The Bend Park & Recreation Board could vote Tuesday on a resolution to lower district fees on affordable housing.
The trick for the board is to find a solution that enables the district to keep Bend parks great and help more affordable housing to be built. One thing is for sure: The proposed resolution won’t please everyone.
It’s certainly better than doing nothing.
The board approved a resolution in 2019 that waived park SDCs for up to 400 units of affordable housing. That program was set to sunset at the end of 2022, but projects are already bumping up against the cap. As of December, some 380 waivers had already been used. So the city, affordable housing advocates and others asked the district to do more. Some want the district to just get rid of the cap.
The district already has programs to help low-income residents. For instance, scholarships enable children to participate in district programs. And any reduction in fees comes at a significant cost for the district. It has already sacrificed more than $2 million because of the existing waiver. It could have built another neighborhood park for that. Expanding the reduction in waivers means some projects might not happen or will be delayed. It’s not clear what might be sacrificed. Three projects that have at least been discussed — include future plans for the Pine Nursery, Discovery Park and the Big Sky Bike Park.
The resolution the board will consider Tuesday would provide another 75 additional waiver per calendar year over the next two years.
The additional cost to the district would be up to $1.2 million, bringing the total expected waiver reduction cost to up to $3.5 million for the district.
The resolution would also put additional requirements on the additional waivers. Smaller projects with affordable housing of up to 50 units would get a 100% waiver. Projects larger than that would get a waiver of 50% for the total units requested. It is not spelled out in the staff report why larger affordable housing projects don’t get the same benefit. Why should a project that provides more affordable housing effectively get punished?
Another condition is that the park district would like the city to establish a work group to look at ways to provide additional incentives to build more affordable housing without the need for such waivers.
The board and district staff are looking for a solution, not looking to avoid the issue.
The district has already received some feedback from members of the community and builders of affordable housing. If you would like to comment, you can email the board members at firstname.lastname@example.org.