SEASIDE — The city took two steps Monday night to address a countywide housing shortage.
City councilors unanimously approved participation in a housing study to assist in understanding the type, size, location and price of housing needed to meet current and future needs within Clatsop County.
Seaside pledged $10,000 toward the study, joining Gearhart, Cannon Beach, Astoria and Warrenton in contributing $50,000 toward the $100,000 study. The county will provide the remaining $50,000.
In addition, councilors voted to approve $32,000 for a study of system development charges — fees paid by developers to the city to connect essential services like roads and utilities.
In June, County Manager Cameron Moore suggested Seaside partner with other cities to learn more about housing issues. A similar six-month study by Tillamook County identified specific data about the area’s housing market and possible solutions.
The Clatsop County agreement recognizes the “lack of housing options is creating barriers to continued economic growth.”
“We think that the study will provide a great deal of information for the governing bodies to be able to adequately analyze the issues we face as far as workforce housing is concerned in Clatsop County,” City Manager Mark Winstanley said Monday. “It’s not an issue for individual cities, it is an issue for all of the areas of Clatsop County.”
He said a study that embraces the entire county “would be entirely appropriate.”
“We think this would be a very good way to take a look at this problem,” Winstanley said.
“I think $10,000 is a bargain for that,” Mayor Jay Barber said.
The city reviewed a proposal from the FCS Group to review the city’s water, wastewater and parks system development charges.
According to Winstanley, FCS Group last reviewed and updated the system development charges in 2008.
System development charges are sometimes cited by developers as barriers to affordable housing in the community.
A 2015 Clatsop County “housing huddle” identified high system development charges as an impediment to Seaside’s housing growth.
Before abandoning plans for 80-homes on a 15-acre parcel known as Blue Heron, property owner Max Ritchie said one of the reasons for the huge unmet need of workforce housing in Seaside is that the high cost of system development charges deters builders from taking on projects.
“With such a huge demand for housing, I think the city should enact a temporary waiver of system development fees to encourage builders to meet the housing need,” Ritchie said in 2016.
The new study will conduct an inventory of existing fixed assets, debt service schedules and ordinances.
The inventory will be followed by policy review and technical analysis. The analysis will calculate the “improvement fee” portion of each system development charge and a recommended allocation approach.
Councilors unanimously voted to move forward with the proposal.
With a budget slightly above $32,000, data collection and analysis will take about 90 days to complete. A final report will be delivered to the City Council next March.