those programs and a number of state dollars to bring it in. It’s a difficult thing and I’m closely divided, but the amendment will allow me to support it for the temporary period." The amendment passed 5-1, with Nathan Boddie the only one in opposition.
The first reading of the ordinance passed unanimously, Wednesday. Councilors will consider final approval in November. City Manager Eric King says discussions with the Parks Board will take place soon
, in an effort to find more ways to provide financial incentives for affordable housing developers.