Are State and Local Regulations Making the Portland Housing Affordability Crisis Worse?

Is the Portland area’s regional housing crisis being made better or worse by state and local land use regulations? Gerald Mildner, Ph.D, an associate professor of real estate and finance at Portland State University, and the academic director of the University’s Center for Real Estate, would say, “worse.” According to Dr. Mildner in his paper “Portland Housing Market and 2018 UGB,” the region’s urban growth boundary (UGB) in conjunction with other regional and local initiatives is likely exacerbating the housing crisis, and measures meant to alleviate that crisis are either making it worse or having less efficient positive effects than alternative measures. For example, Metro did not expand the UGB in 2015 because it determined that there was enough capacity within the existing UGB to accommodate the region’s housing and employment needs for the next 20 years. The problem, however, is that most of the future housing capacity relied upon lies in areas that are in eastside Portland neighborhoods that are not close to Portland’s urban core, like the Gateway and 122nd Street areas, and the assumption was that the capacity need will be met by high-rise residential projects. The reality is that high-rise projects are expensive to build and require rents that those outlying areas cannot hope to support anytime soon. So the capacity is there, but the market is not. Further, according to Dr. Mildner, there could be serious economic consequences to the region if rents in Portland actually increase to the point that high-rise residential projects can be supported in those areas.  Continue Reading

Top Five Intellectual Property Issues in Real Estate

Though your business may be real property, intellectual property issues most likely do or will play a role in your business operations. Intellectual property (IP) includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Here we provide you with the top five areas to take advantage of potential IP rights or where IP issues may arise in real estate. Continue Reading

Supreme Court Clarifies Requirements for Lawsuit on a Lien Release Bond

Bonding around mechanics liens can be an efficient way to close out a project when disputes arise, but case law and statutes created some ticklish questions about who needed to be included in any subsequent lawsuit. Now, the Washington Supreme Court has given us some clarity. In Inland Empire Dry Wall Supply Co. v. Western Surety Company, the Supreme Court held that the subcontractor could sue the surety of the release bond alone for recovery of unpaid amounts.

In this case, the subcontractor (Inland Empire) supplied drywall materials to Eastern Washington Drywall and Paint that were used at an apartment complex in Richland. EWD&P was a subcontractor of Fowler General Construction, who was the general contractor on the project. EWD&P failed to pay for the materials, Inland Empire filed a preclaim notice and then timely filed its mechanics lien under RCW 60.04.091. Before any lawsuit to foreclose the lien was filed, the general contractor Fowler obtained and recorded a lien release bond from defendant Western Surety Company for the full amount owed. Inland Empire ultimately sued Western Surety alone for the amount remaining unpaid (not Fowler, and surprisingly, not EWD&P who contractually owed the money).

Western Surety defended by claiming that the general contractor Fowler (who was identified as the “principal” on the bond) was a necessary party as it was the “owner” under RCW 60.04.141. Further, as that statute requires service of the summons and complaint upon the “owner” within 90 days, and Fowler hadn’t been served at all, Western Surety argued that the lien claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court agreed with that argument and dismissed the case.  A divided Court of Appeals reversed, and the Supreme Court took review. The Supreme Court once again reiterated that the mechanics lien statute is to be construed liberally to protect persons who fall within its provisions, and indeed took it a step further by stating the mechanics lien statute’s language must always be construed in favor of the claimant in if there is any question about the statute’s meaning. Applying those principles of construction (and a large dollop of common sense), a unanimous Supreme Court held that once a lien release bond is filed, the unpaid lien claimant has the right to proceed against the surety directly without joining the party who provided the bond.

Oregon Construction Contractors Board Residential Contractor Updates

Our team felt that this information would be useful to those in the construction industry.

The Construction Contractors Board recently sent out a newsletter containing recent changes which affect residential contractors. Some areas of interest include continuing education updates, calendar of live CCB courses, how to appoint a temporary RMI, and residential building code updates.

To read the full newsletter please click here.

“Contractors Special Conditions” Exclusion Sets Traps for Policyholders and Defense Counsel

This post originally appeared on The Northwest Policyholder, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s insurance recovery blog. From The Ground Up editor George Kaai felt that this information would be useful to those in the construction industry.

An endorsement that has become common in general contractors’ insurance policies can function as a trap for both the policyholder and defense counsel. The “Contractors Special Conditions” endorsement requires that the policyholder must have written contracts with each subcontractor that it uses on a project, and that those agreements must meet certain requirements. If there is a loss involving those subcontractors, and if contract conditions were not met, the insurer may deny coverage. The problem, of course, is that if the policyholder does not read the policy before the loss, and didn’t get the right contracts in place, there may be no way to “cure” the problem. And defense counsel may be put in a bind as well when they are asked to report to the insurer.

To read the full article please click here.

Deadline Looms for Mandatory OregonSaves Retirement Program

This article was originally published as one of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s Employee Benefits Update, our occasional e-mail newsletter focusing on the latest developments in employee benefits. From The Ground Up editor George Kaai felt that this information would be useful to those in the development industry in Oregon. If you are interested in receiving periodic employment law updates, please notify us at

A new era in retirement saving is dawning on Oregon employees, and if your business employs 100 or more employees in Oregon, you must take action by November 15. If your company employs workers in Oregon and does not sponsor a retirement plan, you will soon be required to enroll employees in the new OregonSaves state-run retirement program. If your company already sponsors a retirement plan for its employees, you are exempt from participation in the OregonSaves program, but you will be required to claim exemption online and renew that exemption every three years.

To view the full article please click here.

Court of Appeals Holds That “Call Before You Dig” Creates Strict Liability

As we’ve reported before, Washington strengthened its “Call Before You Dig” laws about five years ago to create a much stricter regime, with significant penalties for property owners, utility providers, and contractors that fail to comply with its requirements. And now we’ve got one of the first published decisions under the new regime, which holds that the new Call Before You Dig law creates strict liability for violations.  Continue Reading

NWP: Insurance Coverage Can Help Businesses Impacted by Wildfires or Hurricanes

This post originally appeared on The Northwest Policyholder, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s insurance recovery blog.

Many Northwest businesses are being impacted by the wildfires close to home, and also by the hurricanes that have or will hit Texas, Florida and other Gulf states. Can commercial insurance help to mitigate losses from these natural disasters? In many cases, yes.

“All risk” property-insurance (fire) policies may provide coverage for property damage from wildfires, including damage to facilities, equipment, and sometimes stock and inventory. Wildfires and other natural disasters may also disrupt operations and force temporary closures. In that case, business income (also called “business interruption”) insurance, including civil authority coveragemay cover lost profits and related costs. And, if your company was not directly impacted, but was unable to procure parts or make shipments because of wildfire or hurricane, contingent business interruption coverage may apply.

Click here to read the full post.

Guest Feature: Portland Seeks Public Comment on Affordable Housing Bond Framework

Thanks to our friends at HFO Investment Real Estate for this important notice regarding new developments from the Portland Housing Bureau regarding the Affordable Housing Bond.

The Portland Housing Bureau released a report written by the Affordable Housing Bond Stakeholder Advisory Group, which lays out a plan for how the money should be spent. The affordable housing bond was passed last November, and the city has pledged to use the $258 million dollars it expects to be generated by the levy to build 1,300 units available to households making less than 60% AMI. The Draft Policy Framework includes targeted goals that identify communities the city wants to prioritize for potential new affordable units. The PHB is conducting mail and online surveys, and will be holding hearings on the policy between September 6th and 11th. The final vote is scheduled for October 11th. Read more.

HFO Investment Real Estate specializes in multifamily brokerage sales and advisory services for investors and apartment owners throughout the Pacific Northwest. Visit their website at

Panel Discussion: The Opioid Epidemic & The Building Industry

We would like to inform those of you in the Oregon/SWWA building industry about a special panel discussion being hosted by the Daily Journal of Commerce on Thursday, August 24, 2017. The presentation is titled “The Opioid Epidemic & The Building Industry,” and the panel will include Miller Nash Graham & Dunn partner P.K. Runkles-Pearson, Cal Beyer of Lakeside Industries, Dr. Rachel Solotaroff of Central City Concern, and Mark Altenhofen of Oregon Pain Advisors. The panel will discuss the opioid epidemic, how it’s affecting the building industry, and what business leaders can do to mitigate it. For more information, visit the DJC website.