City leaders in Gold Beach are planning to add increasing the city’s housing availability to a long list of city goals.
City councilors discussed the topic during a work session Monday night, while they reviewed the language of the city’s long-term goals and tossed around ideas for achieving them.
Precise language and definitive action items still have to be drafted by city staff and sent back to the council for approval, but the consensus among councilors was that housing is important enough an issue in the city to add to the city’s list of high-level priorities.
“I think housing falls into several of these goals,” Councilor Summer Matteson said. “We’ve been doing a lot with housing in the city that maybe warrants its own category, or goal.”
The goal will join several other areas of city focus, including fiscal sustainability, quality of life, community safety, intergovernmental relations and economic growth.
While the city’s goals are fairly general, they’re the guiding force behind each of the city’s future actions.
Each goal gets a list of action items, deliverables and measurements attached to it over time, and Mayor Tamie Kaufman said the goals are what the council should return to as it makes decisions.
“I think one of the ways that we stay out of doing things that we are like, ‘why are we doing this now?’ is to go back when somebody brings something up and say, ‘OK, is it in our goals? Is it one of the things we identified that we wanted to do, and did we break it out into an action item,” Kaufman told councilors Monday.
Within the newly proposed housing goal, councilors shared a number of ideas about how the city could increase the availability of affordable housing within the city.
A key item will be to update the city’s zoning ordinance to allow for more housing in the city, an item Kaufman said is already in process, and to establish zoning and planning rules which encourage developers to use the upper floors of buildings as housing.
“No more buildings where it’s not encouraged to put something upstairs,” Kaufman suggested.
Councilor Becky Campbell suggested the city could partner with employers to incorporate a housing component to their future plans.
“I like that idea, too, councilor because they could get more qualified candidates for jobs,” said Councilor Anthony Pagano.
Matteson said the number of large employers in the city, including the county, school district and hospital often puts a strain on the city’s housing market, turning away qualified candidates for those jobs.
A conversation between the city, developers and those local agencies could help resolve that strain, Matteson said.
“If we were able to identify a property large enough to build maybe a fourplex or an eightplex, or even some transitional apartments to give them a place to land until they find permanent housing, I really think that would help us retain and lower the turnover,” Matteson said. “And I think we could all do it if we all partner together.”
Councilors tentatively added the goal of encouraging groups with solutions for the city’s unhoused population, but didn’t finalize what that encouragement — financial or otherwise — might exactly look like.
Alongside the plan to add housing availability as a city goal, councilors tinkered with the language of the city’s other strategic goals.
Among them, “influence economic growth” rose to the top as a key point of discussion.
“I think that’s our biggest one, yeah. Which I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job on that, too,” Pagano said.
Councilors agreed the city should add language to the goal to encourage development within the city’s enterprise zones and urban renewal area. They also agreed on the idea of encouraging cottage and home industries, like making handmade items and other businesses easily run in the home.
“There’s so many people who can work from home now, and you don’t even know it,” Kaufman said.
Community spaces — like a business park or commercial kitchen — could enhance those industries in the city, too, councilors agreed.
Councilors agreed on a slew of other ideas to add to the city’s goals, like updating a feasibility study on extending sewer service on Jerry’s Flat Road and Hunter Creek Road and improving relationships with other local agencies and governments.
Other planned adjustments will likely include clarifications to some of the document’s more ambiguous lines and a distinction between which goals have yet to be met, and which just need to be sustained.
Councilors couldn’t make any final decisions during Monday’s work session, but will take up the topic again at their April 5 meeting, after city staff tinker with the precise language of the goals and the action items underneath them.