When the City of Hillsboro recently passed Ordinance 6397, allowing corporations to host RVs (trailers/motor homes/tiny homes/vans) on-site during construction, I was interested. This new rule is based upon the fact that we do not have enough housing or short-term accommodations to host the thousands of construction staff working here. Our corporations have lobbied for the right to host their workers onsite. This makes total sense, and I am a big fan of this.
For decades the City of Hillsboro has kept RV Parks out of our city. No doubt the perception of a bunch of beat-up “Cousin-Eddy” motor homes hunkered down on a lot had a lot to do with those long-held beliefs. About 15 years ago, I had a real estate client that wanted to put up an upscale RV Park here in town but was denied because the City codes do not allow them. No matter how nice someone might want to make one, there was no way to approach that issue. There still isn’t. Maybe that was ok back then, but the reality is that we have several reasons we should embrace this sort of lifestyle and living option.
- The Washington Post has covered in the past that we have well over 1 Million Americans living in RVs full time. Many are upwardly mobile and spending lots of money. Hillsboro has become a major destination with professional baseball and soccer, college sports, fairs and regional conferences, and more. This is a smart, well-oiled, mobile crowd, and we want them to stay and spend in Hillsboro.
- Housing Hillsboro has become such a problem that people are packing into garages and sheds. Our housing market was just ranked as the 17th tightest in the Nation. With all the jobs we have captured, we have not built homes that anyone beyond the upper 20% can afford. We are becoming a city where most workers drive here in the mornings and leave at night. Motor Homes and RVs properly managed and housed can be a part of that solution.
- More Options – Portland allows RVs and Tiny Homes to be used as housing. This has the impact of raising revenue for those with property that can properly host mobile housing. It brings additional residents to areas near transit and shops and stores, again having the effect of increasing the community in many ways.
We do see the Hillsboro Elks Lodge providing RV Spaces to members, and they are usually full. In fact, the Elks provide thousands of spaces all over the State and Pacific NW. They are always clean, and the vehicles are typically on the higher end of the spectrum. The Washington County Fairgrounds had spaces, and there is a link to them here (14 spots) , but a complete review of the new website for the Westside Commons as it is now called turned up no apparent sites.
The best RV park on the west side of Portland is Roamers Rest which is built decades ago in a flood plain on HWY 99W in Tualatin/Sherwood. This place is beautiful, well run with tight rules, and it brings a large crowd of travelers and those needing a home all year long. Spaces run from $73 a night to $700 per month. Hillsboro could pull off something like this in a number of places around the City, and it is time to do so.
Here is one of the most compelling reasons we need to establish more places for RVs to stay. Friday last week at Fred Meyers by the Hillsboro Stadium, a trailer was parked in the outer lot and apparently discharged some not-so-nice by-products onto the lot. I am just going to let this photo speak for itself.
Hillsboro’s recent code update was a good one that makes sense. Workers need places to stay and so utilizing sites that are being built upon makes good sense. This should be and could be expanded upon to provide housing for our travelers and our residential population. The creation of the factories, fabs, and facilities in our town are creating jobs which attract people and also make housing expensive. So it is time that everyone has the benefit of this sort of lifestyle, not just construction workers.
Equity, fairness, and creativity produce options and a better place to live. Let’s keep up the good work!