City Council to discuss in-lieu parking rule, next library measure

10 Jul

The next chapter in efforts to generate long-term funding for the now-closed Hood River County Library branches in Hood River, Cascade Locks and Parkdale unfolds Monday before the Hood River City Council.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, July 12, in council chambers at 211 Second St.

County Administrator Dave Meriwether will report on a meeting at 1:30 p.m. that afternoon by the Hood River County Board of Commissioners, to review polling results and decide what sort of library funding structure — special district or service district — they will ask voters to support in November.

To fast-track the process of placing a measure on the November ballot, Meriwether the same day will visit both the Hood River and Cascade Locks city councils to ask their permission to include the cities in whatever sort of tax-supported district goes to the ballot. The county board meets at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday to take formal action on the ballot proposal.

Another casualty of the county’s belt-tightening was its Economic Development Office. Created in 2002, the office had been staffed until June 30 by Bill Fashing. Fashing has since taken a position as community development officer with the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments, serving both Wasco and Hood River counties.

Greg Colt, a commercial realtor in Hood River, will ask the council to consider partnering with other government entities in the Gorge to revive the economic development office for the county. Those partners might include the county, cities of Hood River and Cascade Locks, and the ports of Hood River and Cascade Locks.

The last headline item on the agenda involves the much-cussed “in lieu” parking ordinance. The city requires developers to provide one off-street parking space for each anticipated employee, plus parking for anticipated customers, on or near their property. The city, however, exempted commercial and industrial building owners downtown, in the Heights and at the Port.

Insteady, the city in its 2006 ordinance required developers to pay the city an “in lieu” fee so the city could develop adequate parking. The fee amount could float, depending on market conditions. Building owners were required to cover the cost of 1.2 parking stalls per 1,000 square feet of development, multiplied by the fee amount at the time a project was started.

The costs created a barrier to development downtown. Bob Carnahan, owner of the Waucoma Building at 2nd and Cascade, and Pasquale Barone, former owner of the Hood River Hotel and current owner of the Union Building on Industrial Street, have delayed conversion plans for their buildings because, as they have testified publicly, the “in lieu” fees would have added prohibitive additional costs to their projects.

As the council agenda notes, “The City Council decided there is a need to reduce the amount of the in-lieu parking fee as a means of encouraging development and redevelopment.”

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