Message from the Mayor
Happy autumn all. We’ve made it past the summer rush, back to school, and the harvest. I hope this finds you well.
In a recent interview on KOIN (“Mayor Mondays,” viewable on the web) I was asked to discuss three topics, and I chose housing prices, urban renewal, and annexation. The first is a top priority. Lack of affordable housing can be a barrier to quality of life, economic development, and diversity. While City Council has limited tools to address housing prices, I feel quite proud of our four-pronged approach: Collaborating with Mid-Columbia Community Action Council to support the seasonal warming shelter, working closely with the Housing Authority to build the project at 780 Rand Rd., loosening the zoning requirements to allow multi-family housing in more of our neighborhoods, and restricting short-term rentals in our residential zones.
The second topic, urban renewal, is a powerful tool that has been especially effective here in Hood River. We have used it to transform the Waterfront, preserve and update the infrastructure downtown, and we are embarking on using it to update the Heights streetscape. Finally, we have just now formed a fourth district, the Westside Urban Renewal District, to enable us to fund more parks, more affordable housing, and quality transportation infrastructure as this large piece of our urban growth boundary develops.
And finally, annexation. This is a complicated strategic question with many moving parts. Going forward, we are working hard to be good stewards of our residents’ tax dollars while facilitating development as it emerges. We will deep dive into an annexation study session this winter; I look forward to the discussions with Council and staff.
Mayor Paul Blackburn
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