Council revises SDCs that pay for transportation improvements

The Hood River City Council moved ahead Monday with approval of a plan amending its system development charges for transportation impacts.

The council entered the meeting looking at three options for how best to assess the charges, which are typically incurred through development.

At its Feb. 11 meeting the council had considered the option of assessing a system development charge for each change in use. However the council got bogged down in how would a change in use, or whether that use had a larger impact than the previous tenant of the building, be determined.

System development charges are typically assessed on new construction or uses to offset the cost of increased impact on city infrastructure.

City staff presented the council with two separate options to consider at its Feb. 25 meeting: only pursue system development charges for use changes when the city becomes aware of a change or require a review when a building either expands or has a use change.

The council quickly began to gravitate toward the second option.

“I don’t like creating the impression that we have the discretion to look the other way,” said Mayor Arthur Babitz.

City Manager Bob Francis acknowledged that the second option would likely be “complaint driven” and rely upon neighbors to make the city aware of use changes which may exceed the previous use.

Council member Mark Zanmiller added he was uncomfortable with a system which may lead to them discovering use changes while he “walked by on the way to lunch.”

Francis also said the option would require a significant devotion of time and resources by city staff as those uses would require a “compliance review.” The proposed language would have have made it a violation for an owner or tenant to change the use of the parcel or building without first getting a use determination from city staff.

The system that the city ultimately decided upon would require a plan review whenever a business changes use or expands, but would not necessarily mandate a new system development charge.

According to the language approved by the council, if the “proposed use results in a greater demand or impact on a city capitol improvement system … the applicant shall pay the difference between the SDC rate ascribed to the previous use and the calculated SDC attributable to the proposed use.”

“If you need some sort of permit it triggers the process,” Francis added after the meeting.

If the use is deemed to have a greater impact on the transportation system than the prior occupant, it would trigger an additional transportation system development charge. Otherwise no additional charge would be assessed.

The code change received its first reading by title only at the Feb. 25 meeting and will receive its second at the March 11 city council meeting.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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