Council: Renters yes, apartment tower no
The City Council made two unanimous housing-related decisions on Wednesday that some might argue contradicted each other.
In one, the council expanded and made permanent a renter protection policy adopted in February 2016 intended to address the affordable housing crisis.
In the other, it tentatively turned down a proposal to build hundreds of more apartments in the Pearl District. Although they would have been in a high-end 17-story tower, economists argue that increasing the total supply of housing will help bring costs down.
The renter protection policy requires landlords to pay relocation costs ranging from $2,900 to $4,500 to tenants subject to no-cost evictions or who choose to move if their rents are raised more than 10 percent a year. The council revoked an exemption for landlords who own just one rental unit, except in limited circumstances. The revised policy is effective immediately.
Mayor Ted Wheeler and other council members said they rejected the proposed design for the Fremont Place Apartments because it infringes too much on the Willamette Greenway that is intended to run along the west side of the Willamette River throughout the city. At some points, the width is much narrower than what the council approved in the South Waterfront neighborhood.
The neighborhood association had appealed the approval of the project. Some nearby neighbors testified it would block their views of the Fremont Bridge. The council did not seem particularly moved by that arguement. A final vote on the project will take place next week.