Through meetings with staff and testimony in front of City Council, the HBA was able to successfully advocate for a three year implementation of a rate increase doubling Forest Grove’s Park System Development Charge.
In November 2016, the City of Forest Grove updated its Parks Master Plan which included the Park Capital Improvements Program. This set the table for what an updated parks system development charge methodology would look like as this determines what projects will be eligible for SDC funds. In April, 2017 the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland received notice of the proposed increase of the parks SDC from $3,000 to $6,010. HBA staff reviewed the proposed methodology and met with key staff at the City of Forest Grove before City Council would make a decision. In these meetings HBA staff was able to successfully advocate for a delayed implementation date, pushing implementation out from September 1, 2017 to January 1, 2018.
On August 14, HBA staff and members submitted written and oral testimony to Forest Grove City Council illustrating that such a dramatic increase would have significant negative economic impacts to builders doing business in the area and to the overall affordability of homes in the region. The HBA requested a phase in of three or more years and to consider implementing a lower maximum defensible rate than proposed in the update. This is more in line with neighboring communities, which would be closer to $4,500 overall. Additionally included in testimony was the desire for commercial construction to contribute to the Park SDC fund.
After much discussion the City Council unanimously voted in favor of phasing in the SDC over three years, beginning with an increase of about $1,000 annually, beginning January 1, 2018. This will rise by approximately $1,000 annually until it reaches the total proposed increase amount of $6,010. After the final increase on January 1, 2020, the Council would then index the rate for inflation according to the Engineering News Record for Seattle. City Council also instructed staff to draft a plan to include commercial construction in future SDC payments in 2020, which would conceivably lower residential Park SDC fees moving forward.