City Council: Parking resolution passes, new firefighter approved

At its fifth meeting on the topic, Hood River City Council on Monday adopted a resolution changing fees developers must pay for impacts of on-street parking.

The resolution sets a reduced in-lieu parking fee of $2,000 for new residential development that provides at least two-thirds (67 percent) of required parking spaces.

It juggles the demand for parking in congested downtown and council’s goal of encouraging residential development in the city’s commercial cores, according to the resolution text.

Council’s legislative action stemmed from a proposal this summer by Key Development to build a 70-unit housing development at Fourth and State streets, the Paris Fair Building property.

Key Development asked the city to significantly cut down the in-lieu parking fee for residential projects. Via the former fee, developers must pay $20,620 for each unmet space.

After discussion, council voted 4-3 on Nov. 13 to pass its resolution amending the municipal code. It applies to residential projects in commercial zones in downtown, waterfront and the Heights districts.

Via the ruleset, developers must either provide required parking or pay $20,620 per space for the first two-thirds worth of parking, and the lowered per-space fee for the final third.

“Whereas the City Council desires to facilitate residential development in its commercial districts and to not exacerbate parking shortages in these areas,” it states.

Parking emerged as one of council’s top concerns at a Saturday goal setting session, and the matter isn’t yet settled.

Steve Wheeler, city manager, said in an email, council will take a more comprehensive approach to the issue, and possibly revisit in-lieu fees.

“Council contemplates a further review of just how the parking requirements are calculated and then perhaps resetting the in-lieu fee, but they understand this work is well after the changes that were made Monday evening,” Wheeler said.

New firefighter

Hood River is expected to get a new firefighter, and the city is considering hiring a new police officer at a later time, depending on revenue from marijuana tax receipts.

Staff recommended adding a new firefighter in January, based on revenue targets that were met during the first quarter of fiscal year 2017-2018.

Will Norris, city finance director and assistant manager, gave council an update on revenue and what it will mean for hiring decisions.

The Hood River Fire Department is trending over budget due to the Eagle Creek fire, Norris said, and the city is preparing reimbursement requests to federal agencies involved.

Norris noted in a report that marijuana revenue may be able to support the costs of an additional police officer, but that remains uncertain. “Forecasts still rely on a small amount of data,” his written report said.

At Monday’s meeting, Norris noted much of the uncertainty comes from the state’s program dispersing tax receipts — taxes from retail marijuana are collected locally and at the state level.

Norris recommended waiting for another fiscal quarter before deciding whether to add an additional full-time officer.

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