Editors Note: I am sharing this letter with our readers in a public forum as my testimony scheduled for yesterday in Salem regarding SB 1537, the Governor’s Housing package, was somehow not allowed due to “Technical Difficulties. ” So I am providing it here today and have emailed it to the Governor’s Staff. I was hoping you could share this: think about your housing needs and those of the people around you, and weigh in as to how you feel about the current state of affairs here in Hillsboro. Today – Saturday, 2-10-24 is the last chance to send in testimony – you can do so right here- https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2024R1/Testimony/SHDEV
To: Governor Tina Kotek and Staff
Senate Committee on Housing and Development; Senator Kayse Jama, Senator Dick Anderson, Senator Tim Knopp, Senator Deb Patterson, Senator Sollman
From: Dirk Knudsen, Hillsboro, Oregon
RE: Proposed Senate Bill 1537 – Governor Kotek’s Housing Package
Hello, Governor Kotek and Senators;
I am writing today (2-9-2024) because I had signed up to testify online at the 2-8-2024 Hearing for SB 1537, I got confirmation that I was registered on 2-5-24 and would be sent instructions on how to sign in, but nothing was sent. As a result, I was excluded from the hearing and not allowed to present my testimony. Here it is.
My name is Dirk Knudsen, and I have lived in Hillsboro, Oregon, for five decades. For 43 years, I have been in real estate, housing, and land use consulting, providing housing for all people. I have worked on community and state-wide land use issues for that entire time, and I am currently an active member of the Build Small Coalition here in Oregon. My testimony is based on real-world experiences and thousands of successful housing efforts.
The Governor’s Housing package leaves much to be desired. But I am generally in support of it. It will provide many benefits to those of us in the housing industry and even more to those in need who can have a home- for many, their first home. The goals are so important. So I am with you all. Having said that, please reconsider the following:
- Senate Bill 2001 (Middle Housing) was a massive step toward providing meaningful housing inside our existing Urban Growth Boundaries. The promise of those additional units has been realized in many Oregon cities, helping revitalize neighborhoods and adding housing units in existing transit, shopping, parks, and school areas. However, the State of Oregon did not provide any teeth or serious monitoring on how cities implement Middle Housing. As a result, cities with a conservative approach, like Hillsboro (Oregon), one of the most housing-challenged in the State, have little to no units of middle housing built since passage of the bill.
- Hillsboro is in the midst of adding the biggest housing project in Oregon history to its Urban Growth Boundaries. South Hillsboro will have 8,000 units when completed and upwards of 30,000 people. These homes are not affordable and average in the $700,000 range per unit. These are certainly not homes that the majority of our current citizens can buy.
- Hillsboro is also the planned location of almost all future Tech and Semiconductor Jobs as per Senate Bill 4 (The CHIPS ACT), with the potential for over 1,700 acres to be added to the UGB for industry in our town. Governor Kotek, you dictated that.
- Hillsboro is walking into the worst housing crisis in the History of Oregon if these jobs come to our town and the City does not improve upon its housing policies.
- The City of Hillsboro just approved its 2024 Housing Needs analysis and is fighting with the Department of Land Use Conservation and Development and METRO over the growth rate to project future housing. The push to grow our Urban Growth Boundary is on, and developers and land owners are all lined up to hit the UGB expansion jackpot, where land will be brought into the growth boundary and sold at record prices, assuring more housing out of reach of the populace.
- HILLSBORO HAS INEQUITABLE POLICIES ON PERMITS COSTS- THIS POINT YOU MUST READ: Despite clear language and analysis from their consultant Eco-NW Consulting, Hillsboro will not adjust permit fees for Middle Housing or even for regular housing.
- Small homes are charged the same SDCs as massive homes.
- Important Middle Housing Options like Cottages have permitting costs as high as $100 per square foot!!!
- Despite being presented with written documents, oral testimony, and case studies, the City Of Hillsboro City Council. City Manager and Planning Staff refuse to take any action on this matter.
- As a result, the City of Hillsboro, one of the biggest in the State and fastest growing, has NO middle Housing units completed. That is proof of the level of this problem.
We have land in Hillsboro, and we want to use middle housing to place four cottages. One was for my Mother. Her cottage would have been 400 square feet facing a common garden like this one. The others were going to be for other Seniors and priced at a low rent to help them. This was her dream and would have changed the quality of her life and the lives of others.
I went to the City of Hillsboro building department, where a set of fee and permit estimates were given to build these units. A staggering permitting cost of $49,500 was estimated per unit, totaling $ 123 per square foot! Much of that was Systems Development Charges!
Compare and Contrast:
This is a home that a client of mine built near the cottage site we have. 1 Block to the MAX light rail and a 5-minute walk to INTEL Ronler Acres. This home is:
- 9 Bedrooms and 10 bathrooms
- It has two full kitchens and multiple living areas
- Is 4,200 SF apx.
- How much were the building permits and SDCs? $50,000 – or $12 per square foot!
- It is an important home as it does provide living for up to 9 people.
Costs are similar, but Impacts are vastly different- The big home has 10 or 11 Toilets on the same type of sewer line with the same fees that my Mom’s cottage would have had just one using. The big house generates dozens of daily trips on our roads- Mom would have generated none. 9 People can use parks, schools, and city services in the big home. Mom, just one. The impacts of a huge house dwarf the impacts of a small cottage, and as a result, the upfront SDC fees must be prorated or scaled on total square footage or occupancy.
Affordable Tiny Cottage – $112 PSF in Fees VS Huge Luxury Home – $12 PSF in Fees
Governor and Senators, how can you allow this? How can you make a housing policy with hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ money and allow this to continue in any City in Oregon? To do so would equate to a failed policy, expanded UGBs over all else, no important infill and middle housing, and a fleecing of the taxpayer’s money.
Therefore, please add policies and rules that exclude cities with punitive housing policies like those I have stated above from Participating in the robust benefits and the money you are providing through Senate Bill 1537. PLEASE EXCLUDE MY HOMETOWN OF HILLSBORO from participating in SB 1537 until they eliminate these horrible housing policies that punish the marginalized, those less fortunate, and those of us trying to help their Mothers.
Despite my appearance at City Council 3 times to state this matter and ask for changes, multiple emails, and exchanges with the Planning Commission and Planning Staff, there was no action or movement. My mother will never get her dream cottage- she passed away last Fall.
Please LISTEN to my testimony and consider your Moms and all the people of our community and others where antiquated codes and policies are punishing them and treating them as something less than those who are more fortunate. WE MUST ELIMINATE INEQUITY WHEREVER WE FIND IT. You have been made aware of it in my town, and now, should you fail to act, you are promoting it and supporting it. That is not who you are and not who we are as a State!
I thank you for your time and ask for your support!
Very truly yours,
Dirk T Knudsen