Friday, February 22, 2013

Red tape spawns before our eyes...

The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals released its decision on a much maligned housing project on Division Street.

Of the three claims made by the Richmond Neighbors for Responsible Growth, LUBA rejected two and a half.  In particular LUBA rejected the contention that the city did not consider transportation impacts associated with the lack of parking. 

The only part of RNRG's brief supported by LUBA was the contention that mixed use developments must put the entrance to residential sections on the main street, the same as if they were a commercial use.  Is that really a win for the neighborhood? 

Is Division Street better off if part of the frontage is reserved as an entrance to apartments rather than retail?  Are side streets better off if they're effectively required to be useless blank walls?  If a building includes parking does this mean the parking entrance must be on the main street too?  The code doesn't say that, but it didn't say anything about apartment entrances either.  LUBA read the requirement on residential entrances out of thin air, in spite of the fact (which they acknowledge) that the requirement wouldn't exist if it was only a residential building and not mixed use.

The LUBA ruling resolves nothing about residential parking requirements.  It merely establishes that the State has an actionable interest in whether apartments in mixed use developments put their entrance on the main drag or a side street.  What purpose that interest serves is not obvious. 

If such a claim had gone before the city or any other body that gave a damn it would have been rejected out of hand.  Instead we get a ruling that only an apparatchik could love, and the promise that every project in the city will face an additional layer of red tape.  Thanks Richmond!

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