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Open letter about affordable housing sans parking in North Bethany

Posted by Peter W on July 18, 2007

I sent this on Tuesday, July 12 to the North Bethany study group:

This is about affordable housing for Sam Galbreath and the Housing Focus Group.

Say I’m a student at PCC, or a teacher at one of the schools in North Bethany. I don’t make a lot of money, but one way I save money is by biking or taking public transit. I’d like to live in North Bethany – either rent a place or buy a small condo. I don’t have a car, so will I have the option to save money by *not* paying for a parking space or having a garage attached?

I’ve been reading that housing with parking can be much more expensive – like tens of thousands of dollars more expensive. I’ve also read that if the cost of parking is unbundled from the cost of housing – so people buying houses can opt out of buying parking – then suddenly 20% more people can afford mortgages.

In a development which is promoting alternative transit, I believe this could work. It has been done successfully in other cities, including San Francisco, New York, and Portland. It may not be an obvious fit for North Bethany due to its suburban nature, but I definitely think there’d be a market for this among people looking for affordable housing.

Please let me know if this will be an option for North Bethany.

Thanks.

p.s. references:
http://www.livablecity.org/resources/ExSum_NeighborhoodGroups.doc
http://livablecity.org/resources/ExSum_Developers_Lenders.doc
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/realestate/12nati.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5070&en=cb543148a87eab59&ex=1184904000
http://www.spur.org/documents/981101_report_01.shtm

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Cookie cutter development coming to North Bethany?

Posted by Peter W on July 18, 2007

When I heard that North Bethany only has a handfull of developers for the 800+ acre site, I was worried that it would lead to ugly cookie cutter suburbia, and from the planning team’s developer interviews (“Development Plans, p.3) it looks like that is the case:

The developers acquiring land in the north Bethany project site are predominantly production builders, meaning they want to buy, build, sell, and conclude their investment as quickly as possible. This influences the type of housing product that they sell.

The developers relayed that their plan is to design and build product similar to what exists in the adjacent neighborhoods, build during the 1990s: single family residential (SFR), on small lots of 3,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet. townhomes and condominiums are also a product-type option, but on a smaller scale. It was noted that some of the developers like to build two products for diversity and thus reach a larger share of the market; it also enables projects to hit the density zoning requirements in places. The large developers (and primary landholders) are production builders. They have a formula that works and they stick to it. Thus, the product type planned for the area will currently have little diversity. A few developers are open to more product diversity, but they would likely partner or sell those parcels to a company that has experience doing something else, such as multifamily or mixed-use development.

It looks like the only hope for a real “community of distinction” is that if the plan calls for the kind of greater density and mixed use that these developers (like the giant West Hills Development aka “Arbor Homes”, Matrix Development aka “Legend Homes”) can’t do themselves, then they may sell it to someone with more experience and better architects / planners.

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Open letter about schools in North Bethany

Posted by Peter W on July 18, 2007

This was sent to the North Bethany planning team.

Hello,

I am curious if the North Bethany plan will help ensure that more people bike and walk to schools in the area? In terms of the plan, it’s very important that schools be well integrated into neighborhoods and that there are very low maximum parking limits, and as much as possible of the parking should be integrated with the neighborhood as on-street parking.

Besides helping kids get healthy, walking or biking will help reduce traffic a great deal; it has been estimated that up to 25% (!) of morning and afternoon traffic is due to parents dropping off or picking up their kids.

Here is another pretty sad statistic:

“In 2001, 16 percent of students between the ages of 5 and 15 walked or bicycled to or from school.

In 1969, 42 percent of students walked or bicycled to school.”

It only takes 5-10 minutes for kids to walk a quarter mile or bike one mile. The entire N. Bethany site is only a bit more than a mile wide, and Beaverton School District is planning 3 elementary schools and possibly a high school.

Please let me know what the status of this is. Thanks.

Just to clarify – the reason for putting parking on the street instead of a parking lot is that:

  1. Neighborhood streets usually have enough room for car parking anyway, so you might as well use it
  2. Parking lots do a good job of separating the school from the neighborhood it is in
  3. Parallel parking on streets around a school is slightly less convenient than a parking lot, and reduces the temptation to drive while still providing for people who have to drive.

I didn’t mention it in the letter, but I got the quotes and numbers from a talking points document from the International Walk to School in the USA group.

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