Gov. Tina Kotek’s housing agenda has drawn the ire of environmentalists—again.
Earlier this month, WW broke the news that Kotek’s housing advisory panel had proposed scrapping state law to allow housing development on “marginal or degraded wetlands” (“Fill It In,” Aug. 9). Environmental advocates despised the idea, and their outcry is even louder now that Kotek’s Housing Production Advisory Council has placed trees in the path of the bulldozers.
The latest draft proposal from HPAC would allow developers to skirt city tree codes so long as the trees are less than 60 inches in diameter. On Aug. 21, leaders of more than 20 environmental groups—including Friends of Trees, Portland Audubon and Willamette Riverkeeper—asked Kotek to reject the plan, saying it would only intensify the heat islands that broil residents of low-income places like East Portland.
“This is a green light for developers to clear-cut lots without even paying for replacements the city could plant elsewhere,” the letter says. “The HPAC proposal seems designed with one goal in mind—to facilitate developers’ ability to build more, profitable, though not necessarily better or affordable, housing at all costs and at the expense of community health.”
The governor’s office says HPAC hasn’t yet brought her any formal recommendations, but she’s willing to take bold steps. “The council’s charge is to have frank conversations about the opportunities and challenges to making urgent progress on Oregon’s housing supply crisis—and land availability is a key issue.”