The full Corvallis City Council got its first look Wednesday at recommendations developed over 14 months by a task force seeking solutions for housing challenges.
Councilors discussed five concepts put forth by the task force, which was chaired by Ward 5 Councilor Mike Beilstein and also included Councilors Bill Glassmire (Ward 7) and Frank Hann (Ward 8).
The five ideas are:
1) Implement inclusionary zoning and a construction excise tax
2) Use incentives to increase construction of accessory dwelling units
3) Issues waivers on systems development charges
4) Create a nonprofit entity that would help collect donations of property and/or money to be used for affordable housing
5) Add an affordable housing planner to city staff
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Councilors spent the bulk of the session discussing the inclusionary zoning and excise tax issues. Both concepts stem from recently passed state legislation. Inclusionary zoning makes it easier for communities to require developers to build some “affordable” units in a development and a possible 1 percent construction excise tax would help raise between $300 and $500 per year to assist city housing programs.
Kent Weiss, housing and neighborhood services manager, noted that the excise tax gives the city “an opportunity to raise revenue, and the sooner we get started on that the better.”
Beilstein agreed, although he noted that the excise tax would not provide enough revenue to make a major impact.
“If the city wants to have any effect on the housing situation in Corvallis we have to invest in it,” Beilstein said.
Weiss noted that the city might receive some blowback on the excise tax if it comes to a public hearing.
“A 1 percent tax is not a significant cost per project, but you will hear people say that it is going to make things more expensive,” Weiss said.
Councilors raised questions about both the accessory dwelling unit and systems development charges ideas but agreed to keep them on the table while continuing to discuss them.