Oct 4, 2006

Troutdale's Density Dilemma

At last night's city council work session, we discussed Troutdale's residential density and housing capacity. It was a statistics-filled but ultimately depressing meeting.

Our residents have been complaining loudly about new high density residential construction. Unfortunately, at the city level there isn't much we can do about it.

According to Oregon Administrative Rules, Troutdale must provide "the opportunity for at least 50 percent of new residential units to be attached single family housing or multiple family housing or justify an alternative percentage based on changing circumstances." OAR 660-007-0030

In addition to the 50% attached single family housing (rowhouses) or multiple family housing (apartments) requirement, Troutdale "must provide for an overall average density of eight or more dwelling units per net buildable acre." OAR 660-007-0035

This works out to an average of about 5300 square feet per lot.

At last night's work session, we agreed that the problem we're dealing with is density in general, and not with the amount or specific location of higher density zoning. So how do we solve this problem of density in general? Do we amend portions of the Troutdale Development Code? Or do we amend the zoning map and comprehensive plan to decrease the amount of higher density zoned land? How can we solve our density problem and still meet state mandated density requirements?

We came up with few answers, more questions, and much resentment toward Oregon's current land use system.

As of June 30, 2006, here's our existing housing stock by type:

Single-family detached (including manufactured home on platted lots): 66.2%
Multi-family (4 or more units on the same lot): 20.0%
Manufactured home in MH parks and RV parks: 6.7%
Duplexes and triplexes on single lot: 5.3%
Platted Rowhouses: 1.6%
Mixed use (Residential with commercial): 0.2%

Here's our current future housing mix opportunity for residential zones based on Troutdale's buildable land inventory:

Detached Single Family Dwellings 47.1%
Attached and Multi-Family Dwellings 52.9%

It's not a pretty picture. But if there's anything I can lawfully do as a city councilor to decrease Troutdale's density for new construction, I'm going to do it.

3 comments:

Tim said...

Everybody thinks private property rights are more important than David Bragdon does. Of course, when you've had everything handed to you by daddy your whole life you couldn't possibly understand how people who actually have to WORK for their status and posessions feel.

Sam said...

How is Troutdale's compliance to the density standard measured? What are the repercussions of violating the requirements?

The average is 5,300 sq ft per dwelling. But that means you could have a dwelling with a 10,000 sq ft lot if you have 3 others averaging 3,733 sq ft. Multi-story apartments have very high density per acre, so one complex would allow for many larger-lot detached single-family homes.

Does the development have to be concurrent, or can you develop larger lot properties now and save the higher-density developments for the future? Rezone some difficult-to-develop parcels (e.g. Tyson's Place parcel) to require ultra-high density, then develop the rest as decently-sized detached housing parcels. Once those are done, exercise eminent domain to convert the as-yet-undeveloped high-density parcels into additional parks "for the good of all residents".

Anonymous said...

It's hardly just Bragdon and Burkholder and their cronies - the state "planners" are all about the same sort of BS.

It's all about "density" as far as they're concerned - which actually seems fitting, because they're among the densest folks I've ever encountered.

In Oregon, only 4% of land is in any way developed. They want to keep it that way.

Troutdale used to be a really nice place to live - I lived there, along the east bank of the Sandy, some 30 years ago. It was comfortable.

Metro would like to see eight to twelve-story condo towers there, now. And I hardly recognize the place anymore, as it is.