Morrison Park: Yes to re-zone, but dig in first

Monday night, Morrison Park re-zone should get city council okay.

The need to start on-the-ground solutions to the affordable housing crisis in the Gorge makes clear the need to approve the city’s request.

Approval is advised, but with two short caveats: consider the park-housing dual use option proposed by citizens, and put a 30-day hold on any rezone to give city and state officials one more chance for a different plan — with the likely option of the ODOT Cascade Avenue yard being transformed into housing instead of Morrison Park. It is not too late to figure this out.

Affordable housing is not merely a local problem; it is one the state has the resources to help fix. The Regional Solutions Advisory Committee and state officials have been focusing on the problem for years and a last ditch, no pun intended, effort is called for before the city starts digging at 20th and Wasco.

State, city and regional housing officials roll their eyes when asked about the ongoing discussions about how to solve the solution — in particular, what other properties might be identified instead of Morrison Park.

This is a complicated matter, but all parties have shown an interest, including Gov. Kate Brown making a visit in April to the ODOT yard. What it comes down to is this: the parties have identified a more suitable site for affordable housing, but have not yet figured out where ODOT would move. It is time for a virtual dirtying of hands. The freeway-close options are known, now it is time for the city, governor’s office and others to dig in and make a decision. They should, but if they cannot in 30 days, then the Morrison Park rezone can take effect.

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