Portland Commissioner Saltzman Proposes New 1% Construction Excise Tax

5120304358_72af165e30Today Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman, whose bureau assignments include the Portland Housing Bureau and the Bureau of Development Services, proposed a new excise tax on residential and commercial development equal to one percent of the total permit valuation, revenue from which would be dedicated to build and preserve affordable housing.

The tax is estimated to raise approximately $8 million per year—approximately $5.4 million per year from construction excise taxes on residential projects and approximately $2.6 million per year from taxes on commercial projects.  Continue Reading

Taxes, Fees on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) Eased in Portland

tiny houseAt a time when Portland grapples with a shortage in housing, two new regulatory changes may bring many more accessory dwelling units (ADUs)—small apartment units like basements and small backyard houses added to single-family homes—to the city, thereby helping to increase the housing stock.

According to the Portland Tribune, an “unusually high property tax” leveled by Multnomah County on homeowners who add ADUs to their homes has been lifted after new regulatory action by the State: Continue Reading

Landlords Beware: HUD Warns Against Discriminating Based on Criminal Background

criminal-1054067_640Last month, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issued guidance that all residential landlords, property managers, and brokers should be aware of: While checking a potential renter’s criminal background is not off limits when reviewing the person’s housing application, doing so in a way that has an adverse effect on a protected class of citizens or as a pretext for discrimination could subject the housing provider to liability.

The Fair Housing Act does not protect those with criminal backgrounds, and as many as 100 million U.S. adults have a criminal record. Arrest, conviction, and incarceration rates are disproportionately higher among African Americans and Hispanics, however, so “if, without justification, [the burden of background checks] falls more often on renters or other housing market participants of one race or national origin over another,” or if a housing provider uses an applicant’s criminal background as a pretext for intentional discrimination, the housing provider may face liability under the Act. Continue Reading

BiOp on the Oregon National Flood Insurance Program: A Case for Levee Accreditation


If there was ever a case to be made for levee accreditation in Oregon, it would be the biological opinion (“BiOp”) that the National Marine Fisheries Services (“NMFS”) issued in April 2016.

The BiOp seeks to protect and conserve certain salmon and steelhead species, and their critical habitats, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act and found in Oregon floodplains located in communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (the “NFIP”) administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”). Continue Reading

Employment Law Issues for the Development Industry

employment-contractRecently, several of my colleagues have written articles on employment law issues, ranging from best hiring practices to Oregon’s new minimum-wage laws. Since employment issues are prevalent in all industries, including development, it dawned on me that I should capture and consolidate a few of these resources from time to time and share them on this blog. Below are three recent articles that you might find useful to your business. Continue Reading

Portland’s Booming Residential Market Remains Hot

portland-841428_960_720Zillow calls Portland the nation’s fourth “hottest” apartment market based upon a combination of new apartments as a percentage of total rentals (just 1.7 percent), the percentage of new apartments rented within three months (72 percent), and apartment rent appreciation over the preceding year (8.6 percent).

Not to be outdone, Axiometrics ranks Portland as the second strongest market for apartment rent growth, citing 10.1 percent annual effective rent growth for the year ending March 2016, an occupancy rate of 95.7 percent, and 9.5 percent revenue growth.

Continue Reading

Navigating Oregon Property Tax Exemptions for Charities and Landlords–Deadline April 1

taxes-1015399_960_720It’s tax season again. Every April, most Americans begrudgingly turn their attention to their tax obligations. April’s tax significance isn’t limited to one’s federal income tax return, however, April 1 marks the deadline for filing an application for exemption from Oregon property tax.

The state of Oregon imposes a property tax on all real and personal property located in the state. Yet the state also grants an exemption from property tax to certain organizations, including charities. Of course, to qualify for the exemption, a charity must satisfy certain requirements. Specifically, the organization must be a “charitable institution” under Oregon law. Continue Reading

Plan Now So That Excess Water Isn’t Trouble Later

drops-of-water-578897_960_720Water is a frequent topic of conversation these days, with valid concern over the growing scarcity of this resource. In the past few years, however, concerns about too much water have also arisen. From Hurricane Katrina to Superstorm Sandy to our own frightful storm during Halloween last year, unprecedented flooding is emerging as another water-related issue that must be addressed, as our weather patterns become even more unpredictable in the years to come. Continue Reading

Creative Way to Deal With Easement Dispute Fails

Boat_Dock_The_PoconosIn the recent Washington Court of Appeals case of Buchheit v. Geiger, property owners tried to prevent a neighbor from crossing over their lakeside lot with an antiharassment order.  The neighbor began using the lakeside lot without the owners’ permission, by attaching a floating dock to the lot, storing personal items on it, and walking across the owners’ lot to the dock.  The neighbor claimed that he had a right to use the lot through an easement. Continue Reading

Justice Thomas Signals that the Supreme Court May Review Inclusionary Zoning

2000px-Scale_of_Justice.svgJust days after the Oregon Senate approved a bill that would allow inclusionary zoning—i.e. permitting local governments to condition the grant of incentives to developers on the inclusion of affordable housing in new developments—at least one United States Supreme Court Justice has sent a signal that the Court may wish to review such laws (as well as, potentially, other legislatively enacted land-use measures that could be characterized as governmental takings). Continue Reading